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Multi-level Party Systems in Central and Eastern Europe inside and outside the EU

Valentyna Romanova
National Institute for Strategic Studies
Valentyna Romanova
National Institute for Strategic Studies
Arjan H. Schakel
Universitetet i Bergen
Open Panel

Abstract

The European Union is widely recognised as a democratising power for Central and Eastern European states (Rupnik, 2002). However, there is little agreement on whether the EU influences national party systems of the member-states (Mair, 2000; Marks et al. 2004; Timus, 2008). Nowadays party systems in CEE are relatively stabilized (Zubek, 2010), although the dynamics of party system changes has been diverse and the degree of stability is lower than in Western Europe (Rose, Munro 2003; Birch, 2003). In addition, academics stress strong stabilizing effects of cross-cutting contrary to re-enforcing cleavages in regionally diverse societies during democratisation (Sasse, 2001 and 2010). This proposal suggests disentangling the separate effects of (a) the EU, (b) cross-cutting cleavages and (c) democratization rates on the stability of multi-level party systems. To this effect we employ a two-stage research design. First, we conduct a systematic comparison between eight countries, which vary systematically across the mentioned variables (a, b, c). To assess the stability of multi-level party systems we look at turnout, volatility and congruence between national and regional elections. The results guide our in depth case analysis of Ukraine and Poland to measure the EU’s independent effect on the stability of multi-level party systems. This study will allow concluding: (1) either the EU has an independent, direct effect on the stability of multi-level party systems, or (2) it has a positive indirect effect of promoting democratization.