The emergence and development of political parties in post-communist Poland
This study provides a detailed, empirically based examination of the institutional dynamics of the new parties and political groupings that have emerged Poland, the largest country of the former Soviet bloc, since the collapse of communist rule in 1989. It draws upon and utilises the models developed in the contemporary West European party literature as an analytical framework with which to examine the main parties from a structural and organisational perspective and considers how they approximate to these taxonomical ideals. It examines the six main parties and political groupings around which the Polish party system appeared to be consolidating in the run up to the 1997 parliamentary elections. The study considers: the internal distribution of power and modes of representation with the parties; the role of the party bureaucracy; the relationship between the parties and their electorates; the development of parties as membership organisations; and the relationship between parties and the state. It concludes that the new Polish parties are strong at the level of state institutions and appear capable of fulfilling their role in terms of structuring elections, institutions and recruiting elites. However, they are also likely to develop as remote and somewhat distant institutions that are weak at the societal level. Given that the nature of the links between parties and their electorates are likely to remain fairly shallow, the new parties are likely to prove less successful at aggregating societal interests and relatively ineffective in mobilising the citizenry and integrating them into the political process. The study, therefore, draws broader conclusions about the process of party development in post-communist Eastern Europe at the same time as augmenting the relatively undeveloped literature on internal party dynamics.