"Post-Communism" – Example Political Science Literature Review and Research Design

Note: This is part of an example political science literature review and research design. An abstract and table of contents are also available.

A useful segue between geographic and ex-Communist factors is found in Teune (1995). Teune surveys the rise of local governments relative to centralizing governments, using the declining influence of Moscow over eastern Europe and Russia as examples. In contrast to Williams who sees local differences as a cause for oppression and autocracy, Teune sees local power as very strong and democratic. Territoriality matters, says Teune, “even after the gradual opening of national borders in the second half of the twentieth century and the near encapsulation of the entire world in a single trading system.” Additionally, territorially based localities lean democratic.

The linkage between local government and democracy is based on the proposition that political participation is meaningful insofar as it deals with the familiar, a tenet of the Federalist Papers. Another aspect of this argument is that the incentives for participation are stronger locally than nationally in that visible consequence are more visible and immediate on the local level. There are two supporting propositions for this part of the argument: the larger the political unit, the longer it takes to form a democratic political coalitions; and the larger the unit, the greater the diversity of the groups and individuals required for compromise, the less likely decisive action will be taken at all, frustrating the collective aspirations of the many.” (Teune)

Teune’s argument thus runs counter to the thesis of this study. Elsewhere in this article, Teune combines these factors with technological change and connectivity in a way which implies greater communication with the outside world will retard democratic evolution. Specifically, he argues that the more diverse the influences on a population, the harder it will be to form a governing coalition and accomplish anything meaningful. In Teune’s eyes, this undermines democracy and the intent of the federalist papers. However, Teune’s conclusion here is far from universal; it famously contradicts Madison (1787).

More narrowly, Duch (1995) examines the observed behavior of post-Communist in maintaining economic and political development. Specifically, Duch examined how fragile economic progress was in a democratically progressing states. For example, if a new post-Communist democracy experienced steep economic decline, would its democracy level also fall accordingly? Duch’s surprising answer is no:

In the early reform period, perceptions of a declining economy promoted support for both free markets and Democracy in the former Soviet Union. And while there is some evidence in Latin America supporting the association of economic crisis and coups d’etat, the recent wave of democratization in Latin America during a period of economic crisis challenges this economic determinism argument). Political experience of the 1980s indicates that, even in Latin American countries facing serious economic and political crises, citizen attachments to democracy institutions are not undermined by acute economic crisis. Also challenging conventional wisdom, Zimmerman in Sallfeld present European historical evidence for the 1930s suggesting that economic chaos had little direct or indirect effect on the survival of democratic regimes in that period. And while many students of Eastern and Central European democratization have argued that political and economic reforms are seriously threatened by the economic chaos that has accompanied the reform process, the reforms are proving resilient.

Duch’s perspective informs this study. Because economic and political progress do not have to be correlated (that is, democratic progress can continue while economic decline is experienced), both are meaningful dependent variables. More troublesome, it also raises questions of whether the economic deprivation of being landlocked would negatively effect democratic development; if this is true, the central idea of this study is negated.

Mishler and Rose (1994) explore six Eastern European countries: Bulgaria, the old Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Slovenia, as well as Austria to examine the stability of democracy several years after the end of Communism. They use the “New Democracies Barometer,” a “multinational survey of post-Communist countries of central and eastern Europe” to provide a standard gauge of democratic norms in those states. Assuming a strong relationship between economic growth and access to the sea, at least one of Mishler’s and Rose’s findings should support the thesis that landlocked ex-Communist states will have less economic and political development:

Arguably the most cosmopolitan citizens in the survey include the very small number in each country (less than 15% overall) who — whatever other identities they might have — also think of themselves as Europeans. European identifiers are significantly more likely to be Confident Supporters [of parliamentary government] than Hopeful Authoritarians, by a ratio of more than 5:1. These individuals also have higher educations and incomes.

At the same time, however, the lack of statistical significance and widespread support of democracy in many areas imply that the relationship will not be found, as they write:

The data confirms that members of traditional subgroups, including older citizens, residents of smaller towns and rural areas, and those with strong religious ties, are more likely to support the suspension of parliament. However, these relationships are consistently weak and inconsistently significant. Even among groups whose opposition to parliament is strongest, the majority of citizens are Confident Supporters and less than one-quarter are Hopeful Authoritarians. The largest difference in these regards are those associated with church attendance… however, even among frequent church attendees, Confident Supporters outnumber Hopeful Authoritarians by more than 2:1 (52% to 21%).

Besides the Eastern European ex-Communist states, this analysis will also examine the former soviet socialist republics in Central Asia. It is assumed that the trend between connectedness to the sea and development will be further shown here, as the Central Asian states are all landlocked.

As the plight of the Central Asian states were specifically mentioned by Haussman in the comment that inspired this study, seeing whether their economic and democratic development correlates with their landlocked status will be interesting.

Minnesota Gubernatorial Candidate: Impale Terrorists on State-House Lawn

Vampire Candidate ‘Won’t Hide Evil Side’,” Associated Press, 12 January 2005, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,181501,00.html (hat-tip to Brendan of I Hate Linux).

While some political scientists argue that terrorists should be covered under the Geneva Conventions, a far wiser suggestion comes from the state that asked child abusers to kill their victims:

One gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota is giving a whole new meaning to the “dark side” of politics. A man who calls himself a satanic priest plans to run for governor on a 13-point platform that includes the public impaling of terrorists at the state Capitol building.

Jonathon Sharkey, also known as “The Impaler”, plans to launch his gubernatorial campaign on — when else? — Friday the 13th. He’ll make the announcement in Princeton.

“I’m going to be totally open and honest,” said the 41-year-old leader of the “Vampyres, Witches and Pagans Party.”

Unlike other candidates, I’m not going to hide my evil side,” he said.

In Minnesota, anyone who pays the $300 filing fee can get on the gubernatorial ballot and it seems that every year a few eccentric candidates make the rounds.

Sharkey raises the bar. For one thing, he told the Star Tribune in an e-mail that he drinks blood.

Including the impaling of terrorists, rapists, drug dealers and other criminals, Sharkey’s platform includes emphasis on education, tax breaks for farmers and better benefits for veterans.

No to Terrorism
No to God
YES! to Sharkey the Impaler

Sharkey said he worships Lucifer and, while he says he has nothing against Christians, he calls the “Christian God the Father” his “mortal enemy.”

While I oppose his destroy-God-ism, I do support his impaling-bin-Laden-ism.

Certainly Sharkey is as sensisble as this nut.

Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey for Governor of Minnesota – 2006

Update: Arrested. Hat-tip Kos.