Tutors and Pupils: International Organizations, Central European Elites, and Western Models



In the past decade, political elites in Central and Eastern Europe have often sought to imitate Western organizational and institutional models, while organizations like the EU and NATO have often acted as “institutional tutors” in the region. Using evidence from Hungary and the Czech Republic, this paper demonstrates why imitating Western structures has been both administratively expedient and useful in building political coalitions. It also stresses that the short-term benefits of doing so are followed by longer-term costs. The paper answers four questions: How have certain models been held up to CEE elites? Why might some such models be targets for elites to imitate? How does such imitation occur? And what results from imitation? Contrary to expectations that institutional modeling would be merely technocratic and used only yearly in the transformation, the paper's threefold heuristic of templates, thresholds, and adjustments shows that the process is both politically contentious and sustained.