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Political Opposition in Theory and Central European Practice

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Michal Kubát

This book offers interpretations of different forms of political opposition in political theory and also in the contemporary development of politics and government in Central Europe. The problem is analyzed through a comparative approach. The first part of the book targets the question of definitions and typologies of political opposition, above all, in democratic, but partly also in non-democratic regimes. The second part deals with the question of models of political opposition in Central Europe after the fall of communism in the late twentieth century and in the present.

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Conclusion 154

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154 Conclusion Though a key phenomenon of modern democracy, political opposition is, nevertheless, an uncommon subject of analysis in contemporary political science. The theoretical foundations laid in the 1950’s and 1960’s primarily, (though not solely) by Robert Dahl, remain largely unsurpassed and endure as the chief basis of its analysis. Later authors usually only corrected or amended Dahl’s conception, but their contributions to the theory of political opposition did not signify a breach or rupture of the concept (Klaus von Beyme may have come closest). If we review the existing ‘political science balance sheet’ on the matter of political opposition and augment it with our own perceptions, we reach the following conclusions. Political opposition is always truly ‘political’ in its content and nature, as well as terminologically. This means that whether it is institutionalized (sensu stricto) or not (sensu largo), and even if it seems to be of a non- political character, in reality it always has a political nature. A terminologi- cal or evaluative distinction between ‘opposition’ and ‘political opposition’ based on the degree of its ‘political nature’ and institutionalization is there- fore unnecessary. Nevertheless, the more precise term ‘political opposition’ is more appropriate for political science. To a certain extent, the expression ‘opposition’ itself does not have any specific meaning, especially since it is simultaneously used in entirely different fields and contexts. Clearly, we find institutionalized political opposition primarily in de- mocracy, but it also exists in non-democratic regimes, though often taking different forms. It is important, however,...

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