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Elites in the New Democracies

Matevž Tomšič

The book deals with the analysis of key political actors in the ‘new democracies’ from Central and Eastern Europe. It is focused on character of elites, particularly political ones, and their role in the process of societal change. The author argues that elite configuration in terms of relationships between different elite factions as well as their cultural profile has strong impact on developmental dynamics of these societies. Although – at least in some countries from the region – political elites have managed to build the institutional foundations of systems of a market economy and a parliamentary democracy, with only small chances of any reverses taking place, they have been much less successful in establishing mechanisms for society’s self-organisation.

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In all countries of the former communist camp, a considerable change in the constitution of the political elite took place. Therefore, we are not anymore deal- ing with ideocratic types of a communist elite characterised by ideological and organisational uniformity. However, the configuration of political elites differs between individual countries, particularly with regard to the level of value con- sensus and structural integration on one hand and the level of social, ideologi- cal and interest differentiation on the other in their analysis of post-communist political elites. Prospects of long-term political stability are strongest in countries with con- sensual elite where all relevant political actors accept common rules of conduct and act in accordance with them. Meanwhile, a majority of countries from the former Soviet Union where a consensus on basic norms of political conduct is almost absent and where one faction of the political elite, which usually de- rives from structures of the former communist regime and is strongly dominant (although even here institutions of political democracy exist like political parties, multiparty elections etc.), the chances of a successful political transformation in the sense of the development of stabilised democracy are relatively poor. One can find that one part of the political elite with its roots in the power structure of the ‘old regime’ managed to survive and secure its political survival. Namely, the successors of the former Communist Party used to play an impor- tant role in most post-communist countries (the exceptions are Czech Republic and Estonia). However, these...

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