Robert Rohrschneider and Stephen Whitefield "Consistent Choice Sets? The Stances of Political Parties towards European Integration in 10 Central East European Democracies, 2003-2007". European Journal of Public Policy. Forthcoming, 2009.
Political representation in western democracies is largely accomplished through and by parties. Surprisingly, however, few studies directly examine how well parties in post-communist democracies function as effective agents of representation. Furthermore, the few exception to this rule focus on one time point only even though the concept of representation contains a dynamic component: parties need to offer consistent choices in order to communicate with voters in ways that provide clear alternatives to voters, and that establish incentives for parties to follow through on election promises. We therefore examine the party stances towards European integration between 2003 and 2007. Contrary to the predominantly negative assessments in the research literature, we find that parties’ policy stances, including centrally those concerned with economic redistribution and welfare policies, establish several preconditions for effective and consistent representation in new democracies in CEE.