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Post-communism and the winner-loser divide among voters

A theoretical, methodological and empirical approach was used to examine the social and political divide that occurred in the first two decades of the post-communist era.
Post-communism and the winner-loser divide among voters
The idea of winners and losers has been common since the beginning of the post-communist transition. It was expected that the new inequalities that came about through adopting a market society would make social hierarchies more prominent. In turn, those who possessed the capital to embark on new opportunities would be at an advantage over those who did not. This winner/loser divide was predicted to create a basis of political divides in emerging party systems.

An EU-funded project WINLOSE (The Winner-Loser Divide?: A Comparative Analysis of Voting Behaviour and Cleavage Formation in Post-Communist Party Systems) focused on Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. It sought to pinpoint whether the winner-loser divide emerged in the first 25 years of transition and find the reasons it did or did not happen. The divide was examined according to the role of post-communist electorates as well as political entrepreneurs.

A comparative analysis of supply and demand of electoral politics in the four countries was conducted with the use of survey data on socio-demographics political attitudes and voting behaviour. On the demand-side, results showed that winner and loser groups were more likely to identify subjectively as winners and losers and with distinct ideological stances yet the differences were slight and did not change much over time. Economic and political issues were more important on the supply side. Voting behaviour was also examined with regard to the impact of social structure and political preferences though the impact of ideological values is less clear.

Results show that although voters were usually divided in significant ways regarding the winner-loser divide, there was a lack of consistency. This was due to lack of a clear stance on ideological orientation. Additionally, the varying rates of the divide were reflective in the voting behaviour.

A flux of the political parties hampers stabilisation with regarding to voting rates. More study is needed to determine electoral abstention and whether the failure of parties to provide a broad range of ideological options causes low and demographically imbalanced voter turnout.

The research is important in obtaining a better understanding of the impact of the European economic crisis has on the nature of party politics in the region.

Related information


Post-communist era, political divides, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, electoral politics, socio-demographics, voting behaviour
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