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52 Program on Central and Eastern Europe

Coalition Formation and the Regime Divide in Central Europe


The study examines the formation of coalitions in East Central Europe after the democratic transitions of 1989. Existing explanations of coalition formations, which focus on either office-seeking and minimum wmning considerations, or on policy-seeking and spatial ideological convergence. However, they fail to account for the coalition patterns in the new democracies of East Central Europe. Instead, these parties' flrst goal is to develop clear and consistent reputations. To that end, they will form coalitions exclusively within the two camps of the regime divide: that is, amongst parties stemming from the former communist parties, and those with roots in the former opposition to the communist regimes. The two corollaries are that defectors are punished at unusually high rates, and the communist party successors seek, rather than are sought for, coalitions. This model explains 85% of the coalitions that formed in the region after 1989. The study then examines the communist successor parties, and how their efforts illustrate these dynamics .