Political Development in Eastern Europe

By Gabriel Almond; Jan F. Triska et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
POLITICAL PARTICIPATION, COMPETITION, AND DISSENT IN YUGOSLAVIA: A REPORT OF RESEARCH ON ELECTORAL BEHAVIOR

Lenard J. Cohen

Can the political leaders of one-party states cope with the pluralizing consequences of their own modernization programs? In recent years that question has been the source of considerable discussion among social scientists. A central issue in the discussion has centered upon the capacity of various oneparty states to satisfy pressures for the political participation of the new groups and interests that result from the rapid economic and social transformation of society. While the existence of such pressures is widely acknoledged, views differ regarding the probable impact of modernization on one-party states. Some authors anticipate movement toward a more open and pluralistic political system, if not a fully "democratic" one. Others foresee the continuation or strengthening of barriers to political participation in order to preserve the dominant position of the single party. However, most observers agree that any policy adopted by the leaders of one-party states in the face of demands for expanded and more significant group involvement in politics is likely to be fraught with difficulties. A sustained effort to disregard or contain the political activity of various groups may promote serious antiregime dissent and subversion, as well as deprive the governing elite of badly needed resources for economic development (expertise, information, popular support).

Alternatively, measures to broaden the opportunities for the expression of different group preferences and ideas can have a dangerous multiplier effect that, if unchecked, may seriously undermine and eventually eliminate the control of the single-party elite. "Repression or explosion," Robert Dahl has observed, is the dilemma of all "mixed regimes," that is, political systems "with broad citizenship but limits on public contestation, particularly on the right to form opposition parties."1

Yugoslavia during the past two and one-half decades provides a good example of a mixed regime. Beginning in the early 1950s, as part of the general

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