1. bookVolume 16 (2020): Issue 1 (April 2020)
Journal Details
First Published
16 Apr 2015
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
access type Open Access

Cleavages in the Post-Communist Countries of Europe: A Review

Published Online: 31 Mar 2020
Volume & Issue: Volume 16 (2020) - Issue 1 (April 2020)
Page range: 231 - 258
Journal Details
First Published
16 Apr 2015
Publication timeframe
2 times per year

This review of the historical studies of cleavages and seeks to bridge the gap between the historical study of cleavages and frozen cleavage theory and the post-communist states of Europe which have transitioned to democracy. The study identifies the literature on frozen cleavages and new divides which have arisen transition, as well as the primary actors in their political representation and issue positioning. The key literature in the development of studies on cleavages was provided by Lipset and Rok-kan, but their work focused mostly on Western democracies and did not include any of the countries which were behind the iron curtain at the time. However, the transition of the post-communist nations of Europe are now several decades old. Since the demise of communist regimes in Europe, much literature has been produced on the newly democratic regimes developing there. This article provides a broad overview of general trends in cleavage literature and more specific developments for Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. The main findings were that there are frozen cleavages present in the post-communist countries of Europe, but that much of the developments since the fall of communism seem to be unpredictable and change-able — a fact reflected by the instability and constant change in the party systems.


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