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Between Milieu and Vacuum
Between Milieu and Vacuum

Organizational, Programmatic, and Electoral Strategies of the Former Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM) Reexamined

Author(s): Seongcheol Kim
Subject(s): Politics / Political Sciences, Social Sciences
Published by: Mezinárodní politologický ústav Masarykovy univerzity v Brně
Keywords: Czech Republic; electoral politics; Germany; party system; post-communist successor parties

Summary/Abstract: This paper proposes an updated approach to explaining two outcomes unforeseen by the existing comparative literature on post-communist successor parties: 1) the electoral stabilization (and even growth) and 2) the divergent developments of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS; later DIE LINKE) in Germany and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM). The paper proceeds by integrating a critical reexamination of earlier studies’ organizational and programmatic explanations of electoral success with an analysis of the party-system level of government-opposition signaling and positioning vis-à-vis other parties, which can be expected to take on heightened importance in ‘third-generation elections.’ It is argued that both parties’ successes were tied to a strategic orientation toward going beyond their confinement in a delimited electoral ‘milieu’ and occupying a wider electoral ‘vacuum’ to the left of their Social Democratic competitors, albeit with early programmatic modernization and delayed organizational centralization in the PDS as opposed to a near-total continuity of programmatic non-reform and decentralized organization in the KSČM. The findings suggest that earlier studies specifically overlook the impact of subsequent (‘third-generation’) iterations of party competition on successor-party success as well as the mediation of organizational and programmatic factors by the party-system level.

  • Issue Year: XXIV/2017
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 302-329
  • Page Count: 27
  • Language: English