Public policy in Central Europe

Konstantinos  J.  Papadoulis: Post-communist Political and Public Policy Research: A Comparative Approach
The collapse of the communist regimes has led to a number of different research approaches in post-communist political and public policy studies. These include political culture, “transitology”, nationalism, institutionalism, political economy and public policy process and structure. This article critically reviews these approaches, comparing them to the more general methods of research in comparative politics and comparative public policy. On this comparative basis it presents the strengths of the major approaches and what contribution each is making, and argues that an overall public policy structure and process perspective may be the most interesting and revealing for post-communist societies.

Istvan Stumpf: The first year of the Gyurcsány Government – Government Policy
Ferenc Gyurcsány, who resigned from the position of the Minister for Sport already preparing for reorganisation after the defeat of Peter Medgyessy, mastered the situation without hesitation, which presented itself with the government crisis of 2004 August. Due to the economic and intellectual background, which he created in recent years, and the mobilisation of the party membership, he managed to change the attitude of the socialist party within a few days. A two third majority appointed him as prime minister candidate. With this move the socio-liberal government coalition could get rid of an immense ballast of the Medgyessy-era – a weak, fallible prime minister with a difficult style, the overwhelming pressure from unachievable promises and the responsibility for a bankruptcy situation of the state budget. Gyurcsány could take up the leading position of the government as a messiah. The split of the four-year term into two undoubtedly resulted in a new direction in the course of left-liberal government. Firmness, activity, cleared-out perspectives and chances for a victory in the upcoming elections rule the second ‘act’ under the leadership of Gyurcsány. With this innovative solution the left-liberal coalition has been able to reach the outer limits of the manipulation of voter’s judgement and opinion.

Hortenzia Hosszú: Comparative Study on Role of Cabinets in Japan and Great Britain
The Japanese and the British political systems share many common features; moreover the structure of the state is broadly similar. Indeed, some of these common features are by design, for the Japanese political system is mainly modeled on the British system. The study compare the Japanese and the British Cabinets’ roles and performances in four key areas: (1) the decision-making capacity within the cabinet system (Cabinet as a decision-making body); (2) overseeing government policy in the domestic sphere (Cabinet as a coordinating and overseeing body); (3) managing executive relations with legislature (Cabinet as a legislative body); (4) and finally power of the Prime Minister within his Cabinet. Overall, the study expects to answer the question as to which Cabinet has greater capacity for coordinating the policy-making process through the Westminster structural framework. In both of these countries the cabinet is a body of high-ranking members of government, typically representing the core executive.

Irena Baclija and Marjan Brezovsek: Decentralisation of Political Participation – City Quarter Communities in Ljubljana
The participation of residents of local self-governing communities in decision making within the Slovenian local self-government system is relatively little known and researched upon. Particularly, this applies to empirical research. The urban municipality of Ljubljana (henceforth the UML), encompassing the Slovenian capital, has had city quarter communities as new narrowest forms of local self-government system since 2001. They have considerable potential of population’s political participation in decision-making process, which has been relatively unexploited. The analysis of the issues (regarding the functioning of the narrowest parts of the municipality in Slovenia) performed on the basis of real-life examples of city quarter communities of the UML shows that there are still unexploited possibilities of population and city quarters’ participation in decision making within the political bodies.

Iuliana Precupeţu and Marius Precupeţu: The Mechanisms of Democratic Consolidation in Romania
The paper attempts to assess the state of democracy in Romania. Taking into consideration the criteria that a democracy needs to fulfill in order to be called consolidated, we will try to describe and explain the characteristics of the democratic order in Romania. Comparisons with other countries in Europe will be employed in order to better ascertain the specific place that Romania holds in the European context mainly in regard to political support. By including reflections on democratic processes and procedures, the paper is trying to emphasize political support in Romania and its relationship to European Integration. The present paper does not aim at exhaustive analysis of democracy but point out to mechanisms that were employed in the process of democratic consolidation in Romania.

Ioan Mărginean: Economic conditions and Satisfaction with democracy in Central Europe and in Romania
The article tries to highlight the general characteristics of the process of post-communist transformation and the particularities of Eastern and Central European countries, with possible hierarchies, taking West Germany as (relative) standard of comparison. It aims at analyzing economic situation and satisfaction with democracy as well as the relationship between the two. The data used in this article comes from a survey carried out in two waves: first one 1990-1992, “Political and Economic Attitudes” which included 10 former socialist countries and second one in 1998 – 2001 “Consolidation of democracy” which included 14 countries.

Péter Horváth: Cabinet Decision-making in Hungary
This paper seeks to provide an explanation of cabinet functioning and decision-making. The paper’s main point of departure is major determinant of cabinet functioning is party competition. Two or three political cycles can be identified in functioning of cabinets in Hungary. Factionalization of coalition parties, leadership challenge vis-a-vis a prime minister, changing approval rate of coalition parties/politicians and coalition consultation meetings are factors which have strong influence on how cabinet decisions are made. Cabinets of Hungary are also compared with West European and Central and Southern East European counterparts over the period of 1990-2003. Comparison includes cabinet meetings, cabinet size, cabinet committees, and duration of cabinets, prime ministers and ministers. As to duration cabinets in Hungary show high stability and durability below the surface of fierce political competition among parties.