Sticking Together: Explaining Comparative Centre-Right Party Success in Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe

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In this article, we attempt to explain varying patterns of centre-right success between 1990 and 2006 in three post-communist states - Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. Success is understood as the ability to construct broad and durable parties. Both macro-institutional explanations, focusing on executive structures and electoral systems, and historical-structural explanations, stressing communist regime legacies, have limited power to explain the observed variance. The introduction of a more sophisticated framework of path dependence, stressing the role of choices and political crafting at critical junctures, adds some insight, but the lack of strong 'lock-in' mechanisms required by such approaches makes such a model unconvincing when applied to Central and Eastern European centre-right party development. Other explanations that stress the importance of elite characteristics and capacity are needed to supplement the shortcomings of these approaches, in particular: (a) the presence of cohesive elites able to act as the nucleus of new centre-right formations; and (b) the ability of such elites to craft broad integrative ideological narratives that can transcend diverse ideological positions and unite broad swathes of centre-right activists and voters.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-434
Number of pages28
JournalParty Politics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2008


  • Hungary, Czech Republic, parties, Poland, centre-right