Democratic Consolidation in East-Central Europe by Fritz Plasser

By Fritz Plasser

This booklet is an outline of the most theories on democratic transformation and consolidation. nations lined are the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia, with references to advancements in Russia and East Germany.

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On the other hand, tries to avoid the issue of legitimacy altogether: What matters for the stability of any regime is not the legitimacy of this particular system of domination but the presence or absence of preferable alternatives. (... ) A regime does not collapse unless and until some alternative is organized in such a way as to present a real choice for isolated individuals. From our point of view, however, the absence of alternatives to democracy is not a sufficient guarantee of democratic stability or consolidation because it ignores the dynamics of democratic compe- 26 Democratic Consolidation in East-Central Europe tition.

Conflicts may also arise because certain institutions no longer correspond to the transformed political culture. llow surveys in which the methodological requirements of a free-speech situation are respected. 35 Easton's distinction (1975; 1979) between objects and types of support which can be combined to form various dimensions of support, has been fundamental to many theories of legitimacy. Although there is still room for improvement in Easton's concept (d. Westle, 1989), his basic assumptions are valid.

But this now seems inappropriate given the degree of constant tension among the elites. This was evident in Hungary, where the conservative government and the opposition were at odds before the elections of 1994 (Agh, 1996c); or in Poland, where the presidential elections of 1995 were a high point of renewed extreme polarization between left and right (Osiatynski, 1995). In Slovakia, Prime Minister Meciar and President Kovac were engaged in personal conflict (Zifcak, 1995), and even in the Czech Republic, the (comparatively moderate) rivalry between Chancellor Klaus and Parliamentary President Zeman is ample evidence that elite settlement may have been a misconception.

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