In This Review

Regional Economic Voting: Russia, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, 1990-1999
Regional Economic Voting: Russia, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, 1990-1999
By Joshua A. Tucker
Cambridge University Press, 2006, 444 pp

Many have studied the impact of politics on economic reform in the postsocialist countries, and many have studied the impact of economics on electoral outcomes in established democracies, particularly the United States. Far fewer have considered the effects of economic conditions on elections in postsocialist societies, and none so thoroughly or systematically as Tucker does in this book. In a very rigorous study of 20 presidential and parliamentary elections in five postsocialist countries, with results compared at a regional level, he finds that voters do not, as they do in the United States, favor incumbents when life is good and "throw the bums out" when life is bad, but rather that the "winners," those living in regions where economic conditions are better, vote for parties identified with political and economic transition, and the "losers," in regions where conditions are worse, vote for parties associated with the "old (socialist) regime." This, however, is a bare-bones synopsis of a hypothesis-rich study that not only adds much to our understanding of how economics affects voting behavior in the misty, shapeless political environment of would-be postsocialist democracies, but also suggests an imaginative alternative path of inquiry in regard to established multiparty democracies.