Skip to main content Accesibility Help

Performing to Type? How State Institutions Matter in East Central Europe


While there is much research on the developmental trajectories of post-Communist state institutions and the external and domestic influences that have shaped their paths, much less is known about institutional performance, that is, the manner in which institutions operate and the extent to which they produce predictable patterns of effects. Academic analysis has been reluctant to shift attention from institutionalisation to effects, not least because of the fluidity of many formal institutions. The present article documents that over the last decade state institutions in East Central Europe have increasingly stabilized, especially at the macro-institutional level. The analysis highlights insights from institutional theory – notably how degrees, time, preferences and resources matter – to encourage further research in the field.

Corresponding author
Hide All
Ágh, A. (ed.) (1994) The Emergence of East Central European Parliaments: The First Steps. Budapest: Hungarian Centre of Democracy Studies.
Armingeon, K. and Careja, R. (2008) ‘Institutional Change and Stability in Postcommunist Countries, 1990–2002’, European Journal of Political Research, 47, 436466.
Baylis, T. A. (1996) ‘Presidents versus Prime Ministers: Shaping Executive Authority in Eastern Europe’, World Politics, 48:3, 297323.
Baylis, T. A. (2007) ‘Embattled Executives: Prime Ministerial Weakness in East Central Europe’, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 40, 81106.
Beliaev, M. V. (2006) ‘Presidential Powers and Consolidation of New Postcommunist Democracies’, Comparative Political Studies, 39:3, 375398.
Blondel, J. and Müller-Rommel, F. (2001) Cabinets in Eastern Europe. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Blondel, J., Müller-Rommel, F. and Malova, D. (2007) Governing New European Democracies. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Bond, J. (2006) ‘Concerning Constitutional Courts in Central and Eastern Europe’, International Public Policy Review, 2:2, 525.
Brusis, M. (2004) ‘Europeanization, Party Government or Legacies? Explaining Executive Governance in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Hungary’, Comparative European Politics, 2, 163184.
Brusis, M. and Dimitrov, V. (2001) ‘Executive Configuration and Fiscal Performance in Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe’, Journal of European Public Policy, 8: 6, 888910.
Brusis, M., Staronova, K. and Zubek, R. (eds.) (2007) Strategic Policy-Making in Central and Eastern Europe. Bratislava: Nispacee.
Bunce, V. (1997) ‘Presidents and the Transition in Eastern Europe’, in von Mettenheim, K. (ed.) Presidential Institutions and Democratic Politics: Comparing Regional and National Contexts. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 161–176.
Carey, J. M., Formanek, F., Karpowicz, E. (2002) ‘Legislative Autonomy in New Regimes: The Czech and Polish Cases’. In Loewenberg, G., Squire, P. and Kiewiet, D.R. (eds.) Legislatures: Comparative Perspectives on Representative Assemblies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Cheibub, J. A. (2007) Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, and Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Clark, T. D., Verseckait, E., Lukosaitis, A. (2006) ‘The Role of Committee Systems in Post-communist Legislatures: A Case Study of the Lithuanian Seimas’. Europe-Asia Studies, 58:5, 731750.
Congleton, R.D. and Swedenborg, B. (eds.) (2006) Democratic Constitutional Design and Public Policy. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Cooter, R. D. (2002) The Strategic Constitution. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Cox, G. W. (2000) ‘On the Effects of Legislative Rules’, Legislative Studies Quarterly, 25:2, 169192.
Dimitrov, V., Goetz, K. H. and Wollmann, H. (2006) Governing after Communism: Institutions and Policymaking. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
Dimitrova, A. (2002) ‘Enlargement, Institution-building and the EU's Administrative Capacity Requirement’, West European Politics, 25:4, 171190.
Dimitrova, A. (ed.) (2004) Driven to Change: The European Union's Enlargement Viewed from the East. Manchester: MUP
Dimitrova, A. (2005) ‘Europeanization and Civil Service Reform in Central and Eastern Europe’, in Schimmelfennig, F. and Sedelmeier, U. (eds.) The Europeanization of Central and Eastern Europe. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 7190.
Elgie, R. (ed.) (1999) Semi-Presidentialism in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Elgie, R. and Moestrup, S. (2008) ‘The Impact of Semi-presidentialism on the Performance of Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe’, in idem, (eds.) Semi-presidentialism in Central and Eastern Europe. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 239257.
Elster, J., Offe, C. and Preuss, U. (1998) Institutional Design in Post-Communist Societies: Rebuilding the Ship at Sea. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Emmert, F. (2003) ‘Administrative and Court Reform in Central and Eastern Europe’, European Law Journal, 9:3, 288315.
Eriksen, S. (2007) ‘Institution Building in Central and Eastern Europe: Foreign Influences and Domestic responses’, Review of Central and East European Law, 32, 333369.
Eurobarometer (2009) Eurobarometer 69/3.
Falkner, G. (2010) ‘Institutional Performance and Compliance with EU Law: Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia’, Journal of Public Policy, 30, 1.
Flockhart, T. (ed.) (2005) Socializing Democratic Norms: The Role of International Organizations for the Construction of Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Galligan, D. J. and Matczak, M. (2007) ‘Formalism in Post-communist Courts: Empirical Study on Judicial Discretion in Polish Administrative Law’, in Coman, R. and De Waele, J-M. (eds.) Judicial Reforms in Central and Eastern European Countries. Bruges: Vanden Broele, 226250.
Galligan, D. J. and Smilov, D. M. (1998) Administrative Law in Central and Eastern Europe, 1996–1998. Budapest: Central European University Press.
Goetz, K. H. (ed.) (2001) Executive Governance in Central and Eastern Europe, special issue of Journal of European Public Policy, 8:6.
Goetz, K. H. (2005) ‘The New Member States and the EU’, in Bulmer, S. und Lequesne, C. (eds.) Member States and the European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 254280.
Goetz, K. H. and Margetts, H. (1999) ‘The Solitary Centre: The Core Executive in Central and Eastern Europe’, Governance, 12:4, 425453.
Goetz, K. H. and Zubek, R. (2007) ‘Government, Parliament and Lawmaking in Poland’, Journal of Legislative Studies, 13:4, 517538.
Goetz, K. H. and Meyer-Sahling, J.-H. (2009) ‘Political Time in the EU: Dimensions, Perspectives, Theories’, Journal of European Public Policy, 16: 2.
Grabbe, H. (2005) The EU's Transformative Power: Europeanization Through Conditionality in Central and Eastern Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Grzymala-Busse, A. (2003) ‘Political Competition and the Politicization of the State in East Central Europe’, Comparative Political Studies, 36:10, 11231147.
Grzymala-Busse, A. (2006) ‘The Discreet Charm of Formal Institutions: Postcommunist Party Competition and State Oversight’, Comparative Political Studies, 39:3, 271300.
Grzymala-Busse, A. (2007) Rebuilding Leviathan: Party Competition and State Exploitation in Post-Communist Democracies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hallerberg, M. and von Hagen, J. (2006) Budget Processes in Poland: Promoting Fiscal and Economic Stability. Warsaw: Ernst & Young Better Government Report.
Hallerberg, M., Strauch, R. and von Hagen, J. (2009) Fiscal Governance in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hallerberg, M. and Yläoutinen, S. (2010) ‘Political Power, Fiscal Institutions and Budgetary Outcomes in Central and Eastern Europe’, Journal of Public Policy, 30, 1.
Hammond, T. H. and Butler, C. K. (2003) ‘Some Complex Answers to the Simple Question ‘Do Institutions Matter?’: Policy Choice and Policy Change in Presidential and Parliamentary Systems’, Journal of Theoretical Politics, 15:2, 145200.
Henderson, K. (1998) (ed.) Back to Europe: Central and Eastern Europe and the European Union. Routledge.
Herron, E. and Randazzo, K. A. (2003) ‘The Relationship between Independence and Judicial Review in Post-communist Courts’, The Journal of Politics, 65, 422438.
Hille, P. and Knill, Ch. (2006) “‘It's the Bureaucracy, Stupid’. The Implementation of the Acquis Communautaire in EU Candidate Countries, 1999–2003’, European Union Politics, 7:4, 531552.
Hood, C. (1983) Tools of Government. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Hughes, J., Sasse, G., Gordon, C. C. (2004) Europeanization and Regionalization in the EU's Enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe: The Myth of Conditionality. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Jacoby, W. (2004) The Enlargement of the European Union and NATO: Ordering from the Menu in Central Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jahn, D. and Müller-Rommel, F. (2010) ‘Political Institutions and Policy Performance in New Democracies: A Comparative Analysis of Central Eastern Europe’, in Journal of Public Policy, 30, 1.
Kopecký, P. (2004) ‘Power to the Executive! The Changing Executive––Legislative Relations in Eastern Europe’. Journal of Legislative Studies 10(2/3): 142153.
Kopecký, P. and Spirova, M. (2008) ‘Parliamentary Opposition in Post-Communist Democracies: Power of the Powerless’. Journal of Legislative Studies 14(1/2): 133159.
Lane, J.-E. and Ersson, S. (2000) The New Institutional Politics: Performance and Outcomes, London: Routledge.
Lijphart, A., and Waisman, C. (eds.) (1996) Institutional Design in New Democracies: Eastern Europe and Latin America. Westview Press.
Linek, L. and Rakusanova, P. (2005) ‘Why Czech Parliamentary Party Groups Vote Less Unitedly. The Role of Frequent Voting and Big Majorities in Passing Bills’, Czech Sociological Review, 41:3, 423442.
Lippert, B. and Schneider, H. (1995) Monitoring Association and Beyond: The European Union and the Visegrad States. Bonn: Europe Union Verlag.
Lippert, B. and Becker, P. (1999) Towards EU Membership: Transformation and Integration in Poland and the Czech Republic. Bonn: Europa Union Verlag.
Longley, A. and Ágh, A. (eds.) (1997) The Changing Roles of Parliamentary Committees. Appleton WI: Research Committee of Legislative Specialists, IPSA.
Magalhaes, P. C. (1999) ‘The Politics of Judicial Reform in Eastern Europe’, Comparative Politics, 32: 1, 4362.
Mansfeldova, Z., Linek, L. and Rakusanova, P. (eds.) (2005) Legislatures and Representation in Central and Eastern Europe, special issue of Czech Sociological Review, 41:3.
March, J. G. and Olsen, J. P. (1989) Rediscovering Institutions. New York: Free Press.
March, J. G. and Olsen, J. P. (2006) ‘Elaborating the “New Institutionalism”’. In Rhodes, R.A.W., Binder, S.A. and Rockman, B.A. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Political Institutions. Oxford: OUP.
Matczak, M., Bencze, M. and Kühn, Z. (2010) ‘Constitutions, EU Law and Judicial Strategies in Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland’, Journal of Public Policy, 30, 1.
McGann, A. J. (2006) ‘Social Choice and Comparing Legislatures: Constitutional versus Institutional Constraints’, The Journal of Legislative Studies, 12:3–4, 443461.
Melone, A. P. (1996) ‘The Struggle for Judicial Independence and the Transition towards Democracy in Bulgaria’, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 29:2, 231243.
Meyer, G. (2008) ‘Formal and Informal Politics: Questions, Concepts and Subjects’, in idem, (ed.) Formal Institutions and Informal Politics in Central and Eastern Europe. Opladen: Barbara Budrich Publishers, 2nd revised and updated ed., 15142.
Meyer-Sahling, J.-H. (2004) ‘Civil Service Reform in Post-communist Europe: The Bumpy Road to Depoliticisation’, West European Politics, 27:1, 71103.
Meyer-Sahling, J.-H. (2006a) ‘The Rise of the Partisan State? Parties, Patronage and the Ministerial Bureaucracy in Hungary’, Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, 22:3, 274297.
Meyer-Sahling, J.-H. (2006b) ‘The Institutionalization of Political Discretion in Post-communist Civil Service Systems: The Case of Hungary’, Public Administration, 84:3, 693716.
Meyer-Sahling, J.-H. (2008) ‘The Changing Colours of the Post-communist State: The Politicisation of the Senior Civil Service in Hungary’, European Journal of Political Research, 47, 133.
Meyer-Sahling, J.-H. (2009) Post-Accession Sustainability of Civil Service Reform in East Central Europe. Paris: OECD-SIGMA Report.
Millard, F. (2004) Elections, Parties, and Representation in Post-Communist Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Millard, F. (2008) ‘Executive-Legislative Relations in Poland, 1991–2005: Institutional Relations in Transition’, Journal of Legislative Studies, 14:4, 367393.
Müller-Rommel, F. (2008) ‘Prime Ministerial Staff in Post-communist Central and Eastern Europe: A Role Assessment by Cabinet Ministers’, Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, 24:2, 256271.
Müller-Rommel, F., Fettelschoss, K. and Harfst, P. (2004) ‘Party Government in Central Eastern European Democracies: A Data Collection (1990–2003)’, European Journal of Political Research, 43:6, 869894.
Nicolaides, P. (2002) From Graphite to Diamond: The Importance of Institutional Structure in Establishing Capacity for Effective and Credible Application of EU Rules. Masstricht: EIPA.
Nunberg, B. et al. (1999) Public Administration Development in the EU Accession Context. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Nunberg, B. (2000) Ready for Europe. Public Administration Reform and the European Accession in Central and Eastern Europe. Washington, DC: World Bank.
O'Dwyer, C. (2004) ‘Runaway State Building: How Political Parties Shape States in Postcommunist Eastern Europe’, World Politics, 56:4, 520553.
O'Dwyer, C. (2006) Runaway State Building: Patronage Politics and Democratic Government. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Olson, D. M. and Crowther, W. (2002) Committees in Post-Communist Democratic Parliaments: Comparative Institutionalization. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press.
Olson, D.M. and Norton, P. (eds.) (1996) The New Parliaments of Central and Eastern Europe, special Issue of Journal of Legislative Studies.
Olson, D.M. and Norton, P. (eds.) (2007) Post-Communist and Post-Soviet Legislatures: Beyond Transition, Special Issue of Journal of Legislative Studies.
Olson, D. M., Van Der Meer-Krok-Paszkowska, A.Simon, M. D. and Jackiewicz, I. (1998) ‘Committees in the Post-Communist Polish Sejm: Structure, Activity and Members’, Journal of Legislative Studies, 4:1, 101121.
Olsen, J. P. (2009) ‘Change and Continuity: An Institutional Approach to Institutions of Democratic Government’, European Political Science Review, 1 (2), pp. 332.
Orenstein, M., Bloom, S. and Lindstrom, N. (eds.) (2008) Transnational Actors in Central and Eastern European Transitions. Pittsburg, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Ostrom, E. (2005) Understanding Institutional Diversity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Pettai, V. and Madise, U. (2006) ‘The Baltic Parliaments: Legislative Performance from Independence to EU Accession’. Journal of Legislative Studies 12(3): 291310.
Pierson, P. (2004) Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Piana, D. (2009) ‘The Power Knocks at the Courts’ Back Door: Two Waves of Postcommunist Judicial Reforms’. Comparative Political Studies 42(6): 816840.
Przeworski, A. (1991) Democracy and the Market: Political and Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Przeworski, A. (2004) ‘Institutions Matter?’ Government and Opposition, 39(4): 527540.
Remington, T. F. (ed.) (1994) Parliaments in Transition. Boulder, CO: Westview.
Roller, E. (2005) The Performance of Democracies. Political Institutions and Public Policy. Oxford: OUP.
Rose, R. (2008) ‘Evaluating Democratic Governance: A Bottom-up Approach to European Union Enlargement’, Democratization, 15:2, 251271.
Rose, R. (2009) Understanding Post-Communist Transformation. London: Routledge.
Rose-Ackerman, S. (2005) From Elections to Democracy: Building Accountable Government in Hungary and Poland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rothstein, B. (1996) ‘Political Institutions: An Overview’. In Goodin, R.E. and Klingemann, H-D. (eds.) A New Handbook of Political Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Rueschemeyer, M. and Wolchik, S. L. (eds.) (2009) Women in Power in Post-Communist Parliaments (Washington, D. C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press).
Sabaliunas, L. (1996) ‘Comparative Perspectives on Judicial Review in Lithuania’ Europe-Asia Studies, 48, 783795.
Sadurski, W. (2005) Rights Before Courts: A Study of Constitutional Courts in Postcommunist States of Central and Eastern Europe. Dortrecht: Springer.
Sadurski, W., Czamota, A. and Krygier, M. (eds.) (2006) Spreading Democracy and the Rule of Law: The Impact of EU Enlargement on the Rule of Law, Democracy and Constitutionalism in Post-Communist Legal Orders. Dortrecht: Springer.
Schiemann, J. W. (2004) ‘Hungary: The Emergence of Chancellor Democracy’, Journal of Legislative Studies, 10:2/3, 128141.
Schimmelfennig, F. and Sedelmeier, U. (eds.) (2002). The Europeanization of Central and Eastern Europe. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Schmitter, P. C. and Santiso, J. (1998) ‘Three Temporal Dimensions to the Consolidation of Democracy’, International Political Science Review, 19:1, 6992.
Schwartz, H. (1999) ‘Surprising Success: The New Eastern European Constitutional Courts’, in Schedler, A., Diamond, L., Plattner, M.F. (1999) The Self-restraining State: Power and Accountability in New Democracies. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Schwartz, H. (2000) The Struggle for Constitutional Justice in Postcommunist Europe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Shepsle, K. A. (2006) ‘Rational Choice Institutionalism’, in Rhodes, R. A. W., Binder, S.A., and Rockman, B.A. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Political Institutions. Oxford: OUP.
Shvetsova, O. (2003) ‘Endogenous Selection of Institutions and their Exogenous Effects’, Constitutional Political Economy, 14, 191212.
Smith, B. C. (2008) ‘Models of Judicial Administration and the Independence of the Judiciary: A Comparison of Romanian Self-management and the Czech Executive Model’, Public Administration and Development, 28, 8593.
Smithey, I. S. and Ishiyama, J. (2000) ‘Judicious Choices: Designing Courts in Post-communist politics’, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 33, 163182.
Smithey, I. S. and Ishiyama, J. (2002) ‘Judicial Activism in Post-communist Politics’, Law and Society Review, 36, 719741.
Staniszkis, J. and Kisiel, C. A. (1991) The Dynamics of the Breakthrough in Eastern Europe: The Polish Experience. University of California Press.
Staroňová, K. (2010) ‘Impact Assessment and Regulatory Quality in Central and Eastern Europe: Formal Institutionalization and Practice’, Journal of Public Policy, 30, 1.
Steinmo, S., Thelen, K. and Longstreth, F. (1992) Structuring Politics: Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Taras, R. (ed.) (1997) Postcommunist Presidents. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Toshkov, D. (2007) ‘Transposition of EU Social Policy in the New Member States’, Journal of European Social Policy, 17, 335.
Toshkov, D. (2008) ‘Embracing European Law Compliance with EU Directives in Central and Eastern Europe’, European Union Politics, 9:3, 379402.
Tsebelis, G. (2002) Veto Players: How Political Institutions Work. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Vachudova, M. A. (2005) Europe Undivided: Democracy, Leverage, and Integration After Communism. Oxford: OUP.
Van Der Meer Krok Paszkowska, A. (2000) Shaping the Democratic Order: The Institutionalisation of Parliament in Poland. Leuven: Garant.
Verheijen, T. (ed.) (1999) Civil Service Systems in Central and Eastern Europe. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Verheijen, T. (2006) EU-8. Administrative Capacity in the New Member States: The Limits of Innovation. Washington DC: World Bank, Report No 36930-GLB.
Weaver, R. K. and Rockman, B. A. (eds.) (1993) Do Institutions Matter? Government Capabilities in the US and Abroad. Washington: The Brookings Institution.
Wiesenthal, H. (2001) ‘Einleitung: Systemtransformation als Theorientest’, in idem, (ed.) Gelegenheit und Entscheidung. Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag, pp. 931.
Zubek, R. (2001) ‘A Core in Check: The Transformation of the Core Executive in Poland’, Journal of European Public Policy, 8:6, 911932.
Zubek, R. (2005) ‘Complying with Transposition Commitments in Poland: Collective Dilemmas, Core Executive and Legislative Outcomes’, West European Politics, 28, 592619.
Zubek, R. (2006) ‘Poland: A Core Ascendant?’, in Dimitrov, V. T. et al. , Governing after Communism: Institutions and Policy-making. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 83128.
Zubek, R. (2008a) Core Executive and Europeanization in Central Europe, Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Zubek, R. (2008b) ‘Parties, Rules and Government Legislative Control in Central Europe: The Case of Poland’, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 41: 2, 147161.
Zubek, R. and Stecker, C. (2010) ‘Legislatures and Policy Uncertainty: Evidence from East Central Europe’, Journal of Public Policy, 30, 1.
Zybertowicz, A. and Los, M. A. (2000) Privatizing the Police-State: The Case of Poland. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Public Policy
  • ISSN: 0143-814X
  • EISSN: 1469-7815
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-public-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed