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World Politics

Vol. 64, No. 4

October 2012

Party Systems and Government Stability in Central and Eastern Europe

By Florian Grotz and Till Weber

After two decades of parliamentary democracy, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have quite different records of government stability. At the same time there continues to be turbulent fluctuation within the individual countries. To explain this variation, the authors draw on characteristics of parties and party systems for 138 governments in 12 CEE countries. The analysis is structured by two distinct logics that underlie the effect of party-related attributes on government survival: the logic of internal friction within the government and the logic of external pressure from the opposition. The authors argue that in the “difficult” contexts of postcommunist party systems, these two logics do not operate independently of each other. Instead, they suggest that standard theory needs to be revised to account for the interactions of government and opposition characteristics. Their model of these interactions not only includes standard numeric and ideological variables but also integrates specificities of the postcommunist context: the regime divide and the low degree of party-system consolidation. Quantitative and qualitative findings demonstrate that government stability in CEE is interactively determined by whole constellations of party attributes.

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