Postcommunist politics in a magnetic field: How transition and EU accession structure party competition on European integration

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Series Details Vol.7, No.2, July 2009 p179-212
Publication Date July 2009
ISSN 1472-4790
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Abstract: How do political parties in Central and Eastern Europe position themselves on European integration? We show that the strongest predictor of a party's stance is ideology. The communist legacy and the European Union (EU) accession process – what we call the demarcation and integration magnets – created a bipolar magnetic field, in which political parties are aligned on a single axis from one pole bundling left-wing economics and cultural traditionalism to another pole combining market liberalism and cultural openness. Over time, the EU accession process compressed this axis by inducing parties to shift away from authoritarian-nationalist and hard left economic positions. Our analysis reveals how EU leverage has critically influenced the character of political competition in postcommunist states.

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