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Party System Formation and Coalition Buiding Patterns in Romania
Posted by admin on November 19, 2010

Corneliu Bjola The quality of its mechanism of political representation constitutes a critical indicator for the well-being of any democratic system. Drawing on two alternatives models of social differentiation, cleavage formation, party identification and political competition, this article examines the changes that have occurred within the Romanian political landscape, in the last decade, with regard to the structures, patterns, and dimensions of party competition. In addition, the emerging patterns of coalition formation resulting from the 1996 and 2000 Romanian general elections are explored on the basis of several formal theories of coalition building, including policy-blind and policy-oriented, as well as non-spatial and “cabinet equilibrium” theories. Factor analysis and cross -tabulation of the 1996 and 2000 Public Opinion Barometers provide empirical support for the first objective, while the Winset software package fulfils the same function for the second.

Introduction[1]
Ten years after the breakdown of the communist system, the process of democratic consolidation in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) remains an ongoing task,[2] save for a few noticeable exceptions such as Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Poland. Besides well-known economic and political legacies,[3] the quality of the democratic process experienced by the countries from the region has been critically determined by the evolving patterns of political representation, which in general lines have been characterized by five tendencies: electoral and party fragmentation, high levels of volatility and protest voting, return of the “post -Communist” vote and parties, growing electoral abstention, and declining confidence in parliaments and political parties.[4]When compared with their West European counterparts, the emerging CEE party systems pose even more striking differences in terms of their degree of social differentiation, as well as the context and patterns of party competition. With regard to this last set of issues, the academic debate is basically divided along two alternative lines. The first one argues that the legal-institutional uncertainty, adversarial pattern of political competition, volatile civil society, as well as the lack of structural cleavages, party programs, and stable party structures contribute little, at least in the short term, to the formation of stable and politically efficient multiparty systems in the CEE countries.[5] The other side contends that the social and institutional legacy of the communist regime accounts largely for the evolving patterns of social differentiation, cleavage formation, party identification and political competition.[6] Building on the Lipset-Rokkan two-stage model of political cleavage formation, the supporters of this “sequential -legacy” alternative

several formal theories of coalition building. with a few exceptions. dimensions and patterns of competition. Using as a reference point Kitschelt‟s analysis of the 1990 CEE “founding elections. and will map accordingly the corresponding mean positions of political parties. At the macro-level.” [8] the paper will examine the changes that have occurred within the Romanian political landscape. three main variables – political parties. and the Industrial revolutions. the formation of the modern Western party system was considered to be the result of three „critical junctures”: the Reformation.[17] The “freezing” hypothesis has been contested on various grounds. the National. patterns. rational bargaining.e. and dimensions of party competition. structural cleavage theories have enjoyed the lion‟s share of academic attention. the cleavage structures of the 1920s formed after the extension of the universal suffrage. On the other hand. including policy-blind and policy-oriented. electoral laws). The paper will be structured as follows: the first part will provide a theoretical background on party system formation and coalition building theories. while the Winset software package[13] will be set up to examine the evolving patterns of coalition formation. the main variables have been “deconstructed” along several dimensions: structural cleavages. most importantly for not being able to distinguish .[15] Hence. Both the “sequential -legacy” and the “instability” arguments will be therefore challenged on the basis of theories of party system formation and competition. together with two additional categories – international context and political isomorphism – have been considered to account primarily for the formation of party systems. In a pioneering study.. the third section will apply formal theories for exploring the new patterns of coalition building in Romania. Theories of Party Competition and Coalition Formation Structural Cleavages and Party Systems The general theoretical view on party system formation encompasses two levels. the authors concluded the Western European party systems of the 1960s reflected.consider the material and cognitive orientations acquired and handed down by civic actors to subsequent generations to shape decisively all patterns of political mobilization.[7] The aim of this paper is to moderate the current debate from an empirical point of view. the second section will identify empirically the main structural cleavages and competition dimensions.[14] At the micro-level. For the methodological part. institutional provisions (i.[16]Moreover. Lipset and Rokkan proposed a model of translation of structural cleavages into party politics based on a twodimensional space defined by territory and ideology. For several good reasons. institutions and the electorate.[9] as well as non-spatial[10] and “cabinet equilibrium” theories[11] will be tested against the new Romanian patterns of coalition formation resulting from the 1996 and 2000 general elections. the paper will rely on two components: factor analysis and a cross-tabulation of the 1996 and 2000 Public Opinion Barometers (POB)[12] will be used for discerning the dimensions of political competition and the corresponding mean positions of political parties. in the last decade. and the construction of the new decisionmaking procedures. with regard to the structures.

[23] The winning coalitions can be predicted. while BP concentrates on the smallest number of actors.[20] On the other hand. and the pattern of distribution of resources and capabilities (interventionism vs.[18] More recently.[22] Consequently. libertarian). MWC1 assumes winning coalitions to preserve only those members whose presence is absolutely necessary for having not a technical but a working majority. while the other trying to establish a wholly different one in order to become more competitive. Accordingly. the second model suggests an adversarial structure of competition.[21] These two perspectives entail different hypotheses with regard to the structure of the political space. the process of coalition bargaining represents merely a zero-sum game with a fixed prize in terms of cabinet portfolios. the position and influence of various factions should be also acknowledged. Policy-blind theories consider political parties to be primarily driven by office-seeking motivations.[24] on the basis of three methods: theminimal winning (MWC1). the type of collective decision-making (authoritarian vs. the “freezing” hypothesis may actually refer not to the party alignments but to the structure of political competition. Herbert Kitschelt advanced a new model of cleavage and party system formation in CEE. that political parties are not unitary actors and accordingly. Government Coalition Theories The two analytical perspectives on structural cleavage and party system formation have also inspired several government coalition theories. and thirdly. By problematizing the relation between social and political cleavages. inclusive-cosmopolitan). based on voters‟ position within the social structure. the assumption that structural cleavages are automatically translated into politics has been reformulated in more flexible terms. MWC2 considers not the number of actors but that of parliamentary seats to be the critical criteria. structured by preference-shaping parties.[19] The new model proposed three dimensions for structuring party alternatives: the definition of citizenship (exclusive-nationalist vs.[25] Besides its relatively unsatisfactory power of prediction. with unstable blocks. that parties are not indifferent to matters that put their political credibility at risk. their ideological outlook and their predisposition to get involved in political action. it describes a political space characterized by a consensual or consociational structure of competition. with one side preferring to maintain a specific dimension of competition. that parties do not always have a clear and hierarchical order of preferences. minimum winning coalition (MWC2) and the bargaining proposition (BP). Policy-oriented theories are more sensitive to these problems and argue that the sheer logic of elections force political parties to be not only office but also policy motivated and to seek policy compatibility when entering into .between the space of voter identification and the space of party competition. All of them share the idea that coalitions shed surplus members but differ with regard to the selection criteria. which compete into a multidimensional space. dominated by preference-accommodating parties which compete primarily on the traditional left-right dimension. policy-blind theories are open to critique on several other grounds: first. with stable blocks or coalitions. apparently with a moderate margin of success. The first model considers parties‟ and voters‟ positions to be roughly the same and hence. free-market). as well as for not paying enough attention to the substantive changes and realignments taking place at the level of structural cleavages. secondly.

all significant pro-system parties will join the government. the minimal connected winning strategy (MCW) predicts the formation of “ideologically connected” coalitions. DDM is an equilibrium cabinet only if it has an empty winset. party competition and government coalition bargaining. The model assumes the following: first.[31] Having briefly presented the main theoretical views on structural cleavage formation. the largest party forms a single/minority government or enters into a minimal winning coalition with other pro-system parties. Non-spatial theories are more general in scope and try to avoid the multidimensional trap affecting both policy-blind and policy-oriented theories. Thus. Structural Cleavages and Political Divides in Romania In light of the Lipset-Rokkan and Kitschelt theories. The integrated theory of democratic party government proposes the following set of hierarchical rules for government formation: first. the “sequential-legacy” and “instability” models mentioned at the beginning of this article color two different sets of hypotheses. parties that contribute nothing to the legislative majority but have a policy position between that of the two other coalition members. It concludes that equilibrium cabinets are more likely to include a strong party that is. thirdly. the bargaining process preceding the formation of the government is both office and policy motivated. in case of no salient left-right dimension.[26] In comparison with policy-blind theories. in case of no regime threat. which means that all members of the coalition are ideologically adjacent to each other on the left-right dimension. secondly.[30] Based on this set of assumptions and using status quo as the starting point. or in other words. secondly. the Winset model initiates a searching process for alternative equilibrium cabinets that takes into account a theoretically unlimited number of dimensions of competition. there is a single party government or a majority coalition formed on the basis of the left/right ideological dimension. This move comes of course at a price represented by the diminished empirical value of the model. both in policy and portfolios terms. it introduces the minimum number of parliamentary seats as a supplementary constraint.coalitions. in case of an immediate threat to the democratic system. or when the competition takes place in a multidimensional space.[29] The multidimensional issue is better dealt with by the cabinet equilibrium (Winset) theory. and hence. the resulting coalition government is a dimension-by-dimension median cabinet (DDM) that is.[27] Surplus majority coalition strategy (SMC) discards “dummy” members namely. the article will proceed in the next section to examine the empirical value of these theories from a Romanian perspective. policy-oriented bargaining strategies include a left-right ideological dimension. one in which portfolios over each policy dimension are allocated to the parties with the median legislator on that dimension. if no political actor has the ability or the incentive to bring down the coalition government. a party that can veto all coalitions within its winset based on its median position. thirdly. The first one argues that the new Romanian party system has been to a large extent shaped by the social and institutional legacy of the communist regime and . policy-oriented theories do not properly account for situations when the internal dynamic of political parties becomes salient.[28] While more attuned to the political dynamics of the coalition bargaining process.

but volatile dimensions of competition and high political instability due to lack of institutional and political constraints on the parties. factor loadings.[32] In absence of clear data about the salience of the issues.825 Extraction Method: Principal Axis Factoring (3 factors). Factors* . such as the KMP measure of homogeneity of variables. it presents not only entrenched structural cleavages but also relatively constant competition lines and stable coalition patterns.[36] The 1996 General Elections The social cleavages present in the 1996 Romanian general elections are shown in Table 1. Varimax rotated.therefore. The second model claims that the emerging Romanian party system exposes no deep structural cleavages. the eigenvalue and the explained variance. the results presented in Table 1 include several important statistical indicators. the resulting political divides will be approximated as dimensions of political competition even though they might be only dimensions of political identification. which is usually recommended for explaining the maximum amount of variance in the data while yielding the minimum number of relevant factors.[35] Besides the retained factors and observed variables.[34] Hence. but also for the identification of the latent structures underlying public preferences. Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization. the October 1996 and November 2000 POB surveys will be applied to a principal axis factoring method (PAF). One way to sort out this dilemma is to assess the underlying preferences of the voters and to observe the corresponding clustering patterns around social divides. The general picture of the existing political divides can be then assembled by comparing the mean positions assumed on these social divides by the political parties. Rotation converged in 5 iterations. while the positions assumed by the political parties on these issue dimensions are compared in Table 2.[33] From an empirical point of view. the most appropriate statistical instrument for this type of operation is factor analysis. Table 1: Social divides in the Romanian electorate (1996): Varimax rotated matrix of issue opinions Number of Cases = 2019 Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy = 0. which allows not only for the reduction of the number of relevant variables.

82348 .61699 . A low paid but secured job is better than a high paid but unsecured one. the factors underlying the political preferences of the Romanian electorate confirmed Kitschelt‟s analysis of the 1990 CEE “founding elections. NATO membership is useful for Romania. Hence. the main lines of political cleavage did not follow exactly the same patterns. Willingness to get a second job. the Parliament must not be criticized.56463 .66216 . The state is entitled to intervene in the activity of the press. civic tolerance III. .57499 .4 16. Collectivism vs. the authoritarian – libertarian and interventionist – free market dimensions.6 26 2.2 33.79271 . Market economy is a good thing. while the authoritarian – libertarian political cleavage lost steam in favor of the economic distribution axis. Only those who take risks can win.34 9. EU membership is useful for Romania.83321 .63562 Eigenvalue Explained variance % Cumulative % 5.77891 .50 are displayed. after running on different tracks in 1990.4 3.53 7. Liberalism Once elected.74537 . The state is entitled to intervene in the activity of political parties.55265 .2 * Note: Only factors greater that . Corruption Police is corrupted Justice is corrupted Local administration is corrupted The school system is corrupted Labor market institutions are corrupted The health system is corrupted . Finally. Six years after the demise of the communist regime.56678 . the corruption .73 16.70302 . The well being of everyone depends on the state.73792 . People should follow customs as guidance in life. clustered in 1996 into the same factor: liberalism vs. One party system is a good thing.51251 II.56746 .59656 .” [37] However.80318 Distrust of ethnic Hungarians Distrust of Rroma Distrust of Jews Distrust of ethnic Germans .I.61772 . The nationalist dimension separated from the mainstream collectivist-liberal axis. collectivism.52610 . Nationalism vs.53809 .55076 .

as well as the distance between the extreme parties had large values.77 1.factor.61 2.25 Corruption Mean 0. the subsequent fragmentation of the political space (i.02 -4.75 -2. As shown in Table 2.13 0. measured by the standard deviation of the mean factor scores.83 2.62 3 SD 1.62 -3.42 8.29 1.12 1. ApR.32 0. the .87 SD 0.5 -2. Hence.32 0. the structure of the political competition exposed serious signs of instability.87 -3. Both indicators suggest an unevenly fragmented political spectrum shaped by political alignments that were not sharply defined along clear programmatic options. while party alignments remained open to further fragmentation.e. The “spread” among parties.41 0. UFD.72 0..37 Note: a) SD of mean factors scores. all political parties were fairly sensitive to the three dimensions. ANCD) came at no surprise. Table 2: Positions of political parties on issue dimensions in the 1996 general elections[38] Liberalism vs. nationalism Mean 2.87 SD 2.62 2.38 0.16 0.49 3.24 Civic tolerance vs. However. structural cleavages were competed on different and highly volatile dimensions.62 2. On the other hand.45 -4.70 1.8 2. especially on the first and second factor. The results validate partially both the “sequential -legacy” and the “instability” argument.30 2.25 -2.15 6. especially in the context of the 1996 general elections. and sent an important but unfortunately not wellacknowledged signal concerning one of the main polluting sources hindering the Romanian democratization process. The 1996 configuration o f the Romanian political space reproduced in general lines the structural cleavages of the 1990 founding elections and reinforced a stable but adversarial two-block structure of party competition.12 2.75 1.61 7. represented another important dimension of party competition.41 Spread of partiesa Average SD Distance between extreme parties 3.87 -1.29 2. accounting for about 7 percent of the explained variance.87 0. Collectivism Mean CDR UDMR USD PDSR PUNR PRM 3.75 1 -2.06 2. and structured by competition dimensions that did not fully capture the underlying structural cleavages.87 -3. On the other hand.

hinted to the evolving adversarial. two-block pattern of competition. Fig 1 provides an illustration of the structure of the 1996 political space along the first two dimensions of competition.position coefficients of the political parties. but the dimensions of political competition as well as the structure of the party alignments changed again.[39] Fig. Table 3: Social divides in the Romanian electorate (2000): Varimax rotated matrix of issue opinions: Number of Cases = 1775 . mediated by a weak center. 1 Structure of party competition (1996) Liberalism (+5) Collectivism (-5) Nationalism (-5) Civic tolerance (+5) UDMR CDR USD PDSR PUNR PRM The 2000 General Elections Kitschelt‟s model of CEE structural cleavages remained basically in place in the 2000 Romanian general elections. clustering around distinctly positive and negative values.

state authoritarianism Lack of confidence in public authorities and institutions: Government Parliament Presidency Justice Political parties Police Trade unions Local administration Banking system . Factors* Alienation vs.491 .710 .693 . NATO membership is useful for Romania. The state should intervene in the activity of political parties.526 0.746 . . Liberalism Social intolerance General values: EU membership is useful for Romania. The state should intervene in the activity of the press.491 .620 .536 0. Only those who take risk can win.724 .665 .814 Extraction Method: Principal Axis Factoring (3 factors).642 .Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy = 0.653 0. Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization. One party system is a good thing.433 .530 0.621 .558 .583 0. People should follow customs as guidance in life. Market economy is a good thing.650 .418 People not wanted as neighbors: HIV infected Ex-convicts Homosexuals Alcoholics Rroma Jews Hungarians 0.475 .586 .607 0.471 Collectivism vs. Rotation converged in 5 iterations.693 .

the collectivist-liberal cleavage lost significant ground in favor of a state authoritarian dimension.01 0.633 20.29 -1.23 0.49 SD 2.16 32.86 3.22 1.48 -3. stable and adversarial two -block structure of party competition.94 0.93 3. The political instability bred by sterile and politically costly disputes between the various members of the previous governmental coalition[40] stimulated a strong demand for political coherence and for reinforcing the authority of the state. Interestingly. Table 4 displays the positions of political parties on the three dimensions.7 2.48 1.767 10.9 -0.34 0.28 * Note: Only factors greater that .34 1. multi-dimensional and volatile political space.71 2. Collectivism Social intolerance Mean PDSR PRM PD PNL UDMR CDR 2000 ApR 3.76 1.89 0.42 0. despite general expectations to have them both integrated into a nationalist – cosmopolitan dimension or to have generated a new pro – skeptic European integration axis.52 3.31 0.62 0.54 0.4 SD 2.51 2.24 42.14 1.48 4. views on EU and NATO membership scored very high on this factor in both 1996 and 2000 elections.81 1.Eigenvalue Explained variance % Cumulative % 5.42 0.23 -2. fragmented and fluid space of party alignments and increasingly active preference-shaping parties.43 Mean -2.21 SD 0.52 Mean 1.09 -1.93 1.54 2.08 -1.02 -3.03 2.12 2. Turning back to the “sequential-legacy” and the “instability” theses.46 2. the results of the 2000 elections followed the same middle-road pattern from 1996: “frozen” structural cleavages.09 . the nationalist dimension was replaced with a more general but nevertheless highly disturbing social intolerance factor that accounted for more than 10 percent of the explained variance. The collectivist-liberal cleavage has remained yet again an important dimension of political competition with the economic distribution axis gradually taking precedence over the political components.015 11. Table 4: Positions of political parties on issue dimensions in the 2000 general elections[41] State authoritarianism Liberalism vs.12 0. In the context of a growing feeling of political alienation and widespread distrust of public authorities and institutions. Finally.06 1.86 20.35 -4.40 are displayed. This observation simply confirms the negative effects on the general public produced by the demagogic and uninformed postures of political parties and mass media on the subject of European integration.

as well as the troubled past of PDSR. 2 Structure of party competition (2000) State authoritarianism (+5) Collectivism (-5) Liberalism (+5) UDMR PD PDSR PRM . Hence. the lack of serious political constraints. following the November 2000 elections. Given the absence of a functional checksand-balances institutional system. except for the last factor. while PD will probably try to gain credits from challenging both poles.81 1.07 8. This suggests a slow tendency toward political homogenization.60 2.52 2. caution is strongly recommended.03 Note: a) SD of mean factors scores. this assumption cannot be positively warranted and hence. These conclusions are based on the assumption that the democratic character of the political system will not be challenged by the monopolistic position held currently by PDSR within the political space.[42] Fig.97 6. the harsh intra-block competition between PDSR and PRM.04 7. ApR and PNTCD (as successor of CDR 2000) are expected to strengthen their political connections with PNL. the “spread” among parties as well as the distance between the extreme parties on the three dimensions are both slightly lower. Fig 2 provides an illustration of the structure of the political space along the first two dimensions of competition.86 1. but only within the same political blocks since the center of the political spectrum remains largely empty.Spread of partiesa Average SD Distance between extreme parties 2.55 0. Compared with the 1996 elections.

[44] a minority government was formed by PDSR controlling only 155 seats out of 345 in the Chamber of Deputies and 65 seats out of 140 in the Senate but relying on the parliamentary support of PRM and UDMR. which together controlled an absolute majority of seats.[45] Table 5: Winning coalitions in the Romanian elections 1996 Chamber of Deputies 2000 Senate Minimal Winning (MWC1) CDR+ UDMR+USD (200) CDR+ USD (175) CDR+ PDSR – Grand Coalition (213) PRM+PUNR+PDSR+USD (181) CDR+PRM+PUNR+UDMR (184) CDR+PRM+PUNR+USD (211) PDSR+PRM (102) PDSR+PD (78) PDSR+PNL (78) PDSR+UDMR (77) PRM+PD+PNL+UDMR (75) PDSR+PRM+UDMR (114)[46] PDSR+PRM+UDMR+PNL (127) Minimum Winning . By using as case study the political configuration of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate from 1996 and respectively 2000. Table 5 presents the wining coalitions predicted by policy-blind (MWC1.[43] the new government was formed by a coalition composed of CDR. After the November 2000 elections. UDMR and USD. MWC2 and BA) and policy-oriented (MCW. 200 out of 343.PNL ApR CDR 2000 Political instability (-5) Patterns of Coalition Building in Romania Following the results of the 1996 general elections. SMC) theories. in the Chamber of Deputies.

Applied to the 1996 three-dimensional space defined by liberal-collectivism. . this theory gives sure a CDR. USD coalition in 1996. The Winset-cabinet equilibrium model tries to circumvent this pitfall by addressing simultaneously several axes of competition. the equilibrium model allowed for something more. with an empty winset on all dimensions and CDR-USD was the most likely winning coalition. the Winset model reached basically the same conclusions like the previous theories. The results are cautiously encouraging. Moreover. UDMR‟s status of “dummy party”. liberalism vs. and 14 and respectively 0% in 2000. The bargaining proposition as well as the minimum winning and surplus majority coalition theories enjoy the least empirical support.[47] After investigating the distribution of party positions on the three dimensions shaping the 2000 electoral context – state authoritarianism. the model indicated clearly the second likely coalition to emerge was one that included CDR. and social intolerance -. The non-spatial theory does not perform much better either. USD and UDMR. To be fair. Since this was not the case. in the sense that its specific policy position and external image input overtakes its contribution in terms of parliamentary seats. under conditions of regime threat (PRM) in 2000. the non-spatial theory excludes PRM from any majority combination. and PDSR-PD as the next likely. civic tolerance and corruption. The rate of success is 15% for the minimal wining coalition theory and around 30% for the minimal connected winning theory in 1996. namely that USD was a strong party. only slightly better than by picking the winning coalition out of a hat.(MWC2) Bargaining Proposition (BP) CDR+USD (175) PRM+PD+PNL+UDMR (75) PDSR+UDMR (77) CDR+USD (175) CDR+ PDSR – Grand Coalition (213) PDSR+UDMR (77) Minimal Connected (MCW) CDR+USD (175) CDR+ UDMR+USD (200) PRM+PUNR+PDSR+USD (181) Surplus majority (SMC) CDR+USD (175) PDSR+PD (78) PDSR+PRM (102) PDSR+PD (78) The results are strikingly modest. the Winset model predicted a PSDR-PRM coalition as the first choice. accounts primarily for the failure of all coalition building theories to explain its participation in all coalitions since 1996. By calculating the number of winpoints preferred by parties to any given coalition. Under conditions of no regime threat and dominant left-right axis of competition. the suspicion goes then against to what most of these theories have in common. namely the assumption of a single dimension of competition. collectivism.

and dimensions of party competition seems to follow. the Winset model seems to outperform all the others. to examine from a Romani an perspective. Second. multidimensional and volatile political space..e. especially in the East Central European context. stable and adversarial two -block structure of party competition. “The End of the Beginning: The Partial Consolidation of East Central European Party Systems. sociological institutionali sm. 1977). the Winset model of “cabinet equilibrium” came the closest to explaining the new Romanian patterns of coalition building.” in Pennings. 1998). From a “sequential-legacy” perspective. a middle-road configuration characterized by: “frozen” structural cleavages. Archie. Attila. Factor analysis and cross -tabulation of the 1996 and 2000 public opinion surveys partially validated both theses. “symbolic politics”) may add value to our understanding of the process of formation of the new party systems in CEE. and Lane. volatile dimensions of political competition and hectic political behavior make East European politics less amenable to the prescriptions of general theories developed for the West European context. From an “instability” viewpoint. and far behind by all the rest. Brown. A more general conclusion of this study is that rational-choice theories present serious limits and accordingly. Certain versions of policy-blind and policy-oriented theories proved also instrumental. volatile dimensio ns of political competition. Better adapted to working into a multi-dimensional environment. fragmented and fluid space of party alignments and increasingly active preference-shaping parties. P. Comparing Party System Change (London: Routledge. the quasi-stability of structural cleavages and patterns of party competition recommend formal theories as an useful analytical instrument for making sense of the evolving models of coalition building. as well as non-spatial and “cabinet equilibrium” theories. weak political alignments. followed by the minimal wining (MWC1) and minimal connected winning theory (MCW). This observation points to the strengths and weaknesses of applying formal theories to multi-party politics. However. . Conclusions The goal of this article was twofold: first. including policy-blind and policy-oriented. J. patterns. Political Culture and Political Change in Communist States (London: Macmillan. tested on the basis of theories of party system formation and competition. Bibliography Agh.Under these circumstances. weak political alignments. at least in the Romanian case.. The evolution of the structures. the application of formal theories to explaining the process of coalition formation in Romania yielded modest results. other approaches that problematize the motivations of the actors in normative of even symbolic terms (i. the validity of the “sequentiallegacy” and “instability” models. On the other hand. and hectic political behavior make East European politics less amenable to the prescriptions of general theories elaborated in Western context. to explore the recent patterns of coalition building in Romania by using several formal theories.

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and the three anonymous reviewers of RJSP. Laver and K.”Theory and Society 20. Schofield. Z. [9] M. [14] Gordon Smith. [4] Attila Agh. Kitschelt.osf. Archie. “Political Transition Processes in Central and Eastern Europe. 1990). Bucharest.” Politics and Society. J. “The Formation of Party Systems in East Central Europe. 1996). A.Welsh. no. Helga.” 38 -40. Shin. Doh Chull. P. “On the Third Wave of Democratization. 349-363. “The End of the Beginning: The Partial Consolidation of East Central European Party Systems. Shepsle. Party System Change: Approaches and Interpretations (Oxford: Clarendon Press.” Comparative Politics (July 1994): 379394. Welsh. 1992). 61-78. Chapter on “What Is Different about Post-Communist Party Systems. [5] Peter Mair. 1:3 (1989). [12] The 2000 and 1996 POB are part of a research program carried out by the Foundation for an Open Society.” 175-198.. 1-13 and 89-143. “Democratic Consolidation in Post-Transitional Settings” inIssues in Democratic Consolidation (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. 20: 1 (1992): 750. Ghia. Parties and Democracy: Coalition Formation and Government Functioning in Twenty States (Oxford: Oxford University Press. “A Systems Perspective on Party System Change”. 90-119. Gábor Tóka. Samuel. 32-62. 202. Chapters 4 and 5. 13-14. and Inter-Party Cooperation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. “Ethnic Conflicts in the Context of Democratizing Political Systems. 1977). Shepsle‟s form al theory of government equilibrium. “The Formation of Party Systems in East Central Europe. [7] Herbert Kitschelt. [1] For competent comments and useful suggestions I am grateful to Lucian Branea. [2] For a well-argued introduction to the democratic consolidation literature see: Valenzuela. 1997). J. 1998). Comparing Party System Change (London: Routledge. Multiparty Government: The Politics of Coalition in Europe(Oxford: Oxford University Press. Representation. (October 1994): 134-170. Markowski. details available at www. [3] More details on the “legacy problem” can be found in: Nodia. Journal of Theoretical Politics. Algis. Political Culture and Political Change in Communist States (London: Macmillan. (1991): 581-602. “Political Transition Processes in Central and Eastern Europe. [11] Michael Laver and Kenneth A. Brown.ro [13] The Winset program represents the computer version of M. . Prazauskas. Mansfeldova. R. and Lane. 4 (October 1996): 15-28. Making and Breaking Governments: Cabinets and Legislatures in Parliamentary Democracies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1999).” Comparative Politics (July 1994): 379-394.” Journal of Democracy 7. [6] Herbert Kitschelt. 1990). Laver and N.” in Pennings. [10] Ian Budge and Hans Keman.” World Politics 47. Adrian Prioteasa. Helga. “How Different are Post Communist Transitions?. Post-Communist Party Systems: Competition. Chapters 1 and 5. [8] H.

A. [23] For an excellent overview of various approaches to policy-blind and policy-oriented theories see M. [21] P. 11. Laver and N.. “The Formation of Party Systems in East Central Europe.. Laver and K. [18] H... The Theory of Political Conditions (New Haven: Yale University Press. 1957) and W. [35] Ibid. 95-96 [16] Ibid. [36] The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure of homogeneity (0.. 44. [17] Ibid. and Voter Alignments. 91-103. 107. Kitschelt. [19] Ibid. [22] For more details. Party Systems. (London: Sage Publications Ltd.70 minimum level of statistical significance) is used for assessing the appropriateness of PAF as a statistical method for the respective set of data. Ibid. Schofield.. [29] I.. [34] Jacques Tacq.. 98. Laver and N. the explained variance indicates the % of .” 11. 14. [32] H. Lipset and Stein Rokkan. 96.. Party System Change: Approaches and Interpretation. [28] Ibid.[15] Seymour M. the Eigenvalue approximates the degree to which an underlying factor maps the variance of the values of the observed variables.. Shepsle. 1996).40 or 0.. [30] M. Riker. “Cleavage Structures. 92-95. [24] The success rate ranges between 33 and 40%. [20] Ibid. 97.) The West European Party System (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 73. 134. 101.” in P. factor or pattern loadings indicate how much of the value of the measured variables correspond to the underlying factors (strong correlations fall within the -1 ÷ – 0. with MWC1 outperforming the others and MWC2 producing the least satisfactory results. Mair. Applied Multivariate Techniques. Budge and H. An Economic Theory of Democracy (New York: Harper and Row.40 ÷ 1 range). [27] Ibid. Schofield. 124. see Anthony Downs. [33] Ibid. [25] Ibid. 1962). 97. [26] M. (New York: Wiley and Sons. Keman. 1989). 61-66.. Multivariate Analysis Techniques in Social Science Research: From Problem to Analysis. 266-317. and Subhash Sharma. 12-14. 128. 265. Mair (ed. 1997). Kitschelt et al. [31] Ibid.

29%). and civic tolerance). 116. intransigence to corruption. The proportion of combinations matching the “real” case gives the “rate of success” of each theory. Space constraints and the difficulty of representing graphically a three-dimensional structure of competition proved decisive in selecting only the two factors with the highest PAF score for illustrating the arguments presented above.45%).election. PRM – The Great Romania Party. The other two combinations available.ro. USD 53 (15. for details see J. PRM 37 (26.29%). Party acronyms stand for: CDR 2000 – the Romanian Democratic Convention 2000. political authoritarianism. Kitschelt. are equally legitimate. [37] H. party acronyms stand for: CDR – the Romanian Democratic Convention. liberal democracy.variance in the observed variables captured by the underlying factors. Minoritati 15 (4.53%). PDSR – the Social Democracy Party of Romania. ApR –The Alliance for Romania. “The Formation of Party Systems in East Central Europe. Tacque. [43] Mandates and percentage of the total vote for the Chamber of Deputies: CDR 122 (35. PUNR – the Romanian National Unity Party.37%). UMDR – the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania. PRM.The Democrat Party. For the purposes of this article. [38] The most recommended method used as a proxy for approximating party positions when survey data of party elites is not available is the expert opinion poll. [44] Mandates and percentage of the total vote for the Senate: PDSR 65 (46. UDMR 25 (7. PD.57%). The precise parliamentary coalitions resulting from the 1996 and 2000 general elections are written in bold. UDMR 12 (8.54%). PD 13 (9. eight Romanian professionals with relevant political expertise in the field were asked to evaluate the positions of the main political parties on a scale that ranged from – 5 (economic protectionism. UMDR – the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania. tolerance) has obviously an illustrative character.43%).29%). USD. corruption and tolerance vs. PUNR 18 (5.The Social Democratic Union. PDSR 91 (26. liberalism vs. [42] The explanation for using only the first two factors as background illustration for the structure of party competition is detailed in footnote 39.election. PDSR – the Social Democracy Party of Romania. corruption. for details see http://www.25%).The Great Romania Party. PRM 19 (5. . [41] The positions of the political parties were estimated through an expert opinion poll in a similar manner to that described in footnote 38.” 38 -40.43%). [40] Political instability led to the resignation of two Prime Ministers and to almost a dozen governmental reshuffles in less than three years.57%). 270 and S. tolerance of corruption and nationalism) to +5 (free market.ro. [45] Table 5 includes all possible coalition combinations as predicted by the five theories. for details see http://www. [39] The bi-dimensional representation of the structure of party competition along the first two factors (liberalism vs. Sharma. PNL – The National Liberal Party. PNL 13 (9.

USD. USD. the level of political support given by PRM to the government has been stronger and more constant than that enjoyed among the members of the 1996-2000 CDR-USD-UDMR government coalition.[46] Although neither PRM nor UDMR hold high-level cabinet positions in the current government. [47] The CDR. PUNR. Besides the official cooperation agreement between PDSR and UDMR. the PDSR-PRMUDMR coalition functions almost flawlessly at the parliamentary level. UDMR coalition generates only 4 winpoints. compared with 14 yielded by a PDSR. . PRM coalition or 26 in the case of a Grand Coalition (CDR+PDSR).