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The Quality of Democracy in Eastern Europe


  • 13 b/w illus. 17 tables
  • Page extent: 252 pages
  • Size: 234 x 156 mm
  • Weight: 0.54 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521110334)

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$113.00 (C)

How does democracy work in the new democracies of Eastern Europe? Do the people actually rule as one would expect in a democracy or do the legacies of communism and the constraints of the transition weaken popular control? This book presents a new framework for conceptualizing and measuring democratic quality and applies this framework to multiple countries and policy areas in the region. It defines democratic quality as the degree to which citizens are able to hold leaders accountable for their performance and keep policy close to their preferences. Its surprising conclusion, drawn from large-N statistical analyses and small-N case studies, is that citizens exercise considerable control over their rulers in Eastern European democracies. Despite facing difficult economic circumstances and an unfavorable inheritance from communism, these countries rapidly constructed relatively high-quality democracies.


Preface; 1. Introduction; Part I. Conceptual Analysis: 2. Assessing the quality of democracy; Part II. Statistical Analysis: Introduction to the Statistical Analyses: 3. Electoral accountability; 4. Mandate responsiveness; 5. Policy responsiveness; Part III. Case Study Analysis: Introduction to the Case Studies: 6. The politics of pension reforms; 7. The politics of housing reforms; Part IV. Implications: 8. Explaining democratic quality; 9. Conclusions; Bibliography.


“What is the quality of democracy in postcommunist East Central Europe? In this provocative and intriguing analysis, Andrew Roberts finds surprising answers to this important question and demonstrates how these countries overcame both the legacies of authoritarian rule and the challenges of regime transformation.”
– Anna Grzymala-Busse, University of Michigan

“Roberts has produced a fascinating study of democratic quality in Central and Eastern Europe. The rise of postcommunist Central European states to the top ranks of world democracies has been nothing short of remarkable. But how substantial is this democracy? Roberts shows that by measures of electoral accountability, mandate responsiveness, and policy responsiveness, Central European countries do quite well. Central European voters punish incumbents and are consulted or included in policy making. Most interestingly, Roberts persuasively identifies a cause for the surprisingly high quality of postcommunist democracy: socioeconomic modernization. Despite, or perhaps because of, communism, Central Europe has a highly ‘educated, relatively egalitarian, middle-class society’ that demands – and gets – representation.”
– Mitchell A. Orenstein, Johns Hopkins University

“Few works in comparative politics consider the normative foundations of democracy. In this remarkable book, Roberts develops a rigorous conceptual basis for the idea of democratic quality, defined in terms of citizen rule. Drawing on multiple and diverse data sources, Roberts applies a sophisticated conceptual framework to the young democracies of postcommunist Europe, challenging the common presumption that they are of lower quality than established democracies. Instead, as rigorous statistical analysis and in-depth case studies show, citizen rule may even be more salient in these and other new democracies. This important study offers a clear, comprehensive, and theoretically informed account of the state of democracy in Eastern Europe 20 years after the demise of communism. It is required reading not only for comparativists already interested in the region but also for all scholars of democratic politics.”
– Anna Seleny, Tufts University

“In this outstanding and timely book, Roberts makes a groundbreaking contribution: He brings conceptual clarity and methodological rigor to the study of the quality of democracy. For Roberts, linkages between citizens and policy-makers determine democratic quality; he shows us how to measure these linkages using quantitative and qualitative methods. In the East European cases this yields an important result: these new democracies are relatively robust.”
– Milada Anna Vachudova, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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