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Local Government Institutionalization in Hungary

Gábor Soós

Why are local political organizations enduring in certain municipalities and ephemeral in others? This book explores the systematic factors that influence the level of Local Party Institutionalization (LPI). The analysis of LPI in Hungary, a new democracy, shows that LPI there mainly depends on the electoral system, the functional size, stability and average age of the population. The local chapters of national parties, especially those of parliamentary parties, appear to be more durable than the civic organizations acting as local parties.
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Chapter 1: Local Party Institutionalization

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The first task of the project is to present a conceptual framework that can be the basis of the research design. Therefore, the following chapter defines the concept of local party, institutionalization and local party institutionalization. It also explains why local parties matter for both local democracy and national parties, and why parties are formed and maintained.

Well-established political systems function differently from weakly institutionalized ones. The level of institutionalization of political actors and processes shapes the perception of political reality, calculation, and behavior, influences the durability of governments and their policy performance, and defines the common interests. In Huntington’s (1968: 24) words:

Political institutions have moral as well as structural dimensions. A society with weak political institutions lacks the ability to curb the excesses of the personal and parochial desires. Politics is a Hobbesian world of unrelenting competition among social forces – between man and man, family and family, clan and clan, region and region, class and class – a competition unmediated by more comprehensive political organizations. The “amoral familism” of Banfield’s backward society has its counterparts in amoral clanism, amoral groupism, amoral classism. Morality requires trust; trust involves predictability; and predictability requires regularized and institutionalized patterns of behavior. Without strong political institutions, society lacks the means to define and to realize its common interests. The capacity to create political institutions is the capacity to create public interests.

Local communities in Europe in general, and in Hungary in particular, are obviously provided with governing institutions....

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