CERGU-researcher Jan Rovny has received funding from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond for a new CERGU project with the title Breaking the Myth of Homogeneity: Explaining the Variance in Party Competition Across Eastern Europe.
The study of political competition is central to understanding the nature and quality of democracy. Students of eastern European politics consider the communist experience together with the varied paths to democracy as the primary determinants of eastern party competition. Recent empirical evidence, however, uncovers significant variance of party competition across the region. While some systems maintain the expected eastern European competition structure, others reflect a western pattern, highlighting the inadequacy of traditional explanations. This project argues that insufficient attention has been paid to how pre-communist conflicts shape contemporary party competition in the region. Consequently, it sets out to analyze how long-lasting cultural, ethnic and religious conflicts, which survived throughout the communist era, frame party competition in eastern Europe today. To better explain the variance of party competition structure in eastern Europe, the project first assesses the cultural, ethnic and religious conflicts of interwar party systems. It then studies how these conflicts are strategically utilized by contemporary political parties. The project combines quantitative and historical-qualitative research methods. By identifying the contemporary impact of lasting political conflicts in different eastern European countries, the project breaks down the myth of homogeneity of the region, providing more nuanced knowledge to analysts and policy makers.