Career patterns and political performance of Prime Ministers in Central East European Democracies

Project: Research

Project participants


This project deals with prime ministers in the young democracies of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) that are member states of the European Union. More specifically, it seeks to explore a key question of comparative government research that has not been answered so far: in what way do career patterns of prime ministers in CEE countries affect their political performance? To answer this question in a systematic manner, the project is subdivided into three milestones that are to be reached in corresponding work modules. The milestone of the first work module consists in a multidimensional conceptualization, systematic survey and comparative description of the political performance of prime ministers in CEE. To do so, the research group will create a systematic and detailed empirical record of prime ministerial performance in the eleven CEE countries between 1989/90 and 2017 that is based on secondary aggregate data and standardized expert judgments. This novel dataset will be a major contribution to the comparative study of political executives and should be frequently employed by future research in the field.The main target of the second work module is a systematic survey and comparative description of the career patterns of prime ministers in the eleven countries under investigation. These profiles include sociodemographic characteristics as well as different indicators of political experience of individual office-holders between 1989/90 and 2017. This encompassing dataset and the respective mapping of prime ministers career profiles will bridge a major gap in the literature comparing political elites within and beyond CEE.The final work module aims at a contextualized examination of the "individuals-do-matter" hypothesis that is most prominent in comparative political elite studies . More precisely, the project will systematically explore how the career profiles of CEE prime ministers affect their political performance. This cross-national and inter-temporal analysis is not confined to a bivariate relationship. Following the "interactionist approach" and "actor centered institutionalism" that has been elaborated by the recent literature, we will argue that the career profiles of CEE prime ministers affect their political performance conditionally, i.e. depending on the institutional, party-system and socioeconomic context in which they operate. After a systematic survey of these contextual factors, relevant interactive hypotheses will be elaborated theoretically and examined empirically in multivariate analyses. In sum, this project will substantially add to the extant literature in both empirical and theoretical perspective. Its results will be major contributions to the comparative study of governmental systems in CEE as well as to a fundamental question of political elite research.

Research outputs