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Are they There? What drives Interest Groups Relations with Political Parties in Central and Eastern Europe?

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Civil Society
Democratisation
Interest Groups
Political Parties
Paweł Kaminski
Polish Academy of Sciences
Paweł Kaminski
Polish Academy of Sciences

Abstract

The paper introduces new data on interactions between political parties and interest groups in post-Communist countries from Central and Eastern Europe: Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia. The data comes from Comparative Interest Group Survey (http://cigsurvey.eu/). While political parties have kept scholarly attention, research on interest groups has also gained popularity. However, with few notable examples (Allern, 2010; Allern and Bale, 2012; Allern and Bale, 2017, Otjes and Rasmussen, 2017), we lack a systematic analysis on interactions between these two actors. The gap is even more puzzling as interest groups and political parties established links of interaction already in the nineteenth century (Otjes and Rasmussen, 2017). As Allern argues (2010:5), "party - interest group relations have simply been taken for granted", or being thought of as living in parallel universes, with a little overlap between each other (Beyers et al., 2008). From this point, it is interesting how these processes have endured in the post-Communist CEE, as almost everything we know on interactions between political parties and interest groups comes from the research on West European countries and the United States (exceptional example being here is research conducted in Slovenia, see for example: Fink-Hafner and Krasovec, 2005). To fill this gap, we analyze the structural factors behind the interactions between those two actors in Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia. We argue that radical and different - than in Western post-industrial democracies - departure points for civil society and political system are the most salient factors behind the parties-groups relations.