"Political Parties and the Transition to Democracy" provides a systematic comparison of the democratic transitions in both Eastern and Southern Europe. Political Parties often play a crucial role in the process of democratization and the establishment of new parliamentary democracies. They often form as a result of opposition to a previous authoritarian regime and their performance during the transition to democracy can give a good indication as to the nature of, and prospects for, the new democracy. Four main themes concerning the role of parties are examined - "coping with the past" (party identities and inheritances); the formation and performance of new democratic political elites; parties and alliances/coalitions; and their electoral behavior. These themes are discussed in comparative perspective with the aid of four case studies from both Southern and Eastern Europe. The countries covered include Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Hungary, Romania, Poland and Bulgaria. Democratization is a very complex process because it operates on many levels; By studying political parties this book focuses on an area that links many of the levels. "Political Parties and the Transition of Democracy" makes sense of democratization and the role of parties in that process.

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