A theory of constitutional change : game theoretical analysis of socio-political processes in Poland, 1976-81
This study develops a theoretical framework to explain processes of constitutional change and applies it to socio-political processes in Poland, 1976-81.1 develop a dynamic game- theoretical approach within the framework of public choice theory. Events are explained by individual actions under given structural conditions. The study contributes to this field in two aspects. First, through theoretical arguments and empirical analysis it illuminates how structural changes and dynamics of collective action influence individuals' beliefs and preferences. Secondly, it provides a framework for the analysis of constitutional change specifying the starting and ending conditions as well as the mechanism of such processes. The study explains events of constitutional change as the outcomes of complex processes of belief change in which three interacting factors play a major role: the available information to the players, the level of coordination within the dominant groups in the process and individual entrepreneurship. Asymmetries in these parameters influence power relations thus leading to particular institutional changes. The theoretical arguments are used to explain two events of constitutional change which took place in Poland during 1976-81: 1) the Gdansk agreement (31.8.80) which granted political rights to Polish workers allowing the establishment of Solidarity as an independent trade union; 2) the imposition of martial law on 13 December 1981. These events provide a special environment to study the internal mechanism of constitutional change since they were isolated from any 'wave' of transition or major international events. They involved complex interactions between social and political factors which have not been systematically analyzed so far. The empirical analysis explains the Polish events using primary sources in form of statements, documents, the full transcript of the August 1980 negotiations and secret Politburo protocols as well as historical and journalistic descriptions. These events demonstrate the power embodied in individual entrepreneurship and in citizens' collective action. Explaining them by theoretical models contributes to the theory of democracy and political participation.