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Political and Party Systems in Visegrad Group Countries. Vit Hlousek Associate professor, Masaryk university, Brno, Czech Republic [email protected] Visegrad Group. (East-)Central Europe International cooperation launched in 1991 Czech Republic Hungary Poland Slovakia.

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Political and party systems in visegrad group countries l.jpg

Political and Party Systems in Visegrad Group Countries

Vit Hlousek

Associate professor, Masaryk university, Brno, Czech Republic

[email protected]


Visegrad group l.jpg
Visegrad Group

  • (East-)Central Europe

  • International cooperation launched in 1991

  • Czech Republic

  • Hungary

  • Poland

  • Slovakia


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Triple transition concept

  • Economic transformation

  • Nation-building

  • Political transition – democratic transformation


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Democratic revolution 1989

  • General reasons (Jacques Rupnik)

    • Breakdown of socialist planned economy

    • Divergent forces within Soviet empire

    • Fatigue of ideologies


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Features of democratic transition

  • Round-table talks leading to democratization

  • „contract“ elections in Poland 1989, free elections in Czechoslovakia and Hungary 1990

  • Broad catch-all „umbrella“ democratic movements:

    • Solidarity (PL)

    • Civil Forum (CZ)

    • Hungarian Democratic Forum, Fidesz (HU)

    • Public against Violence (SK)

  • Social-democratization of communist parties versus the Czech case of unreformed communists

  • „Velvet divorce“ of Czechoslovakia 1992-1993


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Stages of political development

  • Transition (1989/90 – mid of the 1990s)

  • Early consolidation (mid of the 1990s – 2000)

  • Europeanisation (2000 – 2004)

  • Consolidation? (since 2004)

  • International Commitments

  • NATO 1999 (Slovakia 2002)

  • EU 2004


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Parliamentary versus Presidential

president

parliament

government

head of state

government

parliament

elections

elections

elections


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Political Systems of V4 countries

  • Parliamentary democracies in all cases

  • Poland till 1997 (new constitution) – some tendencies to semi-presidential model

  • Today valid constitutions:

    • Czech Republic and Slovakia 1992/3

    • Hungary 1949 (fundamentally amended since 1989, especially in 1989 and 1990)

    • Poland 1997


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Heads of State - elections

  • Czech president and Hungarian president elected by the parliament (for 5 years in both cases)

  • Only one re-election of the same person possible

  • Václav Klaus (CZ)

  • Lászlo Sólyom (HU)


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Heads of State – elections II

  • Polish and Slovak presidents elected directly by voters for 5 years

  • Two-round absolute majority system with two best in the 2nd round

  • Only one re-election of the same person possible

  • Slovak president elected by the Parliament till 1999

  • Lech Kaczyński (PL)

  • Ivan Gašparovič (SK)


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Heads of state – competences

  • Mostly symbolical

  • Representation functions

  • Nomination functions

  • Most of the competences need countersignature

  • Historically, there have been attempts to create politically strong presidency (Havel, Wałęsa, Kacyzński, Klaus)


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Governments – general features

  • Responsible to parliaments or to lower chambers (CZ, PL)

  • General practice of Coalition governments

  • Strong position of prime minister in HU, PL, SK

  • Weaker position of some Czech prime ministers (depending on composition of coalition)


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Governments – unique features

  • Non-balanced coalitions in Hungary (big + small party) since 1998 and Poland (agrarians as pivotal party)

  • Minority governments in CZ (1996-7 Klaus II, 1998 Tošovský, 1998-2002 Zeman – opposition agreement, 2006-2009 Topolánek)

  • Illiberal tendencies in the 1990s in Slovakia (Vladimír Mečiar)

  • Sometimes, far right and populist parties have coalition potential (HU 1998-2002, PL 2006-2007, SK since 2006)


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Parliaments

  • Bi-cameral Czech and Polish Parliaments:

    • Parliament of the Czech republic:

      • Chamber of Deputies 200 members

      • Senate 81 members

    • National Assembly:

      • Sejm 460 members

      • Senate 100 members

  • Unicameral Hungarian and Slovak Parliaments:

    • National Assembly (HU) 386 members

    • National Council of the Slovak Republic (SK) 150 members


Czech parliament l.jpg

House of Deputies

Elected for 4 years

PR, 5 % threshold

14 districts according to regions

Lower chamber

Issues legislation

Controls the government

Can vote down the government

Problems with preliminary dissolving just now

Senate

Elected for 6 years

Each year 1/3 of senators

Absolute majority formula in single member constituencies

Weaker, only suppressive veto on normal legislation

Veto on constitutional laws

Institution of continuity and stability

Takes part at presidential elections

Czech Parliament


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House of Deputies (Sejm)

Elected for 4 years

Many changes of electoral law till 2001

PR, 5 % threshold, 8 % for coalitions

41 districts

Lower chamber

Issues legislation

Controls the government

Can vote down the government

Senate

Elected for 4 years

Simple majority formula

40 constituencies per 2-4 candidates

Extremely Weak

Dependent on lower chamber

Polish Parliament


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Hungarian parliament

  • Super-mixed electoral system

  • 176 members are elected in single-member constituencies (two rounds, absolute majority in the 1st round, relative majority in the 2nd – 15 % go to the 2nd round)

  • 152 by PR in 20 multi-member constituencies (5 % threshold applies)

  • 58 so-called compensation mandates (5 % threshold applies)

  • A product of compromise before first free elections in 1990.


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Slovak parliament

  • Extremely proportional system

  • One electoral district = country as a whole

  • 5 % threshold for parties

  • 7 % for 2 and 3 party coalitions

  • 10 % for larger coalitions


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Parties and party systems

  • Mixture of mass parties, catch-all parties, and cartel parties

  • Problem – lack of public trust to parties

  • Extremely limited membership (e.g. ODS 30 000 members only)

  • Some anti-systemic parties remain (KSCM)

  • New populist tendencies (Jobbik, Smer)


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Party landscape in the Czech Republic

  • Elections 2006

  • Civic democratic party 36 % of the vote (Topolánek)

  • Czech Social Democratic Party 32 36 % of the vote (Paroubek)

  • Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia 13 36 % of the vote

  • Christian and Democratic Union 7 36 % of the vote

  • Green Party 6 36 % of the vote


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Party landscape in the Hungary

  • Elections 2006

  • Hungarian Socialist Party 40 36 % of the vote

  • Union of Young Democrats – KDNP 42 36 % of the vote (Orbán)

  • Union of Free Democrats 6 36 % of the vote

  • Hungarian Democratic Forum 4 36 % of the vote


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Party landscape in Poland

  • Elections 2007

  • Civic Platform 42 36 % of the vote (Tusk)

  • Law and Justice 32 36 % of the vote (Kacziński)

  • Left and Democrats 13 36 % of the vote

  • Polish Peoples’ Party 9 36 % of the vote


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Party landscape in Slovakia

  • Elections 2006

  • Direction – Social Democracy 29 36 % of the vote (Fico)

  • Slovak Democratic and Christian Union 18 36 % of the vote (Dzurinda)

  • Slovak National Party 12 36 % of the vote (Slota)

  • Party of Hungarian Coalition 12 36 % of the vote

  • Movement for Democratic Slovakia 9 36 % of the vote(Mečiar)

  • Christian-Democratic Movement 8 36 % of the vote



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Party Systems – general evaluation

  • Format of limited pluralism in all cases (Slovakia on the edge of extreme pluralism)

  • In-between Sartori’s types of moderate and polarized pluralisms – reason:

    • Anti-systemic parties (CZ)

    • Only slow decline of high ideological polarization

    • High level of citizens’ distrust to parties

    • Bi-polar tendencies (esp. HU)



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