Corruption and Electoral Support for New Political Parties in Central and Eastern Europe

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More than 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the electoral volatility in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is still remarkably high. A considerable part of the volatility derives from the votes for new political parties, since they are very often on the winning side of elections. This article examines corruption as a potential determinant of their electoral support. It argues that the effect of corruption is twofold: on the one hand, the historically derived corruption level reduces the electoral support for new political parties due to strong clientelist structures that bind the electorate to the established parties. On the other hand, an increase in perceived corruption above the traditional corruption level leads to a loss of trust in the political elite and therefore boosts the electoral support for new competitors. A statistical analysis of all democratic elections in CEE between 1996 and 2013 confirms these two counteracting effects.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWest European Politics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)278-304
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 03.03.2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.

    Research areas

  • Central and Eastern Europe, clientelism, corruption, new political parties, party–voter linkages, volatility
  • Politics