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Who gets in? Ideology and government membership in Central and Eastern Europe
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 11:22 authored by Lee Savage
Studies of government participation in established democracies demonstrate that ideological factors significantly influence whether or not a party gets into government. Thus far, research on government participation in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) indicates that ideological considerations have been insignificant. This is unexpected given what we know from the literature on parties and party systems in the region. Party systems have become more stable and parties themselves rapidly developed identifiable policy platforms. I arguethat one of the reasons for this disparity between the government participation literature in new and established democracies is the failure to understand the ideological space across the CEE region. Although party competition can be conceptualized as a one-dimensional space in each country, the policies that underpin notions of ‘left’ and ‘right’ vary. Imposing a definition of the ideological space that was developed for West European countries ignores the ideological context of CEE. This article finds that when the left–right space is defined in a way that is meaningful to CEE countries, ideological factors are highly significant indicators of government membership across the region. Specifically, ideological proximity to the formateur and proximity to the median significantly increase a party’s probability of participating in government.
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