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1. Problem Outline

Communist regime, Budapest uprising 1956, Prague Spring 1968, Berlin Wall 1989, the
ensuing political and economic transformation, democratic consolidation and market
liberalization...These are just a few keywords associated with the Central and Eastern
European (CEE) region1 and its rather strenuous post-communist transformation process
towards young democratic states. Twenty years after these states have begun the
transformation with hope for the future, there are indications that this process might still be
ongoing - however not in terms of the classical and formal understanding of transformation.
The formal transformation has concluded, most recently with the accession to the European
Union (EU) in 2004,2 by completing the requirements of the Copenhagen Criteria.3 In the
Copenhagen European Council conclusions from 1993 with regards to CEE states, the
European Community assured its support vis-à-vis the impending reform. As the Council
noted, “peace and security in Europe depend on the success of those efforts.”4 What have
been the successes so far?

At an event entitled “20 Years Freedom. 1989-2009”5, the former Czech state president
Vaclav Havel in a conversation with the former German state president Richard von
Weizsäcker mentioned that although much had been achieved in the Czech Republic, the
process was advancing more slowly and was considerably more complicated than was thought
at the beginning of the transformation.6 Indeed, the hitherto existing outcomes of the
transformation in CEE point towards some rather puzzling questions regarding the degree of
political stability7 in the region, particularly since the accession to the EU in 2004. Oddly
enough, one would think that with the accession, political stability in CEE states would have
For a definition of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), please refer to the Appendix.
In 2004, the following states joined the EU: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland,
Slovakia and Slovenia.
These include political (institutions guaranteeing democracy, rule of law, human rights, protection of minorities), economic
(functioning market economy, capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union) and
acceptance of the Community acquis (ability to take on obligations of membership). See Accession Criteria (Copenhagen
criteria) in Europa Glossary.
Copenhagen European Council 1993:1.
Refer to the event on 1.10.2009, at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik e.V.: 1.10.2009.
Ibid., 1.10.2009.
For a working definition of “political stability”, please refer to Chapter I.

increased following their incorporation into EU economic and political structures. Yet in fact,
this alone does not promise the certainty of political stability. “ Even so, there are differences
even among the EU member states which show that membership is not the only criterion for
grouping states, and that within this group states face varying risks as well.”8 The variance in
some of the aspects of the outcomes of the post-communist transition in CEE states is rather

Much of the recent media (particularly in Europe) has been discussing the overall European
trend of disappointment in the non-social behavior of social-democrats, the high level of
populism within political discourse, and the rising support for radical right-wing organizations
and parties, as well as – encompassing all this – the crisis of democracy. There are grounds
for believing that these arguments are plausible, yet these tendencies alone do not point to
political instability within the countries of the region. This is particularly true as there is an
absence of remarkably strong and long-lasting violent events, coups d’état, armed conflicts
and revolutions – if political stability is to be defined in these terms9. Moreover, it would be
erroneous to interpret the concept of political stability under the indices above, as it would not
as such apply to countries analyzed here (considering these are democracies). This means that
the measurement of political stability is applied within parameters set by the context and
structures of a democratic political regime.

Thus, needless to say, armed conflict is not likely to break out in the CEE countries anytime
soon – the causes of political instability are rather latent in their source. One of the issues is
that there is a certain discontinuity in post-communist countries, “not only in the sphere of
politics, but also in economy and social structure.”10 This point is also mentioned later on with
regards to the criteria for political stability. Political stability of countries in the region is of
key relevance for a) their internal development and the government’s ability to fulfill duties
towards its citizens; b) the extent to which these countries can fulfill their regional and
international responsibilities and; c) the security and stability of the region and the EU. The
Czech Ambassador in Berlin (JUDr. Rudolf Jindrák) mentioned that the political instability in
the Czech Republic overshadowed the Czech EU Presidency at the beginning of 2009.11 This
comment illustrates the fact that a poor internal political situation can negatively affect
external responsibilities and relationships.
Lakner/Tóth-Czifra 2008:52.
For a definition of “political stability” and its criteria, please see Chapter I.
Markus 1998:1.
Refer to the event on 2.10.2009 at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Even though the states, once under the Soviet sphere of influence, have shared common
elements – for example, parts of their history, state ideology, centrally-planned economies, et
cetera – they each have distinctive characteristics which make a comparative case study fitting
for this paper. The region has been able to continuously draw attention and ignite interest. The
recent economic crisis has impacted the region enormously and has uncovered weak
democratic and structural features in some states of the states. Thus, this point makes aim of
the analysis rather interesting.

Subsequently, this study intends to focus on possible causes of the difference in the degree of
political stability between the countries analyzed here.

2.Political Operationalization

2.1. Object of Analysis (Variables and Hypotheses) and Timeframe

When considering political stability (dependent variable (DV)) , multiple factors could be
involved in the analysis, such as per capita growth, ethnic fractionalization, trade openness,
economic distress, and demographic homogeneity. However, none of these are considered
here as independent variables (IVs). This study aims to look at structural factors using the
systemic theory (approach by David Easton) as a framework. In addition, the theory of
relative deprivation is used when discussing IV2. Moreover, for practical reasons and taking
into account the scope of this study, the factors above are not to be discussed as conditional or
intervening variables either. Instead, the focus is on two central variables and the assumption
that these are capable of explaining the varying degree(s) of political in/stability in CEE. The
following IVs form the object of analysis:

IV 1: Responsiveness of Political Authorities

Hypothesis 1: A higher level of responsiveness of political authorities to inputs, demands and
stimuli affects political stability positively. The lower the degree of responsiveness of political
authorities, the higher the degree of political instability.

Theoretical framework: Systems Theory (Approach by David Easton)

IV 2: Social Imbalance
Hypothesis 2: Social cleavage and imbalances within a society, if not equalized to an extent,
can have a negative effect on political stability. The higher the degree of social imbalance,
the higher the degree of political instability.

Theoretical framework: Theory of Relative Deprivation

The above IVs should address the main question of why the degree of political stability in
some CEE EU-member states is higher/lower than in other CEE countries (also EU
members). This research assumes that political stability depends heavily on different
elements and interactions within a given political system12 and particularly on the capabilities
and degree of responsiveness of the political authorities13. Furthermore, it is vital to take into
account the context of the cases studied, including various (endogenous and exogenous)
stimuli14. It is important to consider that these stimuli do not directly influence political

In order to test the causal relationship between the DV and IVs, there are couple of points that
need to be mentioned with regards to the choice of IVs. As already discussed, there are
various possible factors that can influence the degree of political stability. This analysis
avoids using some of these for two reasons: 1) there have already been numerous studies on
political in/stability employing these variables, and 2) in order to focus on factors found in the
systems theory approach by David Easton, as well as in the definition of requirement for
political stability.(→ Chapter I) Focusing on structural and systemic factors related to
political in/stability was also suggested in a study by Jack Goldstone, Ted Gurr et al.15

The focus of analysis is on the timeframe 1995-2009. The reason for a larger time span is
related to the nature of political stability, which is difficult to examine within a short period of
time. Sandschneider writes, “In beliebig kurzen Betrachtungszeiträumen ist jedes gegebene
System stabil.”16 For the purpose of avoiding false observations fixed to one event or one
point in time, using a larger timeframe offers a more objective and clear analysis by excluding
some of the possible short-lived factors that may induce a deviation in results or false

To be used as “system” in the rest of the paper.
Refer to Chapter II.
Refer to Chapter II for an explanation of the concept.
Goldstone/Gurr 2010: 27.
Sandschneider 1995: 111.

2.2. Structure of Analysis

The chapters are titled according to the variables analyzed. Before chapter one, dependent
variable is dealt with, firstly by providing the necessary conceptual and definitional
background, and secondly with the operationalization of the DV by specifying and explaining
the chosen indicators. Chapter I is concerned with the first IV and its indicators. Th
beginning of this chapter includes some background context for each case and a brief
definition of stimuli, as these are not only part of the context but are important for the IV.
Within this chapter cases are compared according to their empirical measurement.
Additionally, there is a brief summary of the case results for IV1. Chapter II discusses the
second IV and its indicators. It includes the necessary empirical data for each of the cases. A
brief summary of IV2 helps reflect back on the empirical insight(s) won. Chapter III deals
with the case comparison of the dependent variable including the indicator measurements of
each case, with a brief summary at the end of the chapter. In Chapter IV, the interaction of
the variables and their causal relationship is discussed, including the evaluation of hypotheses.
Additionally, evaluation and conclusion follow. The Appendix contains a more detailed
definition about CEE and particularly relevant information on the Czech Republic, Hungary
and Slovakia.

2.3. Theoretical Framework

This analysis is concerned primarily with systems theory, but also with the theory of
relative deprivation (IV2). Given the explanatory breadth of the systems theory, the
particular approach by David Easton will be employed, especially for the first IV. This
approach is fitting for this study as it deals with the theoretical nature of a (political) system
and the interacting elements, which have an influence on the system as a whole. Initially, the
political equilibrium approach17 was to be used in this analysis. According to this approach,
there is a tendency in a (political) system to maintain the given equilibrium. 18 However, after
some consideration, this approach has proven unfruitful, since a system – according to Easton

“Political equilibrium involves a balance between demands by citizens on the political system and candidates compete for
office.”, In: Sutter 2002:202.
Ibid., pp. 270.

– is not simply at equilibrium, but is constant fluid. Easton’s dynamic response model of a
political system19 is appropriate here, insofar as it gives considerable attention to inputs
(demands, support) and outputs (decisions, policies) in a system and the resulting feedback
loop. Inputs are directed towards political authorities.20 Demands and support are considered
by the authorities, upon which they make decisions and thus show their responsiveness to the
inputs by taking decisions and implementing reforms and policies. Authorities produce an
output which within the feedback loop, flows back to the society. This creates another round
of inputs as a reflection of the outcomes of the actions taken by political authorities.21

In order to identify demands and support it is important to form exclusions from the former
category of demands. According to Easton, the following should not be confused with
demands: expectations, public opinion, motivations, ideology, interests and preferences.22
Seeing that demands can strain the political system, Easton sees the response of the system to
those strains as being “as vital to the outcome as the nature of the initial stress itself.” 23 This
would complement Eberhard Sandschneider’s idea of political stability (→ Chapter I), which
requires flexibility of a system and political authorities to respond to various stimuli.

Support24 is another element of input and reflects legitimacy (→ Chapter II). Support is most
commonly expressed in political participation and voter turn-out for example. Regarding
legitimacy, Easton writes that,

if the constant threat of living on a precipice of disorder is to be avoided, at the

minimum the authorities require some assurance that within the limits set forth in the
political system, limits that I have been calling the regime, they can expect regularly to
obtain compliance with respect to the adoption and implementation of outputs and the
performance of necessary tasks. The belief in the legitimacy of authorities and regime
provides such a stable connection.25
Thus, legitimacy as an indicator for responsiveness of the political authorities is crucial.

Another important element of the dynamic response model is outputs. These can be defined as
“a stream of activities flowing from the authorities in a system”. 26 It is important here to
Easton 1965: 30
Ibid., pp 26.
Ibid., pp 32.
Ibid., pp 41- 47. With regards to public opinion, he notes that it may be influential in shaping demands and it is crucial that
before a public opinion can become a political demand, it „may need to wait for the position of a recognized leader to
become known or for an issue to be formed by others.“ Also, he notes that with regards for an interest “to become a demand,
there needs to be voiced a proposal that authorative action can be taken with regard to it.”
Ibid., pp 38.
Ibid., pp 159. ”We can say that A supports B either when A acts on behalf of B or when he orients himself favorably
toward B. B may be a person or group; it may be a goal, idea, or institution. I shall designate supportive actions as overt
support and supportive attitudes or sentiments as covert support.”
Ibid., pp 279.
Ibid., pp 349.

distinguish between outputs and outcomes as the consequences of outputs.27 Types of outputs
include authoritative and associated, modes include statements and performances. One final
key concept Easton’s approach is the feedback loop. It represents the channel through which
information is fed back to the authorities, as well as through which the regulative outputs of a
system are given.28 The ability of the authorities to produce satisfactory outputs is key for
political stability. Easton notes that,

a persistent inability of a government to produce satisfactory outputs for the members

of a system may well lead to demands for changing of the regime or for dissolution of
the political community. It is for this reason that the input-output balance is a vital
mechanism in the life of a political system.29

This point is essential because continuity and durability, or rather, the persistence of the
production of satisfactory outputs have a definite impact on the stability of a political system.
Political stability requires flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing conditions. Inputs,
outputs and the resulting feedback are of crucial significance for stability.

2.4. Methodology and Case Selection

This study is based on the method of comparative analysis which is defined as a systemic
analysis of a small-N.30 Admittedly, its inherent problem, as defined by Lijphart, is a weak
capacity to sort out rival explanations. This study thus incorporates the potential solutions
offered by Lijphart into the design and analysis that follows.31 This means there is a focus on
comparable cases, and the number of variables is reduced. The advantage of this is the use of
both quantitative and qualitative data to assess the possibility of a causal relationship between
the IV and DV. Additionally, Lijphart suggests using a “strong theory that serves to reduce
the number of explanatory factors that must be considered.”32 To this end – as mentioned in
previous in section 2.1. – the choice of variables has been deducted from the concept of
political stability and the theoretical framework(s).

Ibid., pp .351.
Ibid., pp 367.
Easton 1957: 397.
Collier 1991:7.
Ibid., pp 9.
Ibid., pp 18.

This study is based on primary and secondary literature, various surveys and polls, and
strongly on indices and statistical databases such as the Political Stability Index (Economist
Intelligence Unit), International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA)
Electoral Database, Polity IV Project, Political Risk Index (PRI), Worldwide Governance
Indicators (World Bank Group), and European Social Survey (ESS). The methodological
processes include discourse and content analysis, statistical data evaluation and thus testing of
hypothesis and verification of theoretical concepts.

The following criteria, in addition to Lijphart’s recommendation to focus on comparable

cases, are used to identify cases for comparison:

Considered for analysis are:

1) all CEE states,

2) all CEE states out of the group that joined the EU in 2004 (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,
Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia),

3) states with similar transformation processes and a variance in the IVs ( Visegrad states:
Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia),

4) states with relatively comparable surface and population size. Thus Poland is not being
considered, in addition to the fact that Poland entails some historical and political specifics.

Employing these criteria and considering the lack of financial and time resources for this
study, three countries were identified, namely Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovak

2.5. State of Research

Much of the research on political stability has focused on: 1) defining the concept and
narrowing it to a measurable scope,34 and 2) empirical research concerned with the classical
idea of measuring instability in certain countries and regions where instability was once or is
currently more obvious. The most commonly used approach is the large-N study with cross-
national, cross-cultural and cross-longitudinal data. However, David Sanders has pointed out
the difficulty in measuring political stability cross-culturally – namely, that the contexts for

From now on Slovak Republic will be referred to as Slovakia.
Refer to for example Ake, Sanders, Eckstein.

political stability are different and thus the measurements are incompatible. 35 This would
point, first, towards a combined analysis using quantitative and qualitative methods, and
second, towards the direction of regional analysis with regards to political in/stability.
Moreover, when using the comparative method, a study between countries with similar
contexts (though not necessarily political systems) should in this case give more fruitful

The methodology of the more often conducted large-N research on political stability has
habitually used computer-based analysis, with the help of specific programs, to calculate the
data. Further, the scientific analysis of in/stability has often been based on countries that fall
into a specific category of political systems; in other words, non-democracies and hybrid
regimes.36 Research regarding political stability in democracies has frequently included
standard factors such as economy, ethnic composition, and protection of minorities, among
others. One particular study from 1983 pertained to political the political stability of Western

Another type of research frequently found with regards to political stability is consultancies’
and business monitors’ political stability risk reports and summaries. These, however, tend to
be shorter and are composed for the purpose of giving investors a picture of the political
situation in the country of interest.

2.6. Constraints to the Analysis

One difficulty for the following analysis stems from the fact that there is no clear onset of
political instability in the cases chosen for comparison. This means that political instability
cannot be identified as starting with armed conflict, war, revolution or a coup. Rather, it mus
be analyzed within a larger timeframe using the criteria for political stability applicable to
democratic countries.

With regard to methodology, the control method of the predominantly statistical large-N
study (a larger number of cases), though potentially betters, is not very suitable for this
analysis due to: 1) the lack of resources (financial and technical) and time, and 2) the spacial
constraints of this study.
Errson/Lane 1983:245.
For a list of countries „non-democratic“ and hybrid regimes, refer to EIU 2008:14.
Errson/Lane 1983:245.

Another restriction is due to the fact that the focus of recent research on CEE relied heavily
on economic factors influencing stability in the region. As such, the available English and
German sources are concerned largely with issues relating to the economic crisis and less with
systemic problems, including the input-output balance and communication processes
mentioned above. (→2.3) Additionally, the language barriers (mainly Hungarian and Slovak)
also pose a constraint. Translation has been made where information and data was necessary
to obtain.

Lastly, the lack of co-operation with regards to requested interviews reduced the opportunity
to include those as part of the material to be evaluated.

Dependent Variable: Degree of Political Stability

Definitional Background: Political Stability

Owing to the fact that political stability is a fairly broad concept, numerous (competing)
definitions have arisen over time, particularly since World War II. It is important to keep in
mind, that the concept is largely dependent on the individual elements and contexts of cases
analyzed. While one country may be considered politically instable, the same circumstance
would not apply to political instability in another country. However, in order to carry out a
comparative political analysis, an integrative definition of the concept is necessary. But first,
some of the various ways to employ this concept will be outlined.

One of the approaches to political stability focuses on patterns of behavior. Claude Ake
views political stability as “the regularity of the flow of political exchanges”. There are
behavior patterns in a society and simultaneously there are limits within which member of
society should stay. “Any act that deviates from these limits is an instance of political

However, Keith M. Dowding and Richard Kimber have criticized this approach by arguing

This view [Ake’s] turns stability into something that pertains to acts and not to
governments, systems, institutions, and so on. The regularity of exchanges may be
stabilizing (i.e. cause X to be stable), but it cannot be what stability itself means.40

Thus they offer a view that there need be elements to stability which are necessary for
continuity, and “the continuity of those elements constitutes survival.”41 Furthermore, they
argue that although change should not be precluded, instability is not to be solely defined in
terms of change.42
Ake 1975:273.
Ake 1975:273.
Dowding/Kimber 1983:233.
Dowding/Kimber 1983:237.
Dowding,/Kimber 1983:236.

The idea of continuity is also present in Sandschneider’s explanation of stability as a steady
state equilibrium (Fließgleichgewicht). Sandschneider sees a system as “stable” when there is
a continuous and coordinated fluctuation of the system variables, and no actors or system
components have a motivation to change or disrupt the existing or newly established
structural and functional arrangements.43 Furthermore, a system requires flexibility and needs
to integrate and process external and internal stimuli.44

The flexibility of the (political) system and its responsiveness to specific stimuli would
assume that the political authorities are capable of handling the political situation. To further
expand on this, Jerzy Mackow sees “political stability” as a state of the political system that is
preserved even if there are institutional processes of change, and where if hard cases occur,
the governing bodies would not see this as a loss of control over the situation. Otherwise, in
such cases, the population might question the system decisions.45

Another interesting definition is offered by Arthur S. Goldberg. His definition also takes into
account the various components of a system and the factors influencing the decision-makers,
as well as the important part capabilities play in securing stability. Goldberg,

distinguishes between the "tenability" (T) of a regime (R) and the "stability" of the
system: (T) is the probability that (R) will produce a policy package "without
provoking an internal reaction which proves fatal to that regime" and "stability" is the
"degree of resistance of (T) to changes in the factors of which it is a function-these
factors being the policy preference orderings held by the components of the system
and the distribution of capabilities across these components." A "fatal internal
reaction" is one which results in a change of the decision-makers.46
Lastly, Harry Eckstein’s view of political stability would be the most valuable here, as it deals
particularly with democratic political stability.

His definitional constructs are: (1) persistence of pattern-not mere longevity or

governmental endurance but persistence in the sense of having the capacity to "adapt
to changing conditions, for realizing political aspirations and holding fast allegiances";
(2) legitimacy-not only the absence of strong dissent but the presence of positive
acceptance and support; (3) effective decision-making- effective "not in the sense of
right action on the basis of some particular scheme of values, but in the basic sense of
action itself, any sort of action, in pursuit of shared political goals or in adjustment to

Sandschneider 1995:117.
For a more detailed explanation of stimuli, please see Chapter II.
Mackow 1998: 75.
Goldberg 1968:454.

changing conditions"; and (4) authenticity-"the democratic structures must not be mere
facades for actual government by nondemocratic structures."47
In summary, for Eckstein, “the term ‘stability,’ when applied to democracies, thus implies
four conditions: persistence of pattern, legitimacy, decisional effectiveness, and

For the purpose of this paper, Eckstein’s definitional constructs and Sandschneider’s
requirements for stability (continuity in system variable and flexibility to respond to stimuli)
are most fitting, considering the context of cases compared, meaning their democratic

2. Operationalization and Measurement

To measure the degree of political stability, various indices exist, mostly of which employ the
large-N method of measurement to obtain results. These indexes include the Political Stability
Index from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the Worldwide Governance Indicators
Project (WGI) from the World Bank Group and the Political Capital scores, among others.

2.1. Political In/Stability Indices

The EIU Index measures the degree of vulnerability to political instability across 165
countries on a scale from 0 (no vulnerability) to 10 (highest vulnerability). 49 The index itself
has two component indexes – underlying vulnerability and economic distress –which are a
combination of numerous indicators. The country results for 2009/2010 are compared to those
for 2007.50

The WGI index ranges from 1998-2008 and offers political stability scores for 212 countries.
It is based “on 35 different data sources from 33 organizations around the world, aggregating
the data from hundreds of disaggregated questions.”51 The advantage of this index is that the
score for each country can be observed within a longer timeframe and compared to other
countries in a given region.

Eckstein 1973:458.
Eckstein 1992: 184.
Refer to EIU: 19.3. 2009
World Bank 2009.

Political Capital Institute scores for political in/stability are valuable insofar as they combine
qualitative and quantitative analysis. Additionally, the score can also be compared to other
years, though only for one specific country (Hungary).

Thus, in order to get a more precise assessment of the degree of the DV, it is useful to include
public protest events52 (both non-violent and violent) as an additional indicator.

2.2. Public protest events (non-violent and violent)

Public protest events indicate a degree of political in/stability, depending on the number,
frequency and character of the protests. They show the inputs and demands of the population
and a possible proclivity towards social and political unrest. Dissatisfaction with either
government performance and/or the situation (particularly socio-economic) in the country will
most likely lead to a proclivity to protest. (for social imbalance, see IV2).

Under public protest events meant are different forms of protest, such as public demonstrations or political
rallies, riots, strikes.

Chapter I. Independent Variable 1: Responsiveness of the Political Authorities

1. Brief Definitional Background: Political Authorities, Stimuli

In short, (legitimate)53 political authority refers to the following elements:

1) actors – the government (political parties, political leaders) and its political institutions.

2) actions – the duties and responsibilities of the actors towards the citizens.

Stimuli are categorized according to their source (endogenous and exogenous) and their intent
(intended and un-intended).54 The compatability of the structures of a system with a stimulus
or stimulus compatibility (Anreizkompatibilität) – is concerned with whether a given stimulus
compromises or advances the system; in other words how it functions within the system. How
a system or rather its actors perceive the stimuli is key. This ties in with the already discussed
concept of political stability, requiring flexibility by the system. Furthermore, it is related to
the theoretical framework in which a system is required to act upon inputs and the possible
stress these may cause. Again, it is important to mention that stimuli do not as such affect the
dependent variable, but are nonetheless a valuable element of the context in which a political
system is situated. A good example of this is Sandschneider’s explanation of destabilizing
stimuli with regards to the dissolution of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). He
explains that on the micro level the destabilizing stimuli – such as the visit of Gorbachov,
leadership changes from Erich Honecker to Egon Kranz, escape wave (Fluchtwelle) through
Hungary, the abolition of the Breshnev doctrine and the absence of political and economic
support from the UDSSR, among others – were important events that helped lead to the fall of
the GDR.55 Yet, they did not directly lead to system failure, as the Sozialistische
Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED) managed to cover the destabilization costs over years56.
Eventually however, the system was not able to cope any further. This example should clarify
the notion that stimuli are not to be confused with the IV. Stimuli are part of the context in
which a political system, and thus also political actors, function.

Formed and legitimized through democratic processes.
Sandschneider 1995:125.
Ibid., pp. 120.
Ibid., pp. 120.

Relating back to the concept and requirements for political stability, and taking into
consideration the theoretical framework used here, it is assumed that this IV has a
considerable influence on political stability. In order to measure the degree of the IV, the
following two indicators have been chosen:

1.) Worldwide Governance Indicators on a) governance effectiveness and b) voice and
accountability and;

2) Degree of legitimacy measured by a) degree of support (through voter turnout and election
results and b) degree of trust (through surveys and polls). The concepts of support and trust
are based on Easton’s approach to legitimacy within the wider systems theory. Legitimacy has
been ruled out as a possible IV as it is assumed here that it does not directly influence political
stability. Rather, it indicates an existence of a deeper problem in case the legitimacy of
political authorizes is low or a success in case legitimacy is high.

2. Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI)

Two WGI indicators that are particularly relevant to the IV are:

→ Government Effectiveness (GE): capturing perceptions of the quality of public services, the
quality of the civil service and the degree of its independence from political pressures, the
quality of policy formulation and implementation, and the credibility of the government's
commitment to such policies.58

→ Voice and Accountability (VA): capturing perceptions of the extent to which a country's
citizens are able to participate in selecting their government, as well as freedom of expression,
freedom of association, and a free media.59

Degree of Legitimacy

The degree of legitimacy is a central indicator for how the political authorities are fulfilling
their responsibilities, responding to demands and dealing with possible stress factors.

World Bank 2009
Kaufmann/Kraay/Mastruzzi 2009: 6.

There is a general presumption that its [political legitimacy] absence has profound
implications for the way that states behave toward citizens and others. States that
lack legitimacy devote more resources to maintaining their rule and less to
effective governance, which reduces support and makes them vulnerable to
overthrow or collapse. Within the ruling elite, doubts about legitimacy undermine
self-esteem, which creates splits that accelerate this process. More generally, the
concept has become a central part of modern political discourse. 60

There might be an assumption that the concept of (political) legitimacy 61, even though crucial,
is difficult to measure. Nevertheless, there are ways to do so, first as a study by Bruce Gilley
shows,62 and second by empirically employing Easton’s model of the political system.

Gilley establishes three sub-types of legitimacy: views of legality, views of justification and
acts of consent.63 For each of these he has two categories: “actions” and “attitudes”, which are
measurable, for example by using surveys and opinion polls. Gilley is able to aggregate the
data from the indicators in these two categories and the three sub-types. As a result, he obtains
measurements of legitimacy for 72 countries.64 Another tool to measure the responsiveness of
political authorities (through legitimacy) is the European Social Survey (ESS). It is an
impressive tool that can be used from 2002 to 2008.

According to Easton, legitimacy indicates the degree to which political authorities have
managed to respond to inputs and demands.

Typically, members of a political system may find themselves opposed to the

political authorities, disquieted by their policies, dissatisfied with their conditions of
life and, where they have the opportunity, prepared to throw the incumbents out of
office. At times such conditions may lead to fundamental political or social change.65

Degree of Support

As the political authorities receive demands from within the population (and/or from interest
groups) for wage increases, reform of the social system, et cetera), they need to produce
satisfactory outcomes in order to retain their support and, thus, their legitimacy.

The authorities will be evaluated according to the extent to which these demands are
perceived to have been met. Specific support arising in this way can be of
Gilley 2006: 499.
From now on only referred to as legitimacy.
Gilley 2006:499.
Ibid., pp. 502.
Ibid., pp. 509.
Easton 1975: 436.

considerable significance for the stability or change of a system. Conceivably a person
may have little trust in the political authorities and may not even believe in their
The degree of support is measured through voter turnout and election results.

3.1.1 Voter Turnout

Voter turnout, as a form of political participation and, thus, a fundamental element in any
democracy is key in indicating the perceived legitimacy of political authorities. It is also
necessary in obtaining mathematical values of support. The data is obtained through national
elections offices, EU statistics offices and the International Institute for Democracy and
Electoral Assistance (International IDEA). The latter provides the latest statistics (including
2009) and details for three election types: presidential, parliamentary and European
Parliament (EP) elections.

3.1.2 Election Results

Election results point specifically towards the performance of political authorities, given the
quantitative data – obtained mostly through national electoral offices and EP election results
(2004 and 2009) – through on which a qualitative analysis can be performed. This means that
the success and legitimacy of a government, for example, can be understood by looking at the
election results of particular opposition parties. If the election results show a high degree of
opposition success, the perceived legitimacy of the government is low.

3.2. Degree of Trust

With regards to trust in political authorities, Easton writes that,

The presence of trust would mean that members would feel that their own
interests would be attended to even if the authorities were exposed to little supervision
or scrutiny. For the regime, such trust would reveal itself as symbolic satisfaction with
the processes by which the country is run… In addition to its source in socialization,
however, we can also expect that trust will be stimulated by the experiences that
members have of the authorities over time. The outputs and performance of
incumbent authorities may slowly nourish or discourage sentiments of trust. 67
Trust is measured here mostly through the data of the ESS and through opinion polls and
surveys, conducted by other polling and research institutes.
Easton 1975: 438
Easton 1975: 447, 448.

4. Hungary, the Czech Republic and, the Slovak Republic: Case Comparison of
Independent Variable 1

4.1. Context and Stimuli

In order to measure the IVs and to better understand the indicator(s) results, it is important to
consider the context within which these variables operate and the stimuli that play or might
play a role in variability of the IV. While it is not within the scope of the paper to discuss
neither the context or the stimuli at length, a short outline of the major elements is necessary.

According to Zoltán Lakner, society in Hungary is divided into three parts: 1) the comprador
elite of globalism, 2) the national middle class, and 3) the “wretched” masses.68 Within this
society, the cleavages that shape the political landscape and rhetoric, or political life consist
of a couple of things. First is the defining conflict of the “integration into, or separation from
and oppression by, the communist/socialist state-party system.”69 This debate and that around
socio-cultural issues70 permeates party politics. It is reflected in election campaigns and the
general political discourse. In 2004, after losing the parliamentary election to the Hungarian
Socialist Party (MSZP), the Hungarian Civic Union (Fidesz) created a new concept where the
“true adversary is the post-communist elite exemplified by MSZP-SZDSZ (Alliance of Free
Democrats) government.”71 Herwith, Fidesz moved away from the general anti-communist
strategy to rather predominantly include the elites instead, or the successors of the previous
communist state-party. Thus the communist/anti-communist debate in Hungarian politics can
be used, reframed and transformed to fit the political sentiments at a given time.

Another major cleavage is the urban/rural divide (created by the industrial revolution) within
Hungarian political life. Parties with a right-wing orientation tend to find more supporters in
the rural areas than in urban parts of the country (also see indicator results in IV2). Yet, what
had proven a false way to use this cleavage for the purposes of winning the election is
exemplified by the Fidesz’ loss in 2002. “The placing of the countryside in conflict with
Budapest…, though symbolic in origin, had very material effects, intensifying the rejection of
Fidesz in the capital to the bitter end and proving the decisive factor in the elections of April

Lakner 2007:99.
Körösényi 1999: 64.
Kitschelt 1999:234.
Lakner 2007:101.
Ibid., pp.100.

The post-communists (MSZP) have tried to define the cleavages according to labor/capital or
religious/secular but not communist/anti-communist conflict lines. However, it is interesting
that Hungary has a low salience of the economic cleavage,73 even though it has the second-
lowest employment rate in Europe.74 That the economic conflict lines are not so strong, could
also be related back to Hungary’s early start of economic reforms (already in communist
times) and contrary to some other CEE countries (Czech Republic for example), the
expropriation of most large and small enterprises during the communist times was not as high,
thus permitting more room for economic capital.75 According to a recent study from August
2009, welfare issues in Hungary are “significantly less central and relative to nationalism and
the Communist legacy.”76 In a comparison between 2003 and 2007, scores for the conflict
dimension of “nationalism” were 2.1 (for 2003) and 2.7 (for 2007), with 1 meaning the most
significant and 5 meaning insignificant. An increase in the conflict dimension for “communist
legacy” was also reflected in the change of scores: from 3.5 (2003) to 2.4 (2007).77

Due to the transformation and a changed economic, political and social framework, the
support base for parties has also transformed. For example, changing economic structures
have brought about both the decrease and disappearance of work places in industries, which
were typically a social-democratic milieu. Thus, the supporter base has decreased and shifted.
Similarly, changes in re-privatization and EU guidelines in the area of agriculture – an
important industry for Hungary – have resulted in farmers losing out. This has caused voter
preferences to shift from the f social-democrats to right-wing oriented parties.78 All of these
changes help to elucidate the conflict lines and movements in political and socio-economic
settings, which are important to consider when analyzing the IVs below.

The stimuli that arise within and from the Hungarian context include: a falling real GDP rate
(which dropped 0,3 % from 2008 to 2009)79, an increase in unemployment rate (from 7.7% in
2008 to 9.6% in 2009)80, a decline in the quality of the healthcare system (ranked 20th out of
31 countries), the strength of the current opposition (Fidesz), an increase in right-wing
popularity, discrimination against minorities (particularly Roma), rising energy and food
Kitschelt 1999:286.
Horáková 2002.
Whitefield/Rohrschneider 2009:676.
Ibid., pp.677.
Ibid., pp 97
European Commission 2009.
Hungarian Central Statistical Office 7.10.2009.

prices (gas by about 10% and fuels and electricity by 3-4%) 81, general dissatisfaction within
the population, highly active radical movements82, allegations of corruption with regards to
new ministers,83 high frequency and intensity of peaceful demonstration and strikes.84
Furthermore, the global economic crisis has greatly impacted Hungary. The country has
received an IMF package that could be threatened by uncertainty surrounding the elections in
2010.85 Slovak-Hungarian tensions86 are a further stimuli that play a role when it comes to
stability in the relations with Slovakia.

Cleavage and conflict lines in the Czech Republic differ from those in Hungary. Within the
Czech context, the focus is primarily upon socio-economic division lines. Needless to say,
part of the reason is related to the communist past and the stricter rules under communism in
Czechoslovakia than in Hungary. As was mentioned, the extent of expropriation of large and
small business varied between the CEE states. In the Czech Republic “virtually no private
ownership of service outlets was allowed. In Hungary, by contrast, a significant private sector
of small businessmen, primarily in the trade and service sectors, had been growing since
1968, particularly in the 1980’s.”87 In the Czech Republic, the “welfare state” indicator (a
study by Stephen Whitefield and Robert Rohrschneider) has an increasing importance: the
score for 2003 was 1.6 an for 2007 1.4.88 Within the political discourse, the polarization over
economic issues is more significant in the Czech Republic and the socio-cultural divide plays
rather a minor role.89 “Market vs. state”90 is the next important conflict dimension. These
cleavages point towards: 1) the direction of political, economic and social development in the
Czech Republic, 2) domination of issues in Czech political debate, and 3) possible voter
preferences and election results (→ Chapter II). Unlike in Hungary, the conflict line along the
subject of communism/anti-communism is not very strong in the Czech Republic, as the
election results show (→ Chapter II). Moreover, the Czech Communist Party of Bohemia and
Moravia (KSCM) has a much more extensive supporter base than the communist parties in
either Hungary or Slovakia.

Political Capital 2008: 3.
Ibid., pp.5.
Ibid., pp 5.
Ibid., pp.5.
“Hungary's minority government has navigated the country from the brink of economic collapse but faces near certain
defeat in an election next year, bringing new uncertainty that could threaten an IMF package” in Reuters. 7.10.2009.
See Reuters News 1.9.2009.
Frydman/Rapaczynski/Turkewitz 1997:51.
Whitefield/Rohrschneider 2009:677.
Kitschelt 1999:266.
Ibid., pp 677.

Considering the context above, the following stimuli play a role: the contraction in GDP of a
record 5.5% in second quarter in 2009 (4.5% in the first quarter) 91, the rising unemployment
was (8.6% in September 2009).92 Apparently, the Czech Republic has been hit harder by the
crisis than assumed, yet still not as hard as Hungary who relied on IMF loans to avoid
bankruptcy. It is worth noting that Czech Republic is ethnically fairly homogenous (→
Annex), so ethnic issues do not present a key stress factor for the political authorities..

Concerning cleavages, Slovakia shows some similarity to the Czech Republic, but also
several differences to both Czech Republic and Hungary. As in the Czech Republic, the
“welfare state” indicator is very significant (1.8 in 2003 and 1.6 in 2007). The importance of
the “market vs. state” conflict line has increased from 2003 to 2007. This can be related to the
2002 radical neo-liberal reforms of the Mikulas Dzurinda center-right government,93 after
which economic issues became more important. It is worth noting a larger decrease in interest
in issues relating to “democracy” (from 3.1 in 2003 to 4.4 in 2007). 94 This decline is possibly
brought by the results of the 2006 government change, and the fact that the Social Democrats
(SMER) have formed a coalition with the radical Slovak Nationalist Party (SNS) and the
People's Party - Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS). Accordingly, the nationalist
rhetoric in Slovak politics has become stronger, especially when it comes to the Hungarian
minority and the Roma population. Even though in Hungary a similar nationalist presence has
been directed mostly against the Roma population, Slovakia is insofar different as the main
cleavage is not along the communist and anti-communist lines. Slovakia also differs from the
Czech Republic, as the focus is rather on: 1) the issue of whether one agrees with the left-
nationalist authority figures (such as the threefold PM Vladimir Meciar) or opposes the
policies and government style of those,95 and 2) the already-mentioned nationalistic
tendencies permeating different spheres of social, political, economic, and cultural life. This
may be a consequence of a weak democratic opposition and civil society, not only recently,
but from the beginning of the transformation.96 In addition, since the transition began, Slovak
economy had an overall poorer performance97 than that in Czech Republic and Hungary.

See the Economist Intelligence Unit-Viewswire. 9.9.2009.
See the Economist Intelligence Unit-Viewswire. Half of Czech unemployed threatened with poverty – expert . 13.10.2009.
Fitzmaurice 2003:166.
Whitefield,/Rohrschneider 2009: 677.
Holländer 2003:365.
Holländer 2003:369.
Evans/Whitefield 1998: 127.

The following stimuli play a role in Slovakia: decreased GDP (by 5.3%) in the 2nd quarter of
2009 in comparison to the 2nd quarter of 2008,98 diminishing employment rate (in the first half
of 2009 it dropped by 3.4%),99 increased tensions in the relationships with Hungary, among
others. Rising nationalist sentiments fed with “racist and xenophobic rhetoric used by the
country’s politicians (for example Jan Slota) is making the country sink to ‘a dangerous
level.’”100 Momentarily, this seems to be a strong factor affecting the political debate.

All three countries are to have parliamentary elections in 2010 (Hungary in April, Czech
Republic and Slovakia in June).

4.2. Worldwide Governance Indicators

4.2.1. Governance Effectiveness

The government effectiveness indicator shows data ranging from 1996 to 2008. Hungary has
illustrated a continuous deterioration, finding itself currently at 50th-75th percentile, 101 with
the lowest indicator value in 2008 and the highest in 2002. Within the past few years
numerous social reform policy issues arose. The opposition-led referendum – to strike down
health and university fees – proved a large defeat for the socialist-led government. 94% of the
votes were counted, and each of the three questions on the ballot received 82-84% support.102
The global economic crisis and the resulting economic distress in Hungary which - according
to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) – is very high (8.0 out of 10.0 in 2009), 103 prompted
economic reforms in the shape of sharp budget cuts (including social spending), making this
an unpopular measurement with the public. Nevertheless, these alone do not explain the
continuous decline in government effectiveness from 2002, with the exception of 2006, which
was an election year. Additional assumption is that the degree of conflict between the political
camps had an impact on the decline in governance effectiveness. Particularly, the
disagreements within parties themselves, as well as between different parties prove to be of
detrimental importance for this indicator. The motion of no-confidence against the Prime
Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány in March 2009 was the last prominent example of the
disagreement within a party (MSZP) itself. Gyurcsány ended up stepping down and Mr.
Gordon Bajnai (politically independent) taking over as the PM. The second form of
disagreement (between parties) has intensified since 2006. Earlier that year, a tape with a

Statistical office of the Slovak Republic 2.9.2009.
Statistical office of the Slovak Republic 21.9.2009.
Porter 26.9.2009.
Indicates rank of country among all countries in the world. 0 corresponds to the lowest rank and 100 to the highest.
See Reuters. Hungary’s government suffers big defeat in Referendum. 9.3.2008.
See Economist Intelligence Unit..Political Instability Index. Index. Vulnerability to Social and Political Unrest.

speech by Gyurcsány was leaked, where he was admitting that he and his party (MSZP)
knowingly lied about the national financial situation (debt) in the run-up to the elections. As a
result, large and violent protests against him followed, and this taken together with the above
mentioned economic reforms (austerity package) made the conflict between the political
camps worse.

The rightwing conservative camp, which has been in the opposition since 2002,
increasingly seems to be calling the parliamentary system into question. The rift
between the camps is exacerbated by disputes over the past that conceal fundamental
differences in national politics.104

The above quotation refers to the previously mentioned cleavages, particularly the
communist/anti-communist conflict line. The communist past and events such as the 1956
Budapest uprising are instrumentilized for political goals and advantages. Moreover, the
Political Capital Analyst evaluated the commitment to reform on part of the governing side as
“very weak” (2 out of 10) on the grounds that the, “Government parties do not think of
considerable transformations, the main aspect of their political measures and initiatives is to
gain popularity and short-term political benefits.”105 This is true for the much needed tax
reform, which yet is not on the agenda, as “a step-by-step tax reform can only be successful
within two years if it is managed by a smooth schedule stably supported by the parliamentary
majority, namely if the political actors throw off their short-term political interests.”106

On a different note, the 2002 high government effectiveness indicator level is presumably
related to the efforts stemming from the need to fulfill the pre-accession Copenhagen Criteria,
which required certain structural changes and better governance.

In comparison, 1998 exhibits the worst government effectiveness levels for the Czech
Republic and 2005 and 2008 the best. The 2008 level is slightly lower than 2005, but has
improved from 2007.

Taking into consideration the weight of the above-mentioned “welfare state” issue, the fact
that government effectiveness was highest in 2005 may be related to the increase in social and
assistance benefits (social security benefits, pension insurance and sickness insurance, state
social care support benefits and unemployment benefits). All of those had seen a continuous

Von Ahn 2006.
Political Capital 2008: 5.
Ibid., pp 8.

increase in the last fifteen years since 2005.107 Furthermore, the accession of the Czech
Republic to the EU in 2004, in other words the increased availability of funding, can also play
a role in defining indicator scores. Hungary though also joined the EU in 2004, but has been
showing poorer government effectiveness. Thus, the EU membership (including EU funds)
itself is not the sole most important factor for the performance of national governments.

1998 reflects episodes and decisions made in the prior years, including 1998 itself. During the
time Vaclav Klaus was PM (1992-1997) several policy areas turned out to be rather
unsuccessful. The economy reforms ended up worse than Klaus had promised them to be and
numerous social reform elements were increasingly unpopular. The employment benefits
were reduced from 90% to 60% of the one’s previous salary and the maximum length of
benefits declined from 12 to 6 months.108 The economy contracted and the unemployment
rose.109 A call for Klaus’ resignation in May 1997 – both from the opposition (social
democrats) and from the side of his own cabinet – was the result. The Trade and Industry
Minister Vladimir Dlouhy (from the Cabinet of Vaclav Klaus, The Civic Democratic Alliance
- ODA) suggested the resignation of the entire government.110 One further aspect that helped
lead the Klaus government to collapse was a funding scandal.111 At the end of 1997, after the
government break-up (Klaus’ resignation and that of the entire cabinet), a voter mandate
called for the formation of a government “that would reflect voter’s wishes.” The right
however, was unable to form a coalition due to personal issues and conflicts. 112 A sum of
these incidences and issues, which extended into 1998, impacted the government
effectiveness score.

If the score for 2009 was already available, we might see a decline in political stability due to
the collapse of the government in March 2009, where the PM Mirek Topolanek lost a no-
confidence vote.113 Even though, the Czech government exhibits internal weaknesses, the
financial market was not affected much.114 This indicates: 1) that the political authorities were
better able to deal with the economic crisis, and/or 2) that the economy was in better shape
than in other CEE countries before the crisis affected the country.

Czech Statistical Office 2005.
Terrell/Munich 1996:180, 205.
Refer to Hospodarske Noviny. 1998’s most important events. 31.12.1998.
Refer to RFERL Newsline 20.5. 1997.
Refer to CTK Business News 1.12.2007.
Refer to Hospodarske Noviny 1998’s most important events. 31.12.1998.
Refer to Forbes 25.3.2009.

Slovakia had shown the lowest government effectiveness in 1998. One of the stronger reasons
for this was the – often as autocratic described - governing-style of the former PM Vladimír
Mečiar (1994-1998). During these years Slovakia was in an international isolation. Some of
the policies adopted during this time, or at least between 1996 and 1998 (as the graph below
points towards a higher government effectiveness in 1996), have made the situation even less
satisfactory. The Czech News Agency (CTK) Business News notes at the end of 1998 that,
“The privatisation as undertaken by Vladimir Meciar's government and the reign of the new
owners at companies only further worsened the situation”. 115 The Slovak News Agency
(SITA) also wrote one day later that, “the year of 1998 was in the sign of interrupted social
dialogue because of unfair approach of the previous Vladimir Meciar's government to trade
unions”, which meant that 1998 was the hardest year so far. 116 These years also brought a loss
of credibility in the eyes of the EU and NATO, which – in case Mečiar’s Ruling Movement
for A Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) would have won the 1998 Elections – was not ready to
consider Slovakia’s accession to the EU.117 The improvement started in 2003 and the highest
level of government effectiveness was reached in 2006. According to Mikulas Dzurinda
(Chairman of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – SDKU), the year 2006 has been
rather good for Slovakia due to the acceleration of economic growth, decreasing
unemployment rate, records breaking koruna levels and in general improving mood of the
population.118 Taking all the years (1996-1998) into account, the government effectiveness
indicator for Slovakia shows much lower levels compared to Hungary and the Czech

Refer to CTK Business News. 30.12.1998.
Refer to Slovenska Tlacova Agentura. 31.12.1998.
Refer to RFERL 8.9.1998.
Refer to BBC Monitoring European. 27.12.2006.

Diagram 1. Government Effectiveness Indicator (1996-2008)

Source: Kaufmann, D.; Kraay A.; Mastruzzi M.: Governance Matters VIII. Governance Indicators 1996–2008.

4.2.2. Voice and Accountability

The Voice and Accountability indicator analysis will be shorter than governance effectiveness
analysis, due to similarities in explanation of scores; in other words the high correlation
between government effectiveness and voice and accountability.

The indicator was the highest for Hungary in 2004, higher than Czech Republic and
Slovakia. However, since then it decreased to its low in 2008. This might have a few reasons:
first, similar to government effectiveness, the EU accession in 2004 had a positive impact on
the performance of political authorities and institutions. After the above-mentioned scandal
Ferenc Gyrscany), voice and accountability of the political authorities and particularly that of
the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) plunged to its low. A recent poll had shown a clear
preference of Hungarian population regarding the upcoming parliamentary elections (April
2010). Only 18% of the respondents would vote for the MSZP, 65% for Fidesz and 12% for
the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik).

Contrary to Hungary, voice and accountability in the Czech Republic is highest in 2008 and
lowest in 2000. The lowest coincides with the government effectiveness levels in 2000, thus
there is no extensive need to illustrate the circumstance again. The assumptions for this
indicators coincide with the analysis of government effectiveness. Overall voice and
accountability has been increasing.

Slovak Republic showed the lowest percentiles until 2000, 1996 being the worst year and
2006, but momentarily the score is lower than Hungary. For 1996, it can again be presumed
that during the period of the Meciar-led government, due to its autocratic character, voice and
accountability was low.

It is fundamental to look at the data over a longer period of time, as according to the trends
shown, Hungary’s indicator levels have been continuously decreasing since mid-2000’s, even
though the data for 2008 is slightly higher than that for Slovakia.

Diagram 2. Voice and Accountability Indicator (1996-2008)

Source: Kaufmann, D.; Kraay A.; Mastruzzi M.: Governance Matters VIII. Governance Indicators 1996–2008.

4.3. Degree of Legitimacy

Beside the two WGI above, another fundamental indicator for IV1 is the degree of legitimacy.
According to the measurement of legitimacy by Gilley, Hungary is ranked 36th (out of 72
countries),119 Czech Republic 31st and Slovakia 46th. However, these results are taken at face
value meaning that, compared to other non-democratic countries with surprisingly better
ranking (for example China which is 19th), there are factors causing this discrepancy in scores.
Therefore, it is necessary to look at the degree of support (through voter turnout and election

Gilley 2006:512.

results) and the degree of trust (through polls and surveys) in order to gain a clearer picture of
legitimacy as an indicator for the IV, and thus the assessment of the degree of responsiveness
of political authorities.

4.3.1. Degree of Support

Support for political authorities can be expressed in different ways (through voter turnout,
election results). It can on one hand take on a form of satisfaction or on the other hand express
dissatisfaction and a disillusionment with the performance of political authorities. Voter Turnout

As the data in Table 1 below illustrates, voter turnout in parliamentary elections in Hungary
decreased and shows the lowest percentage (64.4) in the last parliamentary elections in 2006,
except for 1998. Furthermore, the relationship between the number of citizens above the
voting age (Voting Age Population (VAP) column), which has risen and was the highest in
2006, in relation to those who actually voted (41.1% in the Vote/VAP 120 column) shows a
very large decrease in voter turnout. From 2002 to 2006, the decrease amounts to 9.1% and
2006 local elections had an even lower turnout at 46,53%.121

The European Parliament (EP) Elections show a digression between the years 2004 and 2009
in which Hungarian citizens were eligible to participate. A clearer trend will be able to be
identified better once there are a few more EP elections in the future.

Comparing the results, it can be said that a specific positive correlation between the voter
turn-out in national parliamentary elections and those on the EU level exists; in other words,
the lack of political support and participation at the national level is reflected in that for the
EP elections. Furthermore, the EP election results in 2009 can be taken as an indication for
what the political mood is in Hungary.

Worth noting is that in all of Europe there has been a continuous decline in voter turnout since
1979 (starting with the EU9).122

The total number of votes cast (valid or invalid) divided by the Voting Age Population figure, expressed as a percentage.
Refer to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
National Election Office Hungary16.4.2009.
Refer to the European Parliament 2009.

Table 1. Voter Turnout in Hungary (1990-2006)

Source: Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA)

This fact points to a disconnection between the population and the political elite in European
countries. Table 2 below shows the voter turnout in parliamentary elections in the Czech
Republic, indicating a decline since 1990 (then still Czechoslovakia). The first two free
elections in 1990 and 1992 are not analyzed in detail as the results were for Czechoslovakia,
before the “velvet divorce” in January 1993. It is needless to say, that the imminent collapse
of communism has inspired new hopes and expectations – reflected in the high voter turnout –
placed on the transformation. Voter turnout reached its bottom at 57.9% in 2002, but rose
again to 64.5% in 2006.123 The parliamentary election that was supposed to take place on
October 9, 2009 has been postponed until June 2010.

The voter turnout for the EP elections has been extremely low in both years of participation
(2004 and 2009). Much has not changed in five years (only an increase of 0.01%). In
principle, in the five years since the Czech Republic joined the EU, enthusiasm about voting
at the EP Elections has not proved to be large. The current President of the Czech Republic
and a known Eurosceptic, Vaclav Klaus, dubbed the elections in his country “‘one quarter
elections’ referring to the low voter turnout.” 124

Refer to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance 3.11.2009.
Bickerton 1.7.2009.

Table 2. Voter Turnout in the Czech Republic (1990-2006)

Source: Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA)

Similarly, voter turnout in the parliamentary elections in the Slovak Republic (Table 3)
diminished, reaching its low in 2006 (54.7%). Presidential elections show an even lower
turnout (51.7% in 2009). The EP elections turnout is worse than in Hungary and Czech
Republic. Yet, it is interesting to note that contrary to the other two countries, Slovakia has
seen an increase in voter turnout of 2.6% from 2004 to 2009. One other detail is to be
mentioned here: the Civil Liberties (CL) score for Slovakia in 1994 shows the status “Partly
Free”.125 The dominance of Vladimir Meciar’s politics until 1998 is reflected in the CL score
“3” for 1994. “He opposed direct presidential elections, resisted economic liberalization, and
disregarded the rule of law and a free press.”126 This would correspond to the levels of voice
and accountability in Slovakia discussed above. An improvement in all three countries with
regards to the Political Rights (PR) and CL scores has been marked in all three countries
(score of “1” in 2006).

“The two measurements of Political Rights and Civil Liberties have been taken from Freedom House which uses these
two categories as indicators of the levels of freedom in a country’s political system. A rating of 1 indicates the highest degree
of freedom and 7 the least amount of freedom. Each pair of political rights and civil liberties ratings is averaged to determine
an overall status. Those whose ratings average 1.0 to 2.5 are considered Free, 3.0 to 5.0 Partly Free, and 5.5 to 7.0 Not
Free.” Refer to the International Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
Refer to Freedom House 2002.

Table 3. Voter Turnout in Slovakia (1990-2006)

Source: Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) Election Results

Election results point towards the direction of citizens’ support and the performance of
political authorities, more specifically political parties in a given election period. Shown
below (Diagram 3) are parliamentary election results since 1990127 in Hungary. The MSZP
(center-left) had – due to its nature as a legal successor to the Hungarian Communist Party –
very low results in the first free election (8.55%). In the 1994 elections already MSZP has
shown a large increase, taking 54.14% of the votes. Its main competitor since 1998 is Fidesz
(center-right). The Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) – also a center-right party – who
achieved a high percentage (42.49) in 1990 and the SZDSZ – a center-left party – have since
1994 been losing out in support and popularity. SZDSZ was able to form a coalition
government with MDF and Fidesz, but otherwise do not enjoy a large support. The
polarization of parties – mainly a competition between MSZP and Fidesz – regarding main
cleavages and issues had a substantial influence in results of the governing party. Mutual
accusations and conflicts have possibly also affected the decreasing participation of
Hungarian citizens in politics and amplified disillusionment which is reflected in the
decreasing voter turnout discussed above. MSZP is the only party that has managed to be re-
This table does not include all parties in Hungary due to space constraints and focus of analysis.

elected, however the current indication is that in 2010 Fidesz will take the scene and MSZP
will be forced to go into opposition. This is a result of a growing dissatisfaction of citizens
with the governance levels of MSZP. The reforms and policies of the socialists have not
found a strong resonance in the population, but more so on occasion even anger (shown
through protest events and referenda). The overspending of the socialist-led government
during their governing years, eventually posed one of the major strains on the government,
which had to be remedied with budget cuts. This step did not find liking in Hungary and is
used by the opposition to instill distrust in the government and gain support for the upcoming

Diagram 3. Parliamentary Election Results for Hungary (1990-2006)

Source: National Election Office Hungary

Even more of a concern is the increase in popularity of radical forces. The last not only
surprising, but a worrisome result was that of the EP elections in 2009. The number of seats in
the parliament gained by the right-wing opposition in Hungary was high. Fidesz gained
56.35% and thus 14 out of 22 seats (for Hungary) in the parliament. 128 Furthermore, the
radical extremist far-right party Jobbik obtained a significant amount of votes very near to the
score of the now-governing MSZP, securing 14.77% (3 seats) and the MSZP 17.37% (4
seats).129 Jobbik has only been formed in 2003 and the large increase in support is of concern
for Hungary and the EU. MDF acquired 5.31% and thus 1 seat.

Refer to European Parliament 2009.

The MSZP had a higher score at the EP elections in 2004 (34,3%) and Jobbik was not on the
political stage yet. The expansion in right-wing support echoes the inability of the government
to address various socio-economic problems and apply reasonable reforms, deal with
factionalism and polarization within the political competition, and avoid scandals such as
Gyrscany lying.

As both the national and EP election results show, there is low trust and support for the
governing party, pointing to a low degree of legitimacy. Referring back to Eckstein (→
Chapter I), voter turnout and election results would be a fitting indication of legitimacy. He
sees “legitimacy as, - not only the absence of strong dissent but the presence of positive
acceptance and support.130

According to the poll on party preferences in the Czech Republic (conducted by the Public
Opinion Research Centre (CVVM)) at the end of September 2009, the current opposition
Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) is acquiring popularity and is now ahead of the
governing party ODS. CSSD is with 21% ahead of the ODS (18.5%), followed by the new
conservative Top 09 party (8.5%) and the KSCM (8%). It should be noted that in mid of
September 2009, the KSCM was slightly ahead of the Top 09 with regards to the percentage
of respondents that would vote for either.132

The ODS and the CSSD have been the two parties which, since 1996, dominated the political
scene. Diagram 4 below shows the summarized parliamentary election results for the top four
parties since 1996. The first three parliamentary elections display a decrease in the popularity
of ODS until 2002 and two consecutive governing periods for the CSSD (in 1998 and 2002).
Between 2002 and 2006, the popularity of ODS has increased in 10.8%, while the KSCM and
the conservative center-right Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People’s Party
(KDU-CSL) displayed a clear drop. Moreover, the CSSD also increased in 2.1%. The above
mentioned poll results for the upcoming election (2010) point toward the loss of legitimacy of
the ODS, particularly due to the government crisis late 2008/early 2009 and the
(mis)management of the economic crisis. With the focus on the effects of the economic crisis,
other reforms may be pushed aside. „Delayed elections in the Czech Republic did not stop the

Eckstein 1966:458.
Refer to the Centrum pro výzkum verejného mínení (Public Opinion Research Centre) 8.10.2009.
Refer to Angus Reid Global Monitor 15.9.2009

government approving sharp cuts in a 2010 budget, but analysts fear they could put off other
necessary reforms” 133

Diagram 4. Parliamentary Election Results for the Czech Republic (1996-2006)

Source: Czech Statistical Office

With regard to the EP election results, the ODS has shown lead (31.45%), followed by the
left-wing CSSD (22.36%) and the KSCM (14.18%).134 KSCM “is the only non-transformed
ex-communist party in Central Europe”135.and holds a large support base in Czech Republic
(12.6%),136 especially compared to the low support for communist parties or their successors
in Slovakia and Hungary. According to the November 2009 polls the Czech political scene
has become even more polarized, with the ODS and the CSSD holding a tie (29.6% would
vote for the CSSD and 28.5% for the ODS in the next parliamentary elections).

In the next EP Elections it can be expected that the party preferences would correspond to
those in national elections. If so, there might be a an increased move of the CSSD upwards,
decrease of support for ODS and an enhanced support for the TOP 09.

Slovakia has a relatively large number of parties in parliament, making it rather difficult for
any party to gain a majority. Therefore, parties often have to work with each other in order to
form coalition governments. Since 2006, the coalition consists of the PM’s Robert Fico
Direction-Social Democracy (Smer) and the nationalist and ultra-right People's Party –

Reuters. FACTBOX-Five risks to watch in Western Europe. 1.10. 2009.
Refer to the European Parliament 2009. Results for Slovakia.

Eibl/ Matušková Anna 2007: 122
Refer to Angus Reid Global Monitor. Close National Race Continues in Czech Republic.16.11.2009.

Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (LS-HZDS) whose leader is Vladimir Meciar, as well
as the Slovak National Party (SNS) led by Ján Slota. Momentarily, the opposition consists of
the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party (SDKU-DS), Party of the
Hungarian Coalition (SMK-MKP) and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH). There are
quite a number of other extra-parliamentary parties. Since the parliamentary elections in 2002,
support for Smer has improved by 15.6% (from 13.5% to 29.1%)137 and the SNS had an
increase of 7.7% (from 3.3% to 11.7%). In contrast to Hungary, social democrats in Slovakia
are not loosing on popularity and according to a recent poll in September 2009, 39.3% of
respondents would vote for Smer in the next legislative ballot, 138 in November 2009 it saw an
increase to 42.9% of the respondents.139 The other six parties that would make it into the
parliament would be the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) with 13.8 per cent,
“followed by the KDH with 9.2 per cent, the SNS with 8.2 per cent, the People’s Party-
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (LS-HZDS) with 6.1 per cent, Bridge (Most-Hid) with
5.4 per cent, and the Party of the Hungarian Coalition (SMK) with 5.1 per cent.”140 In contrast
to a polarization between a couple of parties in both Czech Republic and Hungary, the larger
number of parties in Slovak political landscape (particularly in the parliament) reduce the
possibility of high polarization.

The EP elections, as in the case of Hungary and Czech Republic show a correlation between
the support for parties at the national level and at the EU level. Smer is at the top with
32.02%, followed by the SDKU-DS (16.99%), the SMK-MPK (11.34%), the KDH (10.87%),
the LS-HZDS (8.96%) and the SNS (5.56%). 141

In summary, all three countries have decisive differences when it comes to the degree of
support for political authorities, meaning also party support and party preferences. In Hungary
the social democrats (MDSZ) have tumbled in their popularity, support for Fidesz and Jobbik
expanded. In Czech Republic the social democrats are somewhat ahead of the ODS, followed
by the KSČM whereas in the other two countries, communists have lost definite support after
the collapse of the communist regime. This is a remarkable characteristic about the Czech
Republic and this can be related to the already outlined cleavage differences between the
countries (→ Chapter I). In Slovakia, an increase in support for nationalist parties and rhetoric
Refer to Parties and Elections in Europe 2009.
Refer to Angus Reid Global Monitor. Social Democrats Keep Large Lead in Slovakia. 12.10.2009.
Refer to Angus Reid Global Monitor. Smer Drops, but Has Large Lead 3.11.2009.
Refer to Angus Read Global Monitor. Social Democrats Keep Large Lead in Slovakia 12.10.2009.
Refer to European Parliament 2009. Results for Slovakia.

is obvious from the election results, however the social democrats are in contrast to Hungary
still the most dominant force. The difficulty though is the coalition with the nationalist and
ultra right-wing parties. Something else to consider when observing the increase in support
for nationalist and extremist parties is the degree of ethnic homogeneity in all three countries.
Czech Republic, as was mentioned, is the most homogenous amongst all three. Slovakia has a
large Hungarian Minority, as well as a Roma minority and Hungary has a large Roma
minority.(→ Annex)

4.4. Degree of Trust

Easton – in addition to the concept of support – had found the concept of trust pivotal to
measuring legitimacy and thus measuring responsiveness and performance of political
authorities. Easton notes that,

Even if members of a system are able to distinguish between the incumbent

authorities and the regime, at what point does distrust of a particular
administration begin to erode confidence in all authorities and finally in the
regime itself?”142
This does not necessarily mean that a low degree of trust in political authorities will definitely
lead to a complete erosion of confidence in the regime itself, meaning a disintegration of the
(democratic) ‘rules of the game’. However, a point at which the level of trust in political
authorities is significantly low may impact the political participation (for example through
voter turnout) which is one of the important elements of democracy. Therefore, one of the
criteria for political stability named by Eckstein – namely authenticity (of democratic
structures) – would be in question. The degree of trust in Hungary, the Czech Republic and
Slovakia is measured by polls and surveys.

The European Social Survey (ESS) offers a valuable tool in measuring the degree of trust in
political authorities (political parties, politicians, parliament).143 Interesting to mention is the
ESS correlation between the trust in various political authorities. In other words, there is a
high correlation between the trust in politicians and the parliament (0.722). 144 There is an even
greater correlation between the trust in political parties and trust in politicians (0.863). ESS
Easton 1976:440.
There have to date been four rounds of the ESS Survey (2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008). Hungary has taken part in all four
rounds of the ESS, whereas the Czech Republic (rounds 1, 2 and 4) and Slovakia (rounds 2, 3 and 4) have taken part in three
rounds each. Of the three countries however, only Slovakia has so far been included in the ESS4 data release. Yet, Hungary
and the Czech Republic should be included in the pre-Christmas release planned at the Norwegian Social Science Data
Services (NSD). Information from personal correspondence with NSD, 2.11.2009.
1 being complete correlation, 0 being no correlation and -1 being negative correlation. Refer to the European Social
Survey. (16.11.2009).

dataset for 2004145 illustrates the degrees of trust (tables 4,5 and 6) in political parties, in
politicians and in the country’s parliament. The results (given in percentages) are shown on a
scale from 0 (no trust at all) to 10 (complete trust). Slovakia displays the most lack of trust
(highest percentages) for all three types of political authorities.

The degree of trust in politicians in the Czech Republic has declined from 2002 to 2004 (9.8%
to 19.8%, “no trust at all”) and the same is true for Hungary (from 10.7% to 20.0%).

Table 4. Trust in Political Parties Table 5. Trust in Politicians

Table 6. Trust in Country’s Parliament

Source: European Social Survey, Dataset ESS2-2004, ed.3.1

Refer to the European Social Survey (1.11.2009).

Interestingly, if calculating the degree of trust in political parties in 2006, Hungary has an
increase in percentage for “no trust at all” by 5.9%, corresponding to the electoral results for
the social democrats (MSZP) already discussed above. In Slovakia there is also a decrease by
12% in 2006. Same applies to the degree of trust in politicians: from 2002 to 2004, Hungary
has an increased distrust by 5.1% and Slovakia a decrease by 13.8%. Lastly, the degree of
trust in country’s parliament declined enormously from 2002 to 2004 in both countries, in
Hungary by 42.4% and in Slovakia by 30.6%. Within four years (from 2002 to 2006) the
degree of trust in politicians in Hungary had decreased by more than double (from 10.7% to
25.1%).146 If looking at the results over a longer period of time, Hungary has been showing
the highest degree of change. The responsiveness of political authorities, if measured by the
degree of trust, has fallen in all three countries, but mostly so in Hungary.

4.5. Brief Summary: Independent Variable 1

In all three countries, WGIs, the degree of support and the degree of trust have continually
varied over a longer period of time. In the 2000’s, both Czech Republic and Slovakia had seen
an improvement in the first indicator government effectiveness, whereas Hungary illustrated a
decline. However, if the same indicator is observed from 1998 to 2008, the Czech Republic
has best overall results, not falling under the 75th percentile. Hungary was under the 75th
percentile in 2008 and Slovakia displays five years with the score under the 75 th percentile.
Thus, even though Slovakia has again improved in the past year (2008), the overall
continuity of low government effectiveness levels show underlying structural problems.

Voice and Accountability decreased in Hungary (particularly since 2004) and since 2000
increased in Czech Republic. Again, the indicator has in general been the lowest in Slovakia,
taking the 75th percentile line as a focus point. According to this, Hungary had the best voice
and accountability levels, especially in the mid 2000’s. Yet, if seen in terms of fluctuations
and change, it experienced the most decrease, particularly since 2004. Overall, the Czech
Republic is showing the most stability with regards to the extent of fluctuations in levels of
this indicator.

All three countries illustrated a low voter turnout on the national and on the EP levels. As it
might be expected, the voter turnout was the highest in 1990 (Hungary and Czechoslovakia)

Refer to the European Social Survey (ESS). (1.11.2009)

but the outcomes of the transformation and the performance of the political actors have left an
increasingly politically disengaged public. The election results are qualitatively valuable to
observe. In Hungary, social democrats have lost a large portion of support, and in Slovakia
support for the social-democrats has not only increased, but Smer is well ahead of other
competing parties. The support for social democrats in the Czech Republic has been
strengthened and the CSSD is ahead of the now governing ODS.

The degree of trust is low in all three countries for the three types of political authorities
analyzed. Yet, the largest change took place in Hungary. The degree of trust towards political
authorities is the most volatile in Hungary and with it the loyalty to a particular party.

Chapter II. Independent Variable 2: Social Imbalance

Especially during the times of an economic crisis, social balance gains increasingly in
importance. In almost all ex-socialist societies and economies there is an increased inequality
in distribution of income and wealth.147 After the fall of the communist regime, the
transformation that ensued across CEE – due to the nature of the process and the economic
and political changes that took place – changed the social structure of the states. Naturally,
owning to the “full-employment” strategy in the one-party states, with the transition to market
economy, unemployment, social security gaps and social imbalance in general became more
visible. Dieter Segert points out that every mass democracy without social balance will stay
politically instable.148 The assumption relating to the causal relationship between the IV1 and
the DV goes along these lines. In other words, a high degree of social imbalance causes a
degree of political instability. For the purposes of this paper, social imbalance refers to
regional disparities (within each state), income differences, employment opportunity
disparities, the gap between rich and poor, opportunities and access to education and health.

The indicators for the IV2 include unemployment and income inequality, measured across
different regions within the countries and across different sections of the society.

1. Unemployment

The rate of unemployment will reflect not only the economic state of a country, but also the
industrial capacities, regional disparities, and the degree of social imbalance. Considered is
the “natural” (long-term) rate of unemployment, as well as the cyclical movement of the rate
of unemployment.149 The data is sourced from mostly national statistical offices and the
International Labour Organization (ILO), as well as Eurequality reports.

2. Income Inequality

Income inequality is an important indicator as it directly illustrates the labor market outcome
not only the height of incomes, but more importantly how it is distributed within a society.
The wider the income gap and the distribution of the income, the higher the social imbalance

Schüsselbauer 2009:103.
Segert 2008:71.
Johnson/Layard 1986:921.

levels. Income statistics are drawn from national statistical offices and surveys and polls from
the ESS database.

3. Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic: Case Comparison of Independent
Variable 2

3.1 Unemployment

As in the most former communist countries, soon after 1989 many jobs were lost due to
privatization and restructuring measures. Seeing that joblessness is one of the key
determinants of poverty, the loss of many jobs had induced an increase in poverty rate(s) as
well. Since 1989, there has been a disappearance of over 20% of jobs. This has a large
influence on the system of stratification.150 In 2008, with regard to the unemployment levels,
the Hungarian Central Statistical Office made a note of the fact that Hungary still lags behind
the EU-27 (almost 8%).151 Between 1998 and 2007, the unemployment rate in 2006 (7.5%)
was the highest except in 1998.152 This strengthens the assumption that the current high
unemployment rates are not solely due to the economic crisis which recently had a large
impact on Hungary. Rather, other reasons exist which help explain the increase in
unemployment rate over the years. These are mainly related to structural issues.

Unemployment is not evenly distributed in the population. It affects youth in quite large terms
and it is becoming even more of a problem in the already economically depressed regions. 153
In a study, “48% of young people between 25-29 claimed to have had experienced
unemployment, but while only 31% of those living in Budapest did, 57-61% of those from the
Northern, North-Eastern part of Hungary did.”154 Furthermore, among the group of 20-24
year olds, the unemployment rate is twice the national average.155 In general, “the regional
differences in the labour market situation are invariably significant.” The employment rate is
the highest in Central Hungary (55.1%) and lowest in Northern Hungary (43%). 156
Unemployment increased more in the regions characterized by rather disadvantageous
situation.157 The unemployment rate gap between Central Hungary and Northern Hungary
(age-group 15-64) was 6.4 % in 1998 and by 2007 it increased to 7.5%.158
Fodor/Sata/Toth 2007:9.
Hungarian Central Statistical Office 8.5.2008.
Fodor/Sata/Toth 2007:10.
Ibid., pp.10.
Fodor/Sata/Toth 2007:10.
Refer to the Hungarian National Statistical Office. 7.10.2009.
Refer to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office 8.5.2008.

After the fall of communism, privatization in the Czech Republic was pretty quick. Early
industrial development and advanced infrastructure formed better economic conditions for
post-communist development. Parallel to the economic progress went the rise of work
productivity. Already in 1992 the individual businessmen (license holders) increased by
35%.159 Changes in sectoral structures (decrease of primary and secondary sectors, increase in
area of services et cetera) were reflected in long-term (natural) unemployment which is lower
in Czech Republic than in some other CEE countries. In 2001 unemployment was 9.2%.160
The unemployment rate in the 2nd quarter of 2009 was 6.3%, compared to the 2nd quarter of
2008 (4.2%).161 Unlike other transition economies (including Hungary and Slovakia),
registered unemployment in the Czech Republic did not rise dramatically (as in other
countries: from zero to double digits) at the beginning of the 1990s. This has something to do
with efficient labour market policies.162 However, throughout the mid –and latet 1990s, hen
unemployment rapidly increased. In 1994 it was 3.2%, in 1998 already 7.5%, in 2000 it
increased further to 8.8%.163 In 2003 the unemployment rate reached its highest point
(10.2%).164 Yet, it decreased again and even now – taking in account the economic crisis – the
unemployment rate is still not as high as it was in 2003.
According to the European Commission though, the Czech Republic is marked by a high
dispersion of unemployment rates.165 This means there are high labor market disparities. Still,
the regional differences in these disparities are not as high as in Hungary. The Czech Republic
is – with regards to the regional socio-economic development – one of the most homogenous
countries in Europe.166 This is also due to high population density, nivelization policies,
planned localization of production capacities and additional “social criteria”.167

Slovakia has a high long-term (natural) unemployment levely, in addition to a high level of
dispersion of unemployment rates which has increased. In contrast to the Czech Republic,
Slovakia’s sectoral restructuring resulted in a much higher unemployment rate in 2001
(16.4%).168 Even though both countries were at a considerably comparable levels of

Nekola/Machonin/Tucek 2006:8.
Ibid., pp.8.
Refer to the Czech Statistical Office. 2009.
Terrell/Sorm 1999:34.
Nesporova, A. Unemployment in the Transition Economies. In Economic Survey of Europe 2002, No.2. Chapter 3, pp.6.
Radio Praha 11.2.2003.
European Comission. Eurostat..6.11.2009
Nekola/Machonin/Tucek 2006:31.
Ibid., pp. 31.
Nekola/Machonin/Tucek, 2006:8.

development before and soon after the “Velvet Divorce”, there was a difference in
development of national economies. The unemployment rates are higher than in Hungary and
Czech Republic, not just cyclically, but long-term. In May 2009, the unemployment rate in
Slovakia was 11.1%.169 The number of non-qualified workers increased in Slovakia (from
from 28.6% in 1992 to 34.7% in 2001) and fell in Czech Republic (from 30.6% in 1992 to
28.3% in 2001). As a result, income differences will be higher between these two states.

Regional differences in unemployment range from “approximately 5% in Bratislava to as

much as 25% or more in the east and south of the country.” 170 Thus, similarly to Hungary,
there are noticeable regional discrepancies in employment. Additionally, a larger imbalance in
the labour market influences the possibilities of trade unions to negotiate.

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has measured the
performance of OECD countries for employment to population ratio for 2007. The Czech
Republic is rated in the middle four deciles, Hungary and Slovakia in the lowest three.171 The
change (arithmetic difference) in employment to population ration between 2003 and 2007
shows the following: the Czech Republic is still in the middle four deciles, Hungary is in the
bottom three deciles, and Slovakia has seen a positive adjustment (top three deciles of

Income Inequality

Especially during the first decade of the transformation process, “social inequality and
poverty” increased sharply in Hungary.173 This includes higher income inequality and
poverty rates. In 1987, the richest 10% of the population made “about 5 times as much as the
poorest,…this factor increased to 8 by 2003.”174 Another factor to consider when thinking
about income inequality is the increase among the wealthy (those living on over 200% of the
median national per capita household income, and at the same time increase among the poor
(those making less than 50% of the national median), which points to a decline in middle
categories/middle class.175 The post-communist change in the structure of the type of
Refer to the European Commission Eurostat 2008.
Refer to theEuropean Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions 9.10.2006.
Refer to OECD 2009:11.
Ibid., pp. 12.
Fodor/Sata/Toth 2007:4.
Ibid., pp. 4-5.
Ibid., pp.7.

workplace ownership (state or private) contributed to an unequal income distribution.
Generally, incomes earned in the state sector are higher those in the private sector, but since
the transformation there are less state-sector jobs. Yet, the highest job grades (for example
managers) earn less in a state paying job than in the private sector.176 Seeing that there less
jobs in the state sector, more in the private sector and the highest paying positions are in the
private sector, it follows that there will be a larger proportion of top earners in the private
sector than in the state sector. As a result, the gap in income inequality will widen. Important
to mention is that,

the depth of poverty experienced by the poor (the average difference between the
income of the poor and the poverty threshold)…ranged from 25-33% over the years,
but this is one indicator which exhibited growth over the past 5 years. In other
words, while there hasn’t been an increase in the size of the poor population, those
in poverty have become poorer, i.e., more distanced from the national average.177

The Gini Coefficient178 (measuring inequality levels) for mid-2000’s is the same for Czech
Republic and Slovakia (0.268), and is higher for Hungary (0.291).179 Poverty rates in the mid-
2000’s were the lowest for the Czech Republic (0.058), middle-level for Hungary (0.071) and
the highest for Slovakia (0.081).180 Comparing the poverty rates and the Gini Coefficient, it is
assumed that even though poverty rates in Hungary are lower than those in Slovakia, the
highest level of the Gini Coefficient in Hungary points towards higher inequality when it
comes to income distribution.

The data from the ESS supports this last assumption. To the statement “Government should
reduce differences in income levels”, the public in Hungary had the highest percentage in the
section “strongly agree” and the agreement with this statement increased within the years. In
2002, 40.4% strongly agreed (compared to Czech Republic 22.3%). In 2004, 50.6% strongly
agreed (compared to Czech Republic 28.5% and Slovakia 25.4%). In 2006, 53.4% strongly
agreed (compared to Slovakia 33.0%).181 Evidently, there is also an increase in the Czech
Republic and Slovakia with regards to the strength of the agreement with the statement,
however the levels are remarkably high in Hungary.
Ibid., pp.11.
Ibid., pp.12.
“The Gini coefficient is defined as the area between the Lorenz curve (which plots cumulative shares of the population,
from the poorest to the richest, against the cumulative share of income that they receive) and the 45° line, taken as a ratio of
the whole triangle. The values of the Gini coefficient range between 0, in the case of "perfect equality" (i.e. each share of the
population gets the same share of income), and 1, in the case of "perfect inequality" (i.e. all income goes to the individual
with the highest income).” Refer to OECD.
Refer to OECD, Society at Glance: OECD Social Indicators 2009.
Refer to the European Social Survey 2002, 2004 and 2006.

Slovakia and Hungary are specifically showing higher poverty rates and Gini Coefficients,
however the sentiment that the government should do something to reduce the social
imbalance is the highest in Hungary. Furthermore, according to a “Government
Responsibility” survey (Munich Society for the Promotion of Economic Research (CESifo
GmbH)),182 the population of Hungary thinks to the largest extent that the government should
take more responsibility to provide for the population. Between 1995-1998 38.3% thought so,
comparable to 29.2% in Slovakia and 18.2% in the Czech Republic.183

The situation is somewhat different in the Czech Republic than in Hungary concerning the
structures which evolved during the transformation period and that play a role for income
inequality and social imbalance. Beside the lower Gini Coefficient and lowest poverty rates
(in comparison to Hungary and Slovakia), the middle class in the Czech Republic plays a role
in stabilizing the socio-economic and political situation. The middle-class “by itself does not
generate resistance in public opinion”.184 Yet, even in the Czech Republic the polarization in
the social structure is stronger than it was in the period from 1939 to 1989.185 A “new high
class” (businesspeople, managers, bankers, politicians, certain part of lawyers, some popular
artists and sportsmen) has been established. Their acquiring of income exceeds the usual
system of meritocracy.186 In addition, there has emerged a class of an,

extremely poor part of population including not only homeless people and other
socially inadaptable groups, but as of 1998 also qualified workers from unpreferred
sectors or sectors affected by crisis, people whose salaries were withheld by their
employers and people unemployed over a long period of time.187

Consequently, the Czech Republic exhibits a class structure of the current capitalist societies.
Interestingly, public opinion polls have measured and registered “strong and unceasing
animosity against the newly emerging group of parvenus” and the first potential source of
social tensions listed was “wealth”.188 This corresponds to the cleavages discussed earlier and
the most important division lines around social welfare and market vs. state.

“How would you place your views on this scale? 1 means you agree completely with the statement on the left; 10 means
you agree completely with the statement on the right; and if your views fall somewhere in between, you can choose any
number in between. Sentences: “People should take more responsibility to provide for themselves vs. The government should
take more responsibility to ensure that everyone is provided for”. Response:1-10.” See Ifo Institute for Economic Research,
Tucek 2006: 17.
Ibid., pp. 17.
Ibid., pp.17.
Ibid., pp.17.
Ibid., pp.29.

Citizens in Slovakia are in general less content with the social situation than for example in
the Czech Republic. This applies to all areas examined (politics, economy, living standard,
overall situation).189 The level of income deprivation is higher in Slovakia than in the Czech
Republic. The highest income deprivation felt was among workers (26.6%) and unemployed
(29.4%), least so by entrepreneurs.190

As seen in the table below, Slovakia also illustrates the highest poverty rate in mid 2000’s.
There is a structural problem which, as has been explained in the unemployment section,
influences poverty levels due to the long-term natural unemployment rate. Even though
income distribution, according to the Gini Coefficient, is better than in Hungary, income
distribution according to poverty levels is worse than in Hungary.

Table 7. Summary of Income Distribution Data for mid-2000’s

Gini Coefficient Poverty Levels
Hungary 0.29 7.1
Czech Republic 0.27 5.8
Slovakia 0.27 8.1

Source: Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD)

4. Brief Summary of Case Comparison

Social imbalance is higher in Hungary and Slovakia. Unemployment in Hungary has

increased, and so have regional disparities, as well as income inequality. Income distribution
measured in Gini Coefficient is the highest in Hungary. Slovakia has a problem of high long-
term unemployment rates and higher poverty rates, however exhibits a lower Gini coefficient
than Hungary. Structural factors which make a more equal income distribution more difficult
in Hungary could play a role in the discrepancy between poverty levels and income
distribution. One of the explanations for the lowest poverty rates and a lower income
inequality in the Czech Republic, might be found in the fact that the middle-class is stronger
than in the other two countries. In the Czech case, the middle class holds the most stability. It
is an open question if an increase in the middle-class would also be a stabilizing factor in
Hungary and Slovakia, and/or what would happen if the middle-class shrinks in the Czech

Tucek 2006: 33.
Ibid., pp. 32.

Republic. However, if the gaps between the high income earners and low to extremely low
income earners keep increasing, as might be the case in Hungary, the proclivity to social
unrest is likely to correspondingly increase as well.

Chapter III. Degree of Political Stability (Dependent Variable): Case


1. Political Instability Indices191

According to various indices, political stability in Hungary has been deteriorating since 2007.
The EIU Political Instability Index192 (table 8) places Hungary in the category of “high risk”
countries. Hungary is in 83rd place, its instability score went up from 2.1 in 2007 to 6.1 for
2009/2010 (10 being “very high risk”). The economic distress for 2009/2019 is 8.0 and
underlying vulnerability is 4.2. 193 Thus, economic distress plays a role as an additional burden
on the government. Furthermore, if the government is not able to cope with this stress factor
either due to structural and already existent faults in the system, or due to low level of
responsiveness by implementing reforms, the political instability will be higher. Yet,
economic distress is not the direct factor, as it can been seen from the already discussed
Tables 1, 2 and 3 regarding voter turnout and election results (Diagrams 3 and 4), which show
a continuous decline in support over years and not just a sudden change in 2008 and 2009.

Table 8. EIU Political Instability Index for 2009/2010194 (Hungary)

Source: Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)

The WGI Indicator for Political Stability (for all three countries) is shown below in diagram 4
. In It is clearly visible that political stability in Hungary has deteriorated and is the lowest in
2008. A larger rise in stability was marked in 1998, when the center-right Fidesz won the
elections, however it soon dropped again. It rose substantially in 2002 and 2003, after which it
weakened to reach its low in 2008. The social democrats (MSZP) won the elections in 2002
against the previously governing (1998-2002) center-right Fidesz. These changes illustrate,
Indices is used as a plural for “Index” instead of indexes.
The Political Instability Index shows the level of threat posed to governments by social protest. The index scores are
derived by combining measures of economic distress and underlying vulnerability to unrest. The index covers the period
2009/10, and scores are compared with results for 2007.
Refer to the Economist Intelligence Unit.. Political Instability Index. Index Vulnerability to Social and Political Unrest.
The first column shows the country rank, the second underlying instability, the third economic distress, the fourth
political instability score, and the last political instability score for 2007.

that the continuity and persistence of pattern in a political system, as one of the criteria for
(democratic) political stability according to Eckstein, is not given in a rather volatile system.
The Fidesz government did not show desired responsiveness and performance, thus it was
voted off. The MSZP won the elections twice in a row (2002 and 2006), however due to their
inability to deal with some key issues (discussed in Chapter I) the prognosis for winning the
election in 2010 is rather bleak.

Diagram 5. Political Stability Indicator 1996-2008 (WGI)

Source: Kaufmann, D.; Kraay A.; Mastruzzi M.: Governance Matters VIII. Governance Indicators 1996–2008.

The Political Capital Institute and weekly Figyelő have also noted that political risk has
continued to increase in the past 18 months195. The political risk index (PRI) in 2007 was 66,
and 68 in 2008/09.

The PRI values are shown in the in Table 9 below. PRI was the highest (meaning political risk
the lowest) in 2003 and 2008-2009 illustrates the highest political risk.196

Table 9. Political Risk Index Values for Hungary (2003-2008/2009)

Refer to the Political Capital Institute and weekly Figyelő. Political Risk increased
further in Hungary. 3.6.2009.
Ibid., Pp.1.

Year 2007 2008-
2003 2004 2005 2006
PRI 71 68 70 66 66 64

Source: Political Capital Institute

With regards to political instability, the Political Capital Institute writes that,

Following the resignation of the minority government and the formation of the new
administration, Hungary continues to be characterized by political instability. If, despite a
persistently unfavourable political climate, the Bajnai-Cabinet is able to govern more
effectively, it may complete the current term with less than one year to go. However, the
outcome of the European Parliamentary election and the autumn budget debate may be
crucial, and it cannot be ruled out that following the EP election the slim parliamentary
majority behind the prime minister will disappear, resulting in an early election. 197

According to the Political Stability Indicator in Diagram 5, the degree of political stability in
the Czech Republic was the highest in 1996 and the lowest (50th-75th percentile) in 2000. An
increase in the degree of political stability, with fluctuations in 2004 and 2005, has been
marked up to 2008.

The EUI (Table 10) displays a much better ranking for Czech Republic than for Hungary. In
the Czech Republic, the two sub-indicators are lower (4.0 for “economic distress” and 4.0 for
“underlying vulnerability”).

Table 10. EIU Political Instability Index for 2009/2010 (Czech Republic)

Source: Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)

In contrast to Hungary, whose last two years (2008 and 2007 show lower percentiles of
political stability), political stability in Slovakia, according to the WGI rose in 2007 and
2008. However, if the WGI indicator is observed over a longer period of time, it is quite
visible that overall, Slovakia is illustrating the most political instability, as it has the most

Ibid., Pp. 2.

amount of years within the 50th-75th percentile. The EUI ranking (Table 11) places Slovakia
in the middle, between Hungary and Czech Republic. Yet, an “underlying instability” is larger
in Slovakia than in Hungary, even though Hungary had been ranked with a high risk of
political instability. Therefore, it can be assumed that economic distress is an important stress
factor on the political authorities.

Table 11. Political Instability Index for 2009/2010 (Slovakia)

Source: Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)

The overall higher political instability in Slovakia indicates the need to observe the levels of
political stability across a longer period of time – particularly as there may be some stimuli
(for example economic distress) that cause a short-term increase in some political instability
scores. However, the underlying instability (structural and governance) –play a long-term role
in affecting political stability.

2. Public Protest Events (Violent and Non-Violent)

Beside the political instability indices, public protest events – violent and non-violent – is
another important indicator. It shows a presence of latent, or in some cases manifest social
unrest. Outlined below are public protest events that took place/are scheduled to take place in
Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia.198

In Hungary, connecting to the quotation by Political Capital (regarding the autumn budget)
above, following the presented autumn budget for 2010, thousands protested on October 10th,
2009 against the 2010. The budget “allows for further cuts to central government spending of
some HUF 400 billion (EUR 1.48 billion).” 199 Here included are funding cuts for local
As there is no particular index for this indicator, most of the information has been retrieved from news agencies by using
text analysis.
Refer to Budapest Times 12.10.2009.

governments. The protest was organized by Fidesz, which according to the polls will win the
2010 election in April or May and intends to rewrite the 2010 budget if it comes to power.
This protest, ”aims to stop what the party [Fidesz] says is the ‘most dangerous budget in the
past 20 years’ and will endanger social services.”200 If so, this may increase the possibility of
social unrest. Considering that Gordon Bajnai’s socialist-backed interim government already
cut government spending since taking office in April 2009, the new budget 2010 is making
for some burning debate and could potentially cause social unrest.

Over the past years, continuous protests (demonstrations, riots) took place. The appointment
of Gordon Bajnai as the PM in April 2009, replacing Ferenc Gyurcsany, was followed by
protests in April 2009 in Budapest . Several thousand people protested and the anti-
government demonstrators demanded “that parliament be dissolved and an early election

In December 2008, radical right demonstrated against Slovakia’s policies towards


On March 15, 2007 around 100,000 people rallied demanding the Socialist prime minister
(Ferenc Gyurcsany) resign. Police and rioters clashed.203

Farmer demonstrations took place over three days in Eastern Hungary in July 2007. The
farmers demanded compensation for lost revenues.204

In September 2007, far-right protesters ahead of the 51st anniversary of 1956 uprising, were
dispersed by riot police using tear gas and water cannon.

In October 2006, “violent anti-government protests in Budapest overshadow 50th

anniversary commemorations of the 1956 uprising against Soviet rule.”205 There is still an
uncertainty about what the 1956 anti-Soviet uprisings meant and how these are to be

In September 2006, violence erupted as thousands have rallied in Budapest to demand the
resignation of Prime Minister Gyurcsany. He had admitted that his government had lied
Refer to Reuters: Thousands Protest Against Hungary’s 2010 Budget. 10.10.2009.
Refer to BBC: Protests as Hungary PM sworn in. 14.4.2009.
Refer to MTIE. Radical right demonstrates against Slovakia's policies towards Hungarians. 1.12.2008.
Refer to New York Times. Rally in Hungary. 16.3.2007.
Refer to MIT-EcoNews. Farmer demonstration ends in E Hungary. 27.7.2009
Refer to Timeline: Hungary 17.8. 2009.

during the election campaign.206 BBC noted that these riots might have been the worst in
decades but furthermore these protests have much more deeper economic and political

In July 2002, demonstrators in Budapest demanded of the government not to destroy ballots
from the elections in April 2002, as these should be recounted due to election fraud. Analysts
pointed out that these demonstrations are not a direct threat to investment, but that political
tensions are rising. They noted that problems could occur if the disturbances continue in the
country. 208

Nationalist sentiments in Hungary did not start only recently with the economic crisis, even
though this situation amplified these sentiments. Four rallies took place in 2001, where the
Hungarian Revisionist Movement demanded the restoration of Hungarian borders.209

The numerous protests mentioned above are not just – in their number – but also due to their
continuity an indication of political instability.

In the Czech Republic, the protests are less in number and as a rule not as violent as in

In 2009, the following have taken place or are scheduled to take place:

• December: farmers plan a demonstration in Prague to protest against lower budget for
agriculture for next year.210
• October: farmers protested low milk prices.211
• October: Czech Roma female activists demonstrated against increasing intolerance
and racism in Prague.212
• October: supporters of far-right parties and movements protested against police
crackdown on extremists.213
• September: demonstration against the position of Pope Benedict XVI.214

Refer to BBC. Economic woes fan Hungarian riot fires. 19.9.2009
Refer to Interfax. Demonstrations not a Threat to Investment, but Political Tensions Rising, say Analysts. 22.7.2002.
Refer to BBC Monitoring European. Rally demanding restoration of Greater Hungary held in Budapest. 4.9.2001.
Refer to CTK Business News. Farmers to demonstrate in Prague against low prices. 10.11.2009.
Refer to CBS. Czech Farmers Protest Low Milk Prices. 29.10.2009.
Refer to Prague Daily Monitor. Czech women protest against racism in Prague. 24.10.2009.
Refer to CTK Daily News. Dozens of Czech extremists protest against police crackdown. 21.10.2009.
Refer to BBC Monitoring Newsfile. Protest against Pope's approach to condoms held in Czech capital. 28.9.2009.

• June: Rallies staged in towns in support of detained far-right activists.215
• June: Farmers block traffic in seven regions in a protest against low purchase prices of
• May: around 20,000 Czech and foreign trade unionists protested in against the
threatened erosion of workers' rights by governments and businesses.217

In November 2008, more than 500 supporters of the far-right Worker’s Party clashed with
police in a march on a Roma suburb.218

In June 2007, while US President George Bush was visiting, hundreds protested against US
plans for a radar base near Prague (it would have been part of a missile defense shield).219

In January 2001, “the biggest street protests since the overthrow of Communism and a strike
by journalists lead to the resignation of Jiri Hodac as director-general of state television.
Hodac is widely seen as a political appointee and accused of compromising editorial

In Slovakia, the intensity and number of public protest events is primarily lower than in
Hungary.221 Protest events concerned with nationalistic issues seem to predominate. The
following protest events, among others, have taken place over the course of the years:

In November 2009, an anti-government rally in Bratislava with regards to corruption

scandals222 took place.

The same year in September, a demonstration was organized by the far-right Slovak
Togetherness “ in protest against crime allegedly soaring among Romanies.”223

Refer to BBC Monitoring European. Rallies staged in three Czech towns in support of detained far-right activists. 12.06.
Refer to CTK Business News. Czech farmers block traffic over milk prices in seven regions. 29.6.2009.
Refer toReuters. Unions protest in Prague over economic crisis. 16.05.2009.
Refer to Reuters. UPDATE 1-Czech rightists clash with police, 14 hurt. 17.11.2008.
Refer to BBC Timeline. Czech Republic. 16.9.2009.
The number of research results gave a smaller amount of news titles with the following search terms: protest, riot, rally,
Refer to TASR. Around Hundred People Hold Anti-government Rally in Bratislava. 7.11.2009.
Refer to BBC Monitoring European. About 400 attend protest against alleged Romany crime in Slovakia. 5.9.2009.

In August 2009 an Anti-Romany demonstration in East Slovakia224 took place and a day later
a Candle demonstration condemning attacks against Roma (organized by the Roma Initiative)
was organized. 225

In March 2008, nationalists demonstrated against Kosovo’s independence. 226

In February 2004, police and troops were brought in to end rioting by Romany population
protesting against cuts in benefits in parts of eastern Slovakia.

In 2006 a strike by doctors and nurses over pay and sell-offs in the health-care sector was
intervened in by the Court.

3. Brief Summary: Dependent Variable Case Comparison

The EUI Index and the WGI political stability indicator both point to an increased political
instability in Hungary. Since the mid-2000’s stability has diminished, 2008 and 2009 being
the most unstable years (see also the PRI values). The Czech Republic is the most stable
according solely to the EIU and WGI indicators, even though 2000 and 2004 the instability
was higher than in Hungary. Political stability in Slovakia is the weakest when considered
long-term. Seven years show levels under the 75th percentile.

Public protest events as such do not mean that political stability in any country is completely
shaken, as: 1) protest events take place in Western democracies as well, without a noticeable
increase in political instability, and 2) a these events are an element of political participation
and the way for the population to express political power. However, the intensity and
frequency of the events above, taking in consideration the context in the CEE countries, is
illustrative of a certain degree of political instability. According to this indicator, all of the
countries have seen protest events, demonstrations and strikes over a longer period of time.
Nevertheless, those in Hungary are the most violent and of the biggest in proportion. In the
Czech Republic a large demonstration took place in 2001, however the frequency of such
bigger demonstrations is lower than in Hungary. Thus this indicator would point towards an
elevated level in political instability in Hungary.

Chapter IV: Interaction of Variables, Evaluation and Conclusion

Refer to BBC Monitoring European. Police disperse anti-Romany demonstration in east Slovakia. 8.8.2009.
Refer to SITA. Roma Initiative Organizes Candle Demonstration to Condemn Attacks . 9.8.2009.
Refer to TASR. Nationalists Demonstrate on Behalf of Serbia's Right to Kosovo. 5.3.2008.

Interaction of Variables

The EUI political instability index for the DV show the most underlying instability for
Slovakia (5.0), the lowest for Czech Republic (3.3) and a middle score for Hungary (4.2).
However, economic distress (recently owing to the global financial crisis) is the highest in
Hungary (8.0) and the lowest in Czech Republic (4.0). With regards to the IV1, Hungary has
been worsening in terms of government effectiveness and voice and accountability, and has
been going through the largest change within a shorter period of time when it comes to the
degree of trust in political authorities. As a result, it can be said that the degree of
responsiveness of the political authorities is – at least since the mid-2000’s – the lowest in
Hungary. The indicators (government effectiveness and voice and accountability) illustrate
and correspond with this assessment. When the political authorities do not deal well with
stimuli such as economic distress, do not take the demands (policy and social reform issues)
into account, do not distance themselves from populist rhetoric and show an increased
polarization between different political camps, then the indicators show a negative direction
of the degree of responsiveness. In Slovakia, the long-term political stability correlates with
the long-term government effectiveness indicator. Taking the DV values for all three
countries and comparing them with corresponding values of the IV1, which are considerably
more negative for Hungary and Slovakia, it can be said that the hypothesis (1): The lower the
degree of responsiveness of political authorities, the higher the degree of political
instability, is thus for the most part confirmed. Yet, there is a crucial point to consider that
would at this point require an adjustment in the hypothesis.

Looking at long-term results, further than the last three to five years, instability levels for
Slovakia would mean that the degree of UV1 – if the hypothesis is to be validated – would
also be long-term the lowest of all three countries. This is partly the case as the legitimacy
indicators also show. A crucial point then is the structural framework of a political system that
– when taking the systems theory in consideration – if not properly functioning will not be
able to respond well to any stimuli and thus increase the levels of instability within a country.
This means that the underlying vulnerability (structural factors) in Slovakia definitely affect
political stability in the long-run. However, the reasons for a higher instability in Hungary are
among others, the lack of flexibility (see Sandschneider), the inability of the political

authorities to adjust to arising stimuli, respond to demands and inputs, and reduce the tension
between political camps.

As expected, Czech Republic – in comparison to Hungary and Slovakia - has the highest
degree of responsiveness of political authorities and the corresponding lowest degree of
political instability.

Eckstein’s criteria for political stability that play a particular role in this analysis are: a) the
persistence of pattern (capability to adjust to changing conditions and holding fast
allegiances) and effective decision-making. These proved to resonate with the country cases
analyzed. The criteria are shown to be weak in IV1, especially for Hungary and Slovakia. The
persistence of pattern (including adaptability and holding on to allegiances) seems to be a
particular problem in Hungary. The political system, and particularly the political party
system exhibits volatility and the decision-making is consequently ineffective. In Slovakia,
structural barriers, as most of the issues are on a long-term basis, inhibit not only a stability
(persistence of pattern), but also allow for some rather peculiar government coalitions.

The adjustment to the first hypothesis would thus be:

The lower the degree of responsiveness of political authorities in a structurally vulnerable

political system, the higher the degree of political instability.

Easton’s model of a dynamic political system, combined with Eckstein’s approach to political
stability is very useful when looking at the particular relationships within a democratic
political system. The criteria that Eckstein sets can be fulfilled if the, according to Easton’s
model, the input-output balance functions.

As regards to the IV2 (social imbalance), the highest long-term unemployment as in Slovakia
will presumably affect social and therefore also political stability – if not now – then within
the course of time. Similarly to IV1, Hungary had experienced a rise in unemployment in the
past few years, particularly since the global economic crisis, which has also been a case due to
the structure of the very export oriented Hungarian economy (→ Annex). Yet, income
distribution seems to be a larger problem in Hungary, so this fact and the fact that more
Hungarian citizens than Czech or Slovak (as seen in the results of surveys and polls) would

expect the government to reduce income inequality is reflected in the indicator of the
dependent variable (public protest events). The question however is why, if Slovakia has
long-term high unemployment rates, protest levels (particularly relating to socio-economic
issues) are not more numerous and more intense, not to a larger degree against the minority
groups, but also against the political authorities? It could be: 1) that instead of large protests
against the government, the dire socio-economic conditions increase nationalist sentiments
(and the nationalist parties are part of the momentarily governing coalition); 2) that the
income inequality (lower Gini Coefficient) has not reached the crucial point which would
demand public protest; and 3) the blame for difficult socio-economic conditions is placed
upon minority groups, not government.

The theory of relative deprivation does not to its full extent apply here, seeing that the factors
such as employment, income and poverty should move the population to express their
demands towards the political authorities. The perception of inequality is – according to the
discussed IV2 above – higher in Hungary than in Slovakia, even though the difference in
numbers (Gini Coefficient) is not large.

This means that the hypothesis (2): The higher the degree of social imbalance, the higher the
degree of political instability; cannot be fully confirmed. There is a correlation, as it can be
seen in the case of Hungary and the number and intensity of protest events, yet these are also
not only concerned with questions of social imbalance, but also with questions along the
already mentioned conflict line (communist/anti-communist). Worthy of note is that an
already existent social imbalance in this case and in the case of Slovakia, in order to strongly
affect political stability would need a catalyzing element (for example nationalist parties,
organizations, figures) to use the social inequality as an instrument for accomplishing
populist-framed political goals. Unfortunately, these actors have already entered the stage in
both countries. For others, for example the trade unions, it is hard to organize as in Slovakia
and in countries like Hungary these have lost a large amount of trust and support, due to their
close relation to the socialist ideology. The theory of relative deprivation is possibly not quite
applicable to countries analyzed here, rather to more underdeveloped countries with a non-or
less developed market economy. Important to consider is the fact that Hungary, Czech
Republic and Slovakia are members of the EU, which of course has in interest in the stability
of these countries.
Evaluation and Conclusion

The aim of this paper was to analyze possible causes (IVs) of the variation in the degree of
political in/stability in CEE, particularly Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia. The research
and the final result have provided insight in the causes for this variation, as well as raised
some new questions.

First important is that the countries compared are democracies and thus the criteria (Eckstein)
for political stability differ from those for non-democratic or hybrid countries. The framework
for analyzing political stability has hence been given by Easton’s dynamic model of a political
system where the input-output balance plays a key role in ensuring the criteria for political
stability are fulfilled and the system is not endangered. IV1 (responsiveness of political
authorities) takes up a valuable place within this theory, as these authorities are dealing with
demands, inputs and are producing outputs (policies, decisions). Herewith, political
authorities play a regulative role. Their ‘performance’ is measured by the degree of legitimacy
they have within the population. The results have clearly shown that legitimacy is rather on a
downward direction in the region, with a variation between the countries. This points to a
problem regarding the way political authorities are shaping their responses towards various
endogenous and exogenous factors.

The fascinating part about the results are some unexpected elements that have come up in the
course of the analysis and have so influenced the results. This makes the analysis of political
in/stability rather complex, especially in democracies, where the manifest onset of political
instability is almost completely absent. These elements that render the task rather intricate
include the political culture in CEE, historical background (transformation plays a larger role
in setting some of the conditions), cleavages, cultural considerations et cetera. In spite of this,
due to the scope of this paper all of these elements could have not been discussed in very
poignant detail or not at all. Reflecting back, they have played a role in the process of looking
at some of the factors from a different point of view. Additionally, political party system(s)
would have proved to be a suitable conditional variable, yet the study would be blown out of
proportion if more than one to three independent variables and a dependent variable would
have been discussed. Why the party system was not used as an independent variable is for the
following reasons: 1) there have been numerous studies on party systems influencing political
stability, and 2) political authorities is a much more encompassing term, including parties
(but not only) and also the way these function.

Consequently, more than two IVs would have proved to be too much, as the paper included
three countries and was focused on a combination of a quantitative and qualitative analysis.
Even so, with the amount of information available, it was a demanding task to separate the
necessary from that which could possibly be suitable for a different, future study.

IVs reflects a significant issue, not only related to any time and any country, but particularly
so of an importance in CEE and the future development in individual countries. It could
influence political stability, if the empirical conditions fit the “relative deprivation theory”,
however the acquired result deviated somewhat from the expectations at the beginning of the
study and proved to an extent paradoxical out of the following reason. Slovakia had pointed
toward higher social imbalance (higher unemployment and poverty levels), with naturally
some differences between the years, yet this did not correspond with the EIU political
instability index, but it did to a large extend correspond with the WGI political stability
indicator. The reason for this proved to be the observation over a certain period of time. Using
a larger time-span did not only help sort out latent factors that might have/did play a role, but
it would have been a mistake with regards to the results if a shorter time-span was used. It
(longer time-span) proved to be imperative point for the whole analysis.

Because of the observation framework (with regards to time), it can be concluded that
Hungary is more susceptible to sudden intervening elements (economic crisis, Gyrscany
“lying speech”, et cetera) which indicates that the political authorities: a) do not have the
systems in place to deal and respond to these factors, b) volatile and polarized political
landscape has much to do with the low responsiveness, c) population is disengaged with the
political elite. Therefore, political instability (according to indices in Chapter II) is
momentarily higher in Hungary than in Slovakia and Czech Republic. Nevertheless, it is
debatable if overall Hungary has a higher degree of political instability than Slovakia.

At the beginning of the analysis, the expectation was that Hungary will show a much larger
variation in political instability (which according to EIU it did), than Slovakia. It was
surprising to observe that Slovakia is also quite instable, however with other elements causing
the lower EIU scores. Clearly, the data for the Czech Republic has illustrated a higher degree
of political stability which closely corresponds to the data of both IVs. Yet, the Czech
Republic might (in the future) not prove as stable as the indices point to now. This depends on
the way the cleavages are dealt with. Given, it makes it more simple to deal with these due to

a large extent ethnically homogenous nature of the country, but a combination of the
following few factors could make the country more instable: the increasing capitalist
development, “wealth” being an issue that is on top of the list people would consider as a
potential source of social unrest, in addition to an increase government volatility and a
foreseeable growing economic disparity in the population.

Lastly, one fundamental point to mention that fills in between the criteria for political
stability, is the relationship between the populace and the political authorities and elite.
Indicators in IV1 have shown that the disillusionment with the politics and its elite has led to
very little support and trust. For a democratically framed society, political participation,
support and trust are key to ensure the relationship noted here functions. Political parties are a
substantial element of a democratically formulated political system. These perform a
communication role, represent different interest groups and offer a variety of political choices.
Therefore, they are functionally invaluable, as is an effective civil society. At the moment,
CEE is at a decisive point, twenty years after officially starting the transformation process.
Yet, the (unofficial) transformation is not yet finished, it is ongoing. “In other words, the
transformation process …continues in a new era, with new people and new instruments.”227


Hatala 2009.


a) Region and Country Information

1. Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)

The definition of “Central and Eastern Europe” in a narrow sense refers to Rumania, Poland,
the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia), Czechoslovakia (since 1993 Czech Republic
and Slovakia) and Hungary. However, in a wider sense included are Ukraine, Belarus, former
Yugoslav countries, Bulgaria and even Greece as “Border peoples of the Occident”
(Halecki).228 The difficulty of defining the region depends on its transforming nature, its
history and perspective of individual states. For the purposes of this paper, the above
mentioned narrow definition is used, and to simplify the problem of defining CEE, Jan Kren
to the most part embraces “the view that Central Europe is the area lying between the German
border – wherever it happens to be – and the territory of the former Soviet Union. This
roughly comprises Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.”229 Thus when talking
about CEE, here meant are primarily these countries, even though the analysis does not
include Poland.

Important to mention when talking about CEE is the Visegrad group (Czech Republic,
Slovakia, Hungary and Poland) created originally in 1991. The purpose was to mutually
“focus on regional activities and initiatives aimed at strengthening the identity of the Central
European region.”230 Yet, Bronisław Geremek had explained that the Group did not
experience the success anticipated at first, as one of the major points is that the economies are
not complementary, rather these are in competition.231 This is an interesting position to
consider for the future of the regional cooperation. The Visegrad states are members of the
EU and NATO. Often there is a tendency to write about CEE as if it was one country, without
depicting the differences between those. The following short portrait (necessary and basic
information) should thus try to clarify the individual elements (mostly related to
politics/political landscape) of each state. The factual information below, unless otherwise
indicated, is drawn from the CIA World Factbook232 as it is updated regularly.

Meyers Grosses Universal Lexikon. Band 1984:366.
Fehér 2007:137.
Declaration of Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Poland and the Slovak
Republic on cooperation of the Visegrád Group countries after their accession to the European Union (12.5.2004), European
Navigator. Accessed. 24.11.2009.
Refer to the Interview with Bronisław Geremek, 11.6.2008.
Refer to the CIA World Factbook.

2. Country Information

1) Hungary
Total area of Hungary is 93,028 sq km, with a population of 9,905,596 (July 2009 est.). Urban
population makes up 68% of the total population. The ethnic composition is made up of
92.3% Hungarian, 1.9% Roma, 5.8% other or unknown. Hungary is a parliamentary
democracy, with the current President President Laszlo Solyom (since 5 August 2005) and
Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai (since 20 April 2009). The members of the unicameral
National Assembly are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. The system is that of
proportional and direct representation.

After the fall of the communist regime, Hungary went through a transformation from a
centrally-planned to a market economy. 80% of the GDP accounts to the private sector. The
foreign investment has been quite widespread since 1989. The inability of the government to
service its debt induced an assistance package (from IMF) of over $25 billion. Hungary has
been experiencing negative growth in 2009 due to the economic crisis, decreased demand for
Hungarian goods and low domestic consumption. Hungary’s primary exporting partner is
Germany ( 26.5%), then Italy 5.4%, Romania 5.3%, Austria 4.9%, Slovakia 4.7%, France
4.7%, UK 4.5%, Czech Republic 4% (2008).

2) Czech Republic
Through a peaceful “Velvet Revolution” Czechoslovakia regained its independence from the
Soviet bloc. Soon after (January 1993) Czechoslovakia underwent a “velvet divorce” and split
into two states Czech Republic and Slovakia. The total area is 78,867 sq km with a population
of 10,211,904 (July 2009 est.). According to the 2001 census, the ethnic composition is the
following: Czech 90.4%, Moravian 3.7%, Slovak 1.9%, other 4%. The population in the
country is not very religious (Roman Catholic 26.8%, Protestant 2.1%, other 3.3%,
unspecified 8.8%, unaffiliated 59% ). Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy. Since
2003, the President is Vaclav Klaus and the Prime Minister (since April 2009) is Jan Fischer.
Czech Republic has a bicameral Parliament which consists of the Senate (members elected by
popular vote for a six-year term) and the Chamber of Deputies whose members are elected by
popular vote for a term of four years.

With regards to economic stance, Czech Republic has an open investment climate and thus
has also had a successful transition from centrally planned economy to a market economy.
56.2% of the labor force is in the services sector, 40.2% in industry and 4.6% in agriculture.
Czech economy is very export-driven, but due to the global economic crisis the demand for
Czech exports in Western Europe dropped. Thus the economy contracted in 2009. Exporting
partners include Germany (30.6%), Slovakia( 9.2%), Poland (6.5%), France (5.3%) and other
Western European countries. 52% of the exports are machinery and transport equipment.

3) Slovakia

Slovakia is a parliamentary democracy with the surface area of 49,035 sq km and a population
size of 5,463,046 (July 2009 est.). According to the 2001 census, ethnic composition is as
follows: Slovak 85.8%, Hungarian 9.7%, Roma 1.7%, Ruthenian/Ukrainian 1%, other and
unspecified 1.8%. Main religion is Roman Catholic (68.9%), followed by Protestant (10.8%),
Greek Catholic (4.1%), other or unspecified 3.2%, and none 13%. Current (since 2004)
President is Ivan Gasparovic and Prime Minister since 2006 is Robert Fico. The President is
elected by a popular vote for a five-year term. The members of the unicameral National
Council of the Slovak Republic are elected on the basis of proportional representation for a
four-year term.

Slovakia adopted the Euro in January 2009. Most of the labor force is in services (56.9%),
39% in industry and 4% in agriculture. Strongest export partners are Germany (20%), Czech
Republic (13.1%), (France 6.7%), Poland (6.6%), Hungary (6.3%) and other Western
European states. The commodities exported are: vehicles 25.9%, machinery and electrical
equipment 21.3%, base metals 14.6%, chemicals and minerals 10.1%, plastics 5.4%.

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