Building States and Markets After Communism: The Perils of Polarized Democracy

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Building States and Markets After Communism: The Perils of Polarized Democracy (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics)
By Timothy Frye
Cambridge University Press, 2010
312 pp. $27.99
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Frye brings a particularly rigorous approach to explaining the speed and constancy of postsocialist economic reform and the creation of state institutions conducive to it. Count him among those who see the state -- at least a state capable of efficient regulation -- as crucial to the development of a proper market. Particularly in democratic and semidemocratic settings, he finds that the degree of partisan discord between the executive and legislative branches of government to be the decisive factor. Democratic states blessed with little partisanship make reforms more rapidly and consistently; as partisanship increases, reform suffers. Frye reaches this simple but original proposition through exceedingly painstaking argumentation -- first by establishing a statistical correlation between political polarization and its seeming effects, next by using a survey of business attitudes in 23 countries to establish causal links, and then by rounding out the analysis with a finely textured comparison of outcomes in Bulgaria, Poland, Russia, and Uzbekistan.