Changes in the party politics of the new EU member states in Central Europe: patterns of Europeanization and democratization

Lewis, Paul G. (2008). Changes in the party politics of the new EU member states in Central Europe: patterns of Europeanization and democratization. Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, 10(2) pp. 151–165.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14613190802145911

Abstract

The article falls into three parts: an introduction that points to some general links between Europeanization, democratization and party status in the new accession countries, a more extensive discussion of developments in particular areas of party development since the enlargement of 2004, and some tentative conclusions (or suggestions) about continuing processes of democratization within the context of the European Union. In terms of party politics in relation to European impacts on democratization we conclude that in CE the logic of national party competition has overridden other logics, including that of the EU. Integration may have increased the distance between elites and citizens in some cases and depoliticized certain issues (where the acquis left little room for autonomous politics) but, in contrast to claims made of Western Europe, it is not clear that there has been a ‘hollowing out’ of party competition. The features of more successful democratization cluster in the Central and East European countries closer to the EU core. The non-democracies and bare electoral democracies of the region all lie beyond the ambit of the EU. All the liberal democracies are now EU members, and those with some defects in this regard are either the most recent (Bulgaria and Romania) or prospective (Croatia) members. But there is still a paradox in the accession process as it privileges the core national executive and puts strain on its relations with other components of the political system – possibly helping to undermine democratic stability.

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