Lewis, Paul G.
The 'Third Wave' of democracy in Eastern Europe: comparative perspectives on party roles and political development.
Party Politics, 7(5),
Political parties were not generally major actors in the early stages of democratization in eastern Europe, and their role has been a highly central but limited one in the politics of the region overall. How different has east European democratization been from earlier cases in this respect and how far has the contribution made by parties to the process changed? Their role is first examined in the framework of the 'three waves of democracy' that developed in different historical and international contexts. Contemporary east European democratization is indeed closer to the patterns of the 'second wave' than to the 'first wave' democratizations of western Europe, to which the classic models of party development are closely related. Recent developments in eastern Europe and the role played by parties are then analysed in terms of the major political challenges identifed by proponents of the political development school, whose work concerned large areas covered by the 'second wave'. In comparison with earlier phases, the role of parties in east European democratization is relatively limited and dependent on the prior management of major conflict tendencies. Rather than participation and integration, parties are more critically concerned with the establishment of legitimacy in the more rapidly consolidating democracies.
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