Political Representation, Actors and Institutions
Doh C. Shin and Jason Wells: Testing the Churchill Notion of Democracy as a Lesser Evil in Post-Communist Europe
In 1947, Winston Churchill offered a somewhat ironic notion of democracy: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” This present research effort tests his notion of democracy as a lesser evil using data drawn from the New Democracies Barometer IV surveys which were conducted in10 post-Communist countries. An analysis of these surveys confirms that ordinary citizens of these countries perceive their democratic regime as a lesser evil, and as such these negative perceptions strongly motivate them to embrace democracy as a preferred form of government. In view of these findings, the present study concludes that the Churchill notion of a lesser evil constitutes a most welcome and long overdue contribution to the literature on the current wave of global democratization that rests primarily on a positive notion of democracy.
Wolodzimer Wesolowski: Change and Continuity: Four Polish Parliaments 1989-2001
The paper is based on the empirical data extracted from short biographies of deputies to Polish parliament. (460 persons in each of four parliaments in the period 1989-2000). Paper presents a thorough socio-demographic analysis of age, gender, place of residence, level of education, kind of education, professional composition, political affiliation, civic association membership of Polish parliamentarians. Data reveal that in each consecutive parliament more then 50 % of representatives never served in legislature. Novices (newcomers) did not had a great political experience outside parliament either. Volatility of party affiliation is significant, in particular among center-to the right parties. As Committees’ chairmen’s serve both newcomers and incumbents. On the whole there are several indications that new Polish democratic parliaments has got semi-professionalised. However, the achieved level of professionalisation is not satisfactory yet for the production of good legislation. The sociological composition of the parliament is relatively stable. The age cohorts, levels of education, kind of education gender composition looks similar in four parliaments. In consequence one can talk about stable sociological model of the Polish parliament, and rather unstable political model of that parliament.
János Simon: Political Conservatism of the Hungarian MP’s in the 90s
In this study I examine the conservative idealism of the Hungarian political elite. First I briefly talk about the present day problems of Hungarian conservatism, then I analyse the spatial relationships of the ideologies. I will also introduce a new measuring method with which it is easier to differentiate between the self-proclaimed conservatives, liberals, socialists and technocrats. This way we can identify their place in the web of ideologies, and can also measure their strength in relation to the liberal and socialist views. Next we categorise and then analyse the literal meaning of the word “conservatism”. Finally I treat the self-proclaimed conservative MPs’ value systems and value links, comparing them with the liberals and the socialists, and with the classic English conservatism The empirical part of our work is based on data analysis of a survey research. We interviewed 193 members of the second freely elected Hungarian Parliament in 1996 on 50 % representative sample, then we repeated the same research in 1998 with 194 members of the third Parliament.
Gabriella Ilonszki: Parliament and government in Hungary: a changing relationship
By way of introducing the three parliaments in Hungary since after systemic change the paper argues that the changing relationship between parliament and government points toward more complexity, which is a side-effect of the consolidation process and functional clarification. Nevertheless, some destabilizing factors are also identified. With respect to the complex and changing relationship three modes of interactions are identified: in the non-party mode the government interacts with parliament as if they were two distinct bodies, in the inter-party mode ministers and MPs from one faction interact with ministers and MPs of other faction mainly on party lines, and in the cross-party mode government ministers and MPs interact on the basis of non-party divisions. The analysis found that in each parliament a complexity of interactions prevailed. The non-party tendencies were the strongest in the First Parliament, inter-party tendencies stabilized in the Second Parliament with important signs of cross-party cooperation while in the Third Parliament it has become more difficult to clarify the major trend due to some controversial tendencies. In spite of this, the development of a more professional group of politicians serves as a safeguard to maintain parliamentary standards and consolidate institutions as well as procedures because a new parliamentary political class has been in the process of making in the past ten years
Darina Malová and Erik Láštic: The Gradual Amending of the Slovak Constitution: Combating the Ambiguous Rules in 1992-2001
The main argument of this article is that the political actors during 1994-1998 effectively used the ambiguous rules of the Slovak Constitution to channel their political conflicts into struggles over the rules of game. These events have impeded the institutionalisation of the formal rules and undermined the constitutional government. The author focuses on the factors that have contributed to the dominance of informal rules and forced actors to turn to unconstitutional alternatives. The dominance of informal rules over developed institutions was also promoted by political context, in which parties spontaneously appeared and split, creating a political system of unsettled identities, preferences, and interests. Therefore it is possible to argue that institutional changes in 1994-1998 were mostly the immediate outcomes of the momentary power configurations rather than impartially drafted rules. The HZDS-led ruling coalition was reluctant to accept formal rules, because they hindered its interest to expand its power. Unconstitutional legislation and violations of the supreme rules of the political game became an inherent feature of Slovak politics in that period. The new coalition government, despite of internal political and personal clashes was able to introduce the significant amendment to the Constitution that has remedied many ambiguous provisions and improved the country’s institutional arrangement. The 2001 Amendment represents a crucial and comprehensive step of the ruling coalition towards democratic consolidation. It contributes to the decentralisation of the powers of the central government, strengthens the division of powers, and increases the authority of the state audit office and the independence of the judiciary.
Petra Rakušanová: The Role and Position of Committees of the House of Deputies of the Czech Republic in the Period of Transformation
The goal of this analysis is to investigate the gradual institutionalization of the committees of the House of Deputies of the Czech Parliament between 1993 and 1999. The examination of the committees’ activities is an important part of the exploration of the functioning of the Parliament as a locus of articulation, aggregation and representation of interests. In the committees, gradual expert and political professionalization of the deputies occurs – deputies acquire a new type of supra-sector specialization, a general qualification which they can take advantage of even after the termination of the deputy’s mandate or political career. Committees become one of the centers of political professionalization of the new political elite or at least the parliamentary portion thereof. Another reason for studying parliamentary committees pertains to the crucial differences in the perception of individual committees, especially their prestige, by the deputies themselves. As our surveys show, during the transformation period there have been significant changes in the perception and evaluation of individual committees by the deputies. On a general level it can be stated that the parties of governmental coalition always have the majority in key committees. The House of Deputies usually accepts amendments adopted in the Committee using this procedure. The institute of two-level debate is anchored especially in the political culture. The increasing number of bills discussed in this manner is proof of a positive development of the political culture toward the standards customary in Western Europe.
Martin Vysin: The Position and Function of the Czech Senate
In Czech Republic work on the Constitution was very fast and people who had had some experience with such work were, to a certain extent, excluded from the debate. We are still battling some of the consequences of this hasty work. The concept of the Senate, or to be more precise the bicameral parliament, was based mostly on ideology. The upper chamber was supposed to be a chamber of reflection; its main task was to perfect the legislative process. Certain upper chambers represent the individual federative sections of a country, others consist of representatives of various social classes etc. It is important, however, that the second chamber has some substantiation; it has to be different from the first one, it has to be specific somehow. A quality function of a bicameral parliament is based on the mutual balance of three elements: specificity, representativeness and means of activity. A change in one of these components will always be reflected in a change in the other components, and therefore it is necessary to set these parameters finely and carefully at the beginning. The different type of elections have caused initially unexpected problems. The greater inter-relatedness of senators with their constituencies forces them to a greater orientation towards regional issues which leads to the detriment of the legislative work in the Parliament. There are three options of further development of the Senate: the Senate may remain as it is; it may become a guarantor of regional issues; and it may become a chamber oriented towards long-term and socially vital issues.
Iván Völgyes: Political Culture and Political Socialization in Hungary after the System Change
The article summarizes the factors of socialization which have a role in forming the political culture in Hungary before and after the system change. From the beginning of the 90s the secondary institutions of socialization (parties, schools) went through great changes. Very soon new ways of socialization and the network of semi-informal relations were formed: special networks, clubs, foundations, economic (Amway, Tupperware) and social (Rotary, Lions) networks. The increasing market competition lessened the socialization strength of the friendship based groupings, however the socialization force of the family remained significant, but religion affected only certain social groups. According to the author recent experiences of the postcommunist citizens play a significant role in the formation of today’s Hungarian society’s new type of political culture. He differentiates between three groups: 1-the generation of the young laborers (20-30 years old), 2- the generation whose socialization went along the already eroded values of socialism of the 80s, 3- the elders who are able to accept the new conditions of market and economy. These three groups form the basis of the future Hungarian society’s main socialization factor.
András Bozóki: Globalists vs Localists: A Historic Debate, and the Position of the Left in Hungary
Current worldwide debates on globalization have preceded by long lasting discussions in semi-peripheral countries on the meaning of core, periphery, ”catching up” development, modernization, ”westernization” and the like. In fact, these issues were continuously discussed, and, in Hungary, the origins of these debates can be traced back many centuries. The paper presents the major positions in this debate, by mentioning some emblematic figures among globalists and localists as well, in order to formulate a matrix for the major questions to be answered. In the second p’art of the essay, special attention is paid to the transformation of the political Left and its approach on this issue, from communism to modernizationism.
Imre Lévai: Coexistence of Civilisations and Patterns of Accumulation: the European Sub-Centre and Semi-Periphery
The history of globalization is the history of the hitherto evolved commercial, industrial and financial stages of world capitalism. Regionalization is but asymmetrical globalization, producing time – space continuum of centre-sub-centre-periphery-periphery relationships. Understood in this context, Samuel Huntington’s emerging alignments of eights major civilizations (1996) or Johan Galtung’s seven regional-cultural groupings dominated by hegemons (1992) offer a theoretical image of the mega-structure of world accumulation of capital. The criteria of distinction between Anglo-Saxon and Rhineland capitalisms by Michel Albert (1991) allow for differentiating between the peculiar features of regional capitalisms or “cultures of accumulation” in the world system. The Rhenish pattern of accumulation in continental Europe – gradually approaching the Anglo-Saxon one – appears as a regional sub-centre of global capitalism. An appendix-like East European pattern, carrying semi-peripheric social and economic features may also be visualized. The future place and part of Eastern Europe in the world capitalist system depends largely on its integration and adaptation to the changing Rhineland capitalism, that is, on the degree and speed of eastward enlargement of the European Union. A Central European identity can be reinforced only by moving the economic and cultural borders of the Union Eastwards.