Political institutions and government performance : Central and Eastern Europe in a comparative perspective
Sammanfattning: Central and Eastern Europe was strongly affected by the most recent wave of democratisation. Here, successful transition to democracy and market economy was sometimes perceived as a matter of choosing the ‘right’ institutional framework, presumably institutions employed in mature democracies. This study draws on the fundamental question within the field of comparative institutionalism, whether or not institutional arrangements can be expected to perform in the same way, regardless of the political and social context where they are being applied. Sixteen countries in Central and Eastern Europe – Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine – are evaluated between 1991 and 2005. By using a two-dimensional framework, based on the distinction between the executives-parties and the federal-unitary dimensions, we evaluate ten institutional arrangements that serve as our independent variables with respect to their respective positions on a scale running from majoritarian to consensual.Furthermore, the study sets out to examine the connection between different institutional settings and government performance. A battery of indicators tapping macroeconomic management, quality of democracy and welfare is used for the purpose of evaluating the dependent variable; government performance. In order to assess whether or not institutional arrangements work in the same way in a recently democratised environment as they do in mature democracies, we subject the sixteen Central and East European countries to comparison with Western democracies at nearly all stages of the analysis.The study draws on a variety of sources: the literature at hand, expert surveys carried out among scholars and government officials within the field, and macro-level data covering for example election results, macroeconomic performance and level of democratisation.Finally, the findings of the present study point to a discrepancy between East and West. The theoretical notion of a two-dimensional pattern does not seem to be applicable beyond mature democracies. Instead three new combinations of institutional clusters emerge in post-communist Europe. The predominance of unitary governments and the instability of the party systems in the region are identified as the most likely underlying causes. Furthermore, the favourable effect on government performance by consensus democracy in Western countries is to a large extent absent in Central and Eastern Europe, or at least not as clear there as in the West.
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