chapter  5
16 Pages

East-Central Europe: parties in crisis and the external and internal Europeanisation of the party systems


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The party systems in East-Central Europe (ECE) have emerged under a series of dual pressures from inside and outside. The general framework of the external adaptation pressure has been the globalisation cum Europeanisation challenge, since globalisation has mostly impacted upon the ECE countries through the Europeanisation process. This challenge, however, has been so strong, so overwhelming that this external adaptation pressure has dominated the domestic processes. In the early 1990s the global financial institutions, notably the World Bank and International Monetary Fund appeared as institutional tutors in ECE. But their direct influence soon vanished and the main external pressures for democratic transition and consolidation since then have been exerted upon the ECE states by the EU’s accession ‘conditionalities’ (Hughes, Sasse and Gordon, 2004; Pridham, 2005). The EU pressure began with the Association Treaty process and even after completion of entry by the new member states it still impacts heavily on their domestic transformations. A previous distinction made by the author to assess these processes has been between anticipative and adaptive Europeanisation, as stages before and after the accession negotiations (1998-2002); but it is the next stage of postaccession Europeanisation that merits close attention now. Given the very asymmetrical dependency relationship in this particular Europeanisation process, it is indeed the case that the strikingly successful examples of democratisation in ECE probably have very limited application elsewhere. So this chapter explores how Europeanisation – as both promotion of democracy and requirement of multilevel governance – has influenced in this specific regional framework the process of party-building in ECE. It analyses the three stages – anticipative, adaptive and post-accession – sequence.1