In This Review

Political Parties After Communism: Developments in East-Central Europe
Political Parties After Communism: Developments in East-Central Europe
By Tomas Kostelecky
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002, 213 pp.

A trim, lucid, first cut at the evolution of party systems in postcommunist Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. After briefly tracing the history of parties in those countries from the nineteenth century through communism, Kostelecky compares how parties there are being shaped, first by historical and cultural effects, then by emerging social cleavages, and finally by the electoral systems adopted. It turns out that all three dimensions, including distant historical patterns, do produce variation among the four countries. But his key finding is that in at least the first three of these countries, the trend is from personalized to party politics, from the politics of symbols to the politics of vested interests, and toward a closer correspondence between social structures and parties. Although not the most theoretically advanced study, the book provides a very clear, informative, and thoughtful comparison.