Representation in New Democracies: Party Stances on European Integration in Post-Communist Eastern Europe


Robert Rohrschneider is professor of political science, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Stephen Whitefield is professor of politics, Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom OX1 3UQ.


The preponderance of scholarly literature has suggested that East European party systems remain fairly unstructured. As a consequence, the process of party representation does not appear to work adequately yet in these new democracies. In this paper, we systematically examine how well the party representation process works by analyzing party stances towards European economic and political integration. This is an important topic in its own right. But it also provides an opportunity to examine how well parties meet three requirements of the process of party representation in an issue area that is salient in all countries in the region: to supply policy alternatives, to provide coherent policy packages, and to offer programs that are congruent with voter preferences. We draw on a new data set from an expert survey of party stances in 10 post-communist accession states. Our results indicate that East European parties do a remarkably good job in meeting three minimal criteria. In theoretical terms, our study suggests that the party representation model can work even when the context is less favorable than in mature democracies.