Lewis, Paul G.
Party systems in Post-communist Central Europe: patterns of stability and consolidation.
When eight former communist countries joined the European Union in 2004 it was accepted that they all had reasonably well established democratic systems. The extent to which this also meant that they had a range of political parties that cohered into anything like a stable party system was less clear, however. Different views have been expressed on this question, and it may also be queried how well current views of what the concept of party system implies fit with Central European (CE) developments. Investigation into the nature of the party systems that have developed after four free elections is first conducted in terms of their shape and size. From this perspective only Hungary and the Czech Republic have developed anything like a two-party system. The question of stable party representation in CE legislatures is then raised, and in this context Slovenia and Estonia show signs of party system development on a more plural basis. Stronger evidence of institutionalization is derived from calculation of an Index of Stable Party Representation, which confirms the higher level of development in the countries identified above. There are some signs, as yet inconclusive, that weak party systems are also associated with more negative democratization outcomes.
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