Abstract

Political Representation, Actors and Institutions

Samuel Barnes: Left and Right in Old and New Democracies
The conclusions from this body of research can be stated briefly–and tentatively–as follows: Citizens in all the European countries considered here have little difficulty recognizing and utilizing the concepts of left and right in a useful manner even without extensive experience with democratic politics.  It is likely, however, that long periods of relatively stable parties and party systems as well as extensive experience with elections are required for the political system to acquire a self-regulating equilibrium of left-right space within particular countries. Panel data from the first years of Spanish democracy show that Spaniards were quick to pick a self-location on the scale and that their self placement eighteen months later demonstrated considerable consistency in their choices.  A cross-national survey project carried out in 1990-1992 in a number of former communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe provides evidence that corresponds closely with the Spanish experience.  These countries experienced the disruption of the Second World War and its aftermath, including the installation of communist governments in those that did not already possess them.  The length of time under occupation or authoritarian rule was in each close to the Spanish experience and in several it was longer. The left and right in advanced industrial democracies is a highly structured and remarkably consistent–consistent in its stability but also in its pattern of change—phenomenon that makes possible parsimonious and useful generalizations about constancy and change in mass publics.

José Antonio Rodríguez Martín: The Lithuanian economy before the integration with the Community Countries
In June of 1993, in the European Council of Copenhagen, he/she took the decision that the adhesion to the European Union would have place, in each case, as soon as the country candidate in question could assume the obligations that it imposes the ownership to the European Union. These approaches, from an economic optics, summary in: The existence of a market economy in correct operation; the capacity to make in front of the competitive pressures and the forces of the market in the Union. In this work it is analyzed the relationships at the present time between Lithuania and the European Union, especially the real convergence of the country regarding the community stocking, stops next to study the recent evolution of the Lithuanian economy, before finishing with the most important conclusions.

Oddbjørn Knutsen: The left-right dimension in West-European politics: Stable, in transition or increasingly irrelevant?
In this article I review my research from a project about the left-right location of the mass publics and expert left-right judgement of political parties. The main research questions are: Have the meanings of „left„ and „right„ now changed, is it stable or have left-right semantics become less salient among the mass publics, as traditional industrial society is gradually replaced by advanced industrial society, and as the industrial conflict structure loses impact? Have voters for the political parties changes their location on the left-right dimension, and have the parties themselves changed their location on the scale? The research on the relationship between value orientations and left-right self-placement supports the notion that the left-right semantics have an impressive absorptive power. It is an overarching spatial dimension capable of incorporating many types of conflict lines, and with different meanings to different people. A main finding from the comparative longitudinal analysis of left-right self-placement of the mass publics in eight West European countries are that the mass publics become increasingly leftist over time. The collapse of the Communist systems in Eastern Europe, and the idea that radical economic leftist positions concerning nationalisation and economic planning have become less popular, have not caused a rightist trend in left-right self-placement. There is also a pronounced tendency for the mass publics increasingly to place themselves in the centre of the left-right scale: polarisation in left-right identity declines substantially, in the sense that the spread in left-right identities declines.

Rikard Bengtsson: Securing Europe? The Swedish Presidency and EU-enlargement
This article analyses the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers in the enlargement area. Furthering the enlargement process was on the top of the Swedish agenda, and much effort was put into this prioritised area. The article suggests that in terms of both negotiation progress and political commitment to the process can Sweden be judged as successful, not least in its ambition to frame the issue of enlargement in security-political terms. At the same time, the Swedish effort can serve to stimulate further discussions about the presidency as a political institution, about the room for presidential influence in such a politically high-profile area as enlargement, and about the relationship between the presidency and the Commission.

Nick Sitter: When is a Party System? A system’s perspective on the development of competitive party systems in East Central Europe
Starting from Giovanni Sartori and Peter Mair’s definition of a party system in terms of interactions that result for inter-party competition, the present article addresses the development of party systems in East Central Europe since the collapse of communism. The central question is, at what point is anarchic competition between individual parties replaced by systematic competition between parties as components of a system? Given the fluidity of the post-communist parties ? in terms of survival of the actual parties as well as organisation, strategy and ideology ? it is questionable whether we may speak of a stable party system in the absence of stable parties. The  article argues that, the fluidity of some party organisation notwithstanding, the consolidation of patterned interaction between government and opposition stabilised the Hungarian, Polish, Czech and Slovak party systems during the late 1990s, and that this stabilisation was driven primarily by party strategy.

Doris Vogl: The Idea of Civil Society – The Cultural Limits of a Western Concept. The Cases of the Republic of Georgia and the People’s Republic of China
This article addresses the problem, to what extent a democratisation concept that follows the pattern „Civil Society as a vehicle“ and  “NGOs as fuel” can be applied to countries in transition. As a practical test, two comparative case studies, i.e. the Republic of Georgia and the People’s Republic of China, analyse the democratisation agendas of  international organisations in the respective countries as well as specific responses  in both political systems. The concluding part of the study suggests a conceptual re-orientation that would assign a considerably lower priority for the civil society idea within the framework of democratisation programmes for societies in transition.