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The helping hand: the role of the EU in the democratization of post-communist Europe.


The Huntingtonian third wave of democratization following the collapse of the Soviet Union represents an important area of study for many political scientists. It concerns a political transition from autocracy to democracy in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEEC) and rests on a premise that a regression to the political status quo ante is unlikely (Schmitter and Schneider 2004). The mere fact of such paradigmatic shift however is not always synonymous with successful democratization across the CEEC. One can identify four distinct categories of the former Communist states according to their level of democratization: (1) states that democratized, (2) states that returned to the former regime, (3) states that chose a different type of an authoritarian regime than before, and (4) states that did not clearly define their course.

Consequently, in order to explain the differences in the extent of their democratization, one has to account for numerous factors. Building on theories of democratization and previous research, this study aims to identify factors that lead to the differences in democratization across 20 out of the 29 post-Communist countries (2). This study gathers, in a single model, most of the variables used in previous research on democratization and shows which has a greater impact on democratization. Accordingly, the research is guided by the question: what factors shape the different developments of democratization across post-Communist European countries?

Considering that democracy is a form of governance of a state, no modern polity can turn into democracy unless it first becomes a state (3) (Linz and Stepan, 1996, 7). Therefore, this particular study concerns the time period that begins in 1993, a year that marks the complete formation of independent states after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and ends in 2004 when several of those post-Communist countries joined the EU. It uses qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) and tests nine international and domestic factors, extracted from the literature, which may potentially influence the level of democratization across the CEEC. The results reveal the importance of the "carrot" of membership in the EU as a major factor in the process of democratization of the CEEC. In this context, this research tackles a significant issue at the border of comparative politics and international relations and generates lessons for both academia and practitioners. At the scientific level, these findings complement the existing literature in two ways. On the one hand, it establishes a link between post-Communist states and an international organization, namely the EU. On the other hand, this evidence confirms the suppositions of texts from early 90's that claimed that, based on the democratization experience of other regions, the role of international organization is crucial in such transitions. For practitioners, these findings are arguments for the beneficial role of the EU and permit to use it constructively in the future enlargements.

The first section of this article conceptualizes variables of the study and derives hypotheses for testing. The following three sections operationalize the concepts, present the research design and provide empirical findings of the research. The final section explains the results and tackles their implications.

Theoretical and Conceptual Framework

The adequate definition and conceptualization of terms and concepts is especially challenging when there is little agreement in the literature about them. Once established the conceptual framework, operationalization can be easier tackled. This section has two goals. First, it reviews both the literature on democratization in the post-Communist Europe and the factors that influence that process. Second, in light of previous research, it clarifies the concepts of this study and derives working hypotheses for testing. The first subsection concerns the notion of democratization, namely the dependent variable of the study; the second identifies independent variables, both international and domestic, and hypothesizes relationships.

Democratization--working definition

Developments in the post-Communist world received greater attention after the collapse of its authoritarian regimes and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. As such, the end of the transition process initiated between 1990 and 1991 became the primary topic of many studies. The variation in the end results of the transition reveals that: (1) some regimes have chosen and completed a transition to democracy, (2) others have been "arrested" at some point on their path to democracy and either regressed to the authoritarian type they had before or chose a different type of authoritarianism, and (3) others still struggle between democracy and Communism. This particular typology exposes that the common link between the three categories lies in its reference to democratization. Despite its widespread coverage in the literature, this concept remains difficult to operationalize.

This study aims to evaluate the extent of democratization reached in the transition process across the CEEC., However, considering that a successful process of democratization leads to democracy, the concept of democracy should be narrowed before clarifying the notion of democratization. Lipset defines democracy "as a political system which supplies regular constitutional opportunities for changing the governing officials and a social mechanism that permits the largest possible part of the population to influence major decisions by choosing among contenders for political office" (Lipset 1960, 45). Dahl (1971) approaches the concept by emphasizing its main features and, thus, providing measurable dimensions. At a general level, he sees the "continuous responsiveness of the government to the preferences of its citizens, considered a political equals" as a main characteristic of democracy (Dahl 1971, 1). In this context, he proposes a model with two axes, namely public contestation and participation, so as to emphasize the importance of government's receptivity and the possibility for people to formulate their preferences. By establishing four ideal-types of political systems-competitive oligarchies, closed hegemonies, inclusive hegemonies, and polyarchy-Dahl enumerates the necessary attributes for a political system to become a polyarchy: freedom to form and join organizations, freedom of expression, the right to vote, eligibility for public office, the right to run as a candidate, alternative sources of information, free and fair elections, and institutions for ensuring responsiveness of citizens (Dahl 1971, 3). Building on these bases, Diamond, Linz and Lipset (1990, 6-7) use the term "democracy" to describe a system of government where three conditions are met: meaningful and extensive competition among individuals in organized groups at regular intervals and excluding the rule of force; an inclusive level of political participation in the selection of leaders and policies; and a level of civil and political liberties sufficient to insure the integrity of political competition and participation.

All those definitions emphasize basic features of democracy and provide useful grounds for an appropriate conceptualization of democratization. By studying transition countries, Linz and Stepan (1996) provide a valuable definition of the process. Building on the idea that democracy should be seen as "the only game in town", they consider it composed of behavioral, attitudinal and constitutional features. The behavioral component tackles the non-existence of a significant political group in the state to overthrow the democratic regime; the attitudinal component assumes that even when facing severe crises, the vast majority of the people expect further changes to emerge only by respecting the democratic rules. At the constitutional level, the conflict has to be solved according to the norms and regulations already established, as their violation is costly and inefficient (Linz and Stepan 1996, 5). In this respect, democratization is a process of reaching agreement on political procedures that lead to election of a government in a free and popular vote. All this needs to occur when the government has de facto the power to generate new policies, and when the executive, legislative and judicial branches do not have to share power with other bodies dejure (Linz and Stepan 1996, 3). According to the above literature review, democratization is the process of transformation from an authoritarian (including totalitarian and semi-authoritarian) regime to a democracy, and is not a matter of existence or non-existence, but one of speed.

International Independent Variables and Hypotheses

Once established the dependent variable, it is imperative to provide details of the independent variables and formulate hypotheses regarding the outcomes they produce. At a first glance in the CEE region, the European Union (EU) and Russia are significant actors and dialogue partners for the majority of the states. The former represents the perspective of the future, whereas the latter represents, for the vast majority of the states, their past. The increased political and economic capabilities of these two actors can definitely influence the direction a state assumes and/or the speed of its transition, as detailed below.

In the absence of cross-national studies examining this issue and inspired by Linz and Stepan (1996) as well as by Pevehouse (2005), I consider the role of the EU in the pre-accession period (herein Europeanization) as a principal external factor in determining the degree of democratization. In the process of Communist erosion and delegitimation, the European Union and the Council of Europe induced post-Communist states to adopt their liberal norms and values of appropriate international and domestic conduct (Schimmelfennig 2000). The Western European states and the international organizations can be seen as socialization agencies that taught the CEE states the beliefs and practices of the international community, the CEE states internalized Western normative configurations and accepted them as legitimate because they identified themselves with the liberal democracies and desire to learn out of self-interest (Schimmelfennig 2000).

For many post-Communist states, the prospect of the EU integration provided the impetus to break away from old political structures and to instigate multifarious reforms. For example, to affirm their desire to accede to the EU, in December 1991 Poland and Hungary were the first among the post-Communist states to sign the Europe Agreements concerning political dialogue, legal harmonization (acquis communautaire) and other areas of cooperation (i.e. trade, industry, customs, environment, and transport). Having suffered an institutional breakdown with the fall of communist regimes, and lacking both solid democratic institutions and the structural power to negotiate with a powerful transnational actor, Post-Communist countries succumbed to the ways of the asymmetrically more powerful EU. As such, the EU pressures left an important mark on the newly adopted institutional arrangements of the CEE countries and the resultant political processes. Among others, special aid programs from the EU (e.g., PHARE) for associate members from Eastern Europe were specifically aimed at achieving democratization.

Schimmelfenning and Sedelmeier (2005, 7) consider that this is a "process in which states adopt EU rules", whereas Kohler-Koch (1999) sees it as extending the boundaries of the relevant political space beyond the member states. These accounts of Europeanization emphasize its impact on both public policies and national institutions coming from European level. Radaelli (2003, 30) conceives Europeanization as "processes of (a) construction, (b) diffusion, and (c) institutionalization of formal and informal rules, procedures, policy paradigms, styles,'ways of doing things,' and shared beliefs and norms which are first defined and consolidated in the making of EU public policy and politics and then incorporated in the logic of domestic discourse, identities, political structures, and public policies". Basically, the literature on Europeanization identifies influences of the EU on its member states at various levels and examines a two-faceted process: the EU impact on domestic actors and institutions and the adaptation of domestic institutions to the obligations stipulated by the EU membership (Wallace 1999; Olsen 2002).

Consistent with these aspects, Schimmelfennig argues that, as a process, international socialization has an impact on national states. His study reveals that high material and political rewards of membership in the EU and NATO appear to have the greatest influence in triggering domestic change in those CEE states that "initially violated the liberal-democratic community norms" (Schimmelfennig 2005, 828). The conditioned accession, a strategy of positive reinforcement, implies that these organizations offer the CEE states membership under the condition of conformance with the community norms and rules. If a country does not conform, the EU withholds the reward but does not engage in coercive enforcement. In light of this research, I expect the promise of EU membership to determine whether countries comply with requirements and implement democratic reforms more quickly than their neighbors:

H1: The existence of the promise of belonging to the EU favors the democratization process.

The causal direction implied by this hypothesis cannot be reversed (i.e. states were invited to join the EU due to their levels of democratization) for two main reasons. First, states had different speeds in democratization or they had not even started this process when they were invited for negotiations (e.g. Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania). Second, the EU invited for discussions all those states that expressed their willingness to do so. As a result, there was no selection made on the speed of democratization criterion.

In studying democratization, transitologists examined a variable that measures the distance between the capital of the post-Communist state and the closest Western capital in order to predict the level of democratization (Dogan and Kazancigil 1994). The theory relies on two major premises: (1) states that are distant from each other are less likely to interact, and (2) in the world we can identify a geographical clustering of democracies (Gelpi and Grieco 2001, 804). Consequently, the further a state is from a democratic region, the less likely it is to interact and to develop its democratic institutions. Thus, utilizing their logic, I derive the second hypothesis by considering the geographic proximity of Russia and her former satellites. Russia represents a specific factor for this analysis that is hard to ignore due to her former regional hegemonic power that continues to influence politics of her former satellites even after the dissolution of the USSR.

H2: A long distance between the capital of the post-Communist state and Moscow allows for a faster democratization process.

This hypothesis focuses on the other central actor in the region, Russia, and inverts the logic of the theory that a close relationship between a post-Communist state and the EU leads to a higher probability of successful democratization in that state. With respect to Russia, close relationships brings the opposite of democratization. Russia's political, economic and security influence on its neighbors and close states can be examined from two perspectives. First, in 1993 (the starting point of this analysis), Russia demonstrated strong authoritarian tendencies in its attempt to remake the former USSR by creating and maintaining the Commonwealth of Independent States. The close relationships between Russia and most of the former Soviet Republics made it impossible for the latter to implement democratic reforms at that moment. Second, during the transition years, Russia promoted a politics of authoritarianism in neighboring states by economically and politically supporting enemies of democratization: Lukashenko in Belarus, Ryazev in Azerbaidjan, Kuchma in Ukraine, and authoritarian leaders in Central Asia. As a result, states within the Russian political sphere of influence and highly dependent on its economic resources or on its trade partnership are more likely than others to have features that are favored by Russia and that hinder democratization.

Domestic Independent Variables and Hypotheses

The existing literature proposes different sets of domestic variables to explain the variation in the process of democratization. The studies that examined the relationship between domestic factors and democratization did not examine more than a handful of states, and they focused primarily on either the Warsaw Pact states or the post-Soviet region (Linz and Stepan 1996, Zielonka and Pravda 2001, McFaul 2002, Bunce 2003). This study instead concentrates on a pair of international factors specific to the CEEC region that tend to be ignored in the literature. Those two variables and the hypothesized relationships will be examined first; then, seven variables and hypotheses that rely on previous studies will be explained.

Economic and financial conditions are the first of the neglected factors that affect democratization. Despite the controversial nature of the link between domestic economies and democracy, there seems to be a general consensus that the status of the former influences the success of the latter (Dahl 1989). Studies by Bollen (1979, 1983), Bollen and Jackman (1985), Brunk et al. (1987) and Burkhart and Lewis-Beck (1994) confirm this assertion. The first four studies conclude that economic development has a substantive positive effect on democracy. Despite such strong evidence, the studies have shortcomings that raise questions regarding their explanatory potential. The first three studies sampled a rather small and explicitly non-representative group of states, excluding the formerly Communist states. By using a cross-sectional design that ignored temporal dimension, they could not demonstrate the dynamic dimensions of the variables.

Studies by Arat (1988) and Gonick and Rosh (1988) mitigate those shortcomings as they use relatively large samples of nations, inclusive of the Communist states, and extend the measurement of democracy for time-series. However, their outcomes do not support the previous findings and find that the relationship between economic factors and democracy is much weaker than initially predicted. Considering those contradictory findings, I hypothesize that:

H3: A high economic development trend (measured as evolution of GDP/capita) triggers democratization.

The transition literature often asserts that the character of a former non-democratic regime has implications for the course of and challenges in the process of democratization (Linz and Stepan 1996, 55). In a study on the former Warsaw Pact states, Kitschelt (1999) analyzes former regime types; for his independent variable, he uses features of bureaucracy in the inter-war period. He concluded that the variable that determines democratization outcomes in post-Communist states is the presence or the absence of professional bureaucracy (as opposed to patronage bureaucracy) in the Communist regime. As such, states that experienced a certain degree of professionalization faced a lower degree of politicization from the state (Kitschelt 1999, 24-25). As a result Kitschelt identifies three types, ranging from the most to the least permissive: authoritarian-bureaucratic, national consensus, and patrimonial Communism.

The typology created by Linz and Stepan (1996) is more comprehensive and includes Kitschelt's criteria. It categorizes Communist regimes according to five different standards: the autonomy of civil society, the autonomy of political society, constitutionalism and the rule of law, the autonomy of bureaucracy, and the pluralism of property forms. The resulting forms are, ranging from the most to the least permissive: authoritarianism, totalitarianism, post-totalitarianism, and sultanistic (Linz and Stepan 1996, 56). By studying the features of the previous regime in relationship with the democratization process I hypothesize that:

H4: A more permissive type of previous regime allows for a faster process of democratization.

Related to the aforementioned hypothesis, another variable affects the nature of the transfer of power after the collapse of the Communist regime. Specifically, I examine whether the transfer occurred through democratic means-silent protests, negotiations, round table talks, and elections-or through violent means-aggressive street protests, killings, and army and police involvement. The type of transfer might have an impact on the democratization process as the mechanisms that are developed during that period can perpetuate and find their ways into political institutions. This hypothesis is based on institutional theories of democratization that argue for democratic institutions in transition states (Diamond and Plattner 1994; Linz and Stepan 1996). Thus, I hypothesize that:

H5: A low level of violence in the transfer of power at the end of Communism favors the democratization process.

The same logic applies to the next two independent variables--the nature of the first holders of power after the fall of Communism and the chosen type of government. The first elections after the collapse of Communism were characterized by different degrees of freedom and fairness. Their results were dichotomous: either successors of the Communist parties won the elections or new and democratic forces assumed power. In this context, I hypothesize that democratization will be more difficult when Communist's successors are in power because of their political affinities, interest, mechanisms and structures they support. Conversely, when democrats are in power, democratization will be easier, as those in power will be more preoccupied with establishing a path towards democratization and establishing the institutions that can best achieve this goal, leaving behind old structures.

H6: The electoral success of the democratic forces in the first elections after Communism secures the path towards democratization.

Juan Linz's article on "The Perils of Presidentialism" (1990) represented the starting point of an era that marked by an ongoing debate over the classification of countries according to the separation of powers. Countries were divided into two main categories, presidential and parliamentary, with a hybrid form in between, called semi-presidentialism. The article explored which type leads to a higher democratic performance. Although Linz only took a few cases into account, he concluded that parliamentary regimes favor democratization and extrapolated his findings. Donald Horrowitz (1990) criticized Linz's methodological shortcomings and argued in favor of a positive relationship between presidentialism and democracy, emphasizing the political stability produced by this type of government. Due to this controversy and to the debates it provoked in the literature, a country's type of democratic system is an important variable that influences the democratization process in post-Communist states. As Shugart and Carey (1992), Lijphart (1994) and Mainwaring (1998) refined the field of possible democratic systems by introducing other types beside presidentialism and parliamentarism (4), the hypothesis takes their work into account. The operationalization section sheds light on how I incorporate this variable in the analysis.

H7: The states that opted for a parliamentary system at the beginning of the transition period have greater chances to achieve democratic performances faster than the rest.

Another independent variable that may influence the process of democratization is the internal conflict a state suffered after the fall of Communism, excluding the violence that occurred when the transfer was made (see H5). I expect this variable to be inversely related to the success of a transition to democracy, since internal violence is unlikely to foster democracy (Diamond and Plattner 1994). With a few exceptions, democratic states do not face upheavals due to economic and political situations, but rather due to attitudinal features emphasized when speaking about democracy (Linz and Stepan 1996, 107-108).

H8: A great level of internal violence enhances difficulties in the democratization process.

The last variable in the domestic set is represented by the ethnic heterogeneity of the populace and concerns the number of significant minorities living on the territory of a state. Linz and Stepan (1996, 16) argue that states that have large communities of ethnic minorities end up with "competing nationalisms within one territorial state". In this respect, the positions of the main minorities and of the majority might end up conflicting (see H8) in such a way that influences the path of transition. Thus, by undermining the legitimacy of the state, this variable negatively affects the process of democratization (Pevehouse 2005, 84).

H9: Ethnic heterogeneity reduces the speed of the democratization process.

With these hypotheses in mind, the following section briefly operationalizes each of the variables and specifies their data source. I utilize binary coding, as the use of the QCA requires dichotomous variables.

Concept Operationalization and Research Design

Measurement and data for democratization

Measuring the degree of democratization represents a continuous challenge in the literature. Based on Dahl's approach, many researchers have tried to explain the variation in democratic performance across countries and regions through different indicators. However, a variety of errors can be encountered in their measurements. Cutright constructed an index of political development that took into account the characteristics of the executive and legislative branch of government in a country for a period of 21 years (Cutright 1963, 253-256). Bollen (1980) proposed an index composed of six indicators, with three of them focused on the popular sovereignty dimension (fairness of elections, effective executive selection, and legislative selection) and the other three on political liberties (freedom of the press, freedom of group opposition and government sanctions). All these indexes display different shortcomings and, generally, any aggregated measurement is deficient. In order to mitigate those problems with indexes, I combine two measurements, one from Freedom House and one from the Polity IV Project, that allow us to cover a wider spectrum of democratization. Freedom House examines issues around civil liberties and political rights, while Polity IV deals with the executive recruitment, independence of executive authority, and political competition and opposition. As both measurements provide scores (Freedom House on a scale from one to seven; Polity IV on a scale from zero to ten) I added the scores to get the total score for a given state; the higher the score, the more democratized the stat (5). As democratization is considered an evolutionary process from a former political regime to democracy, I am interested in the trend the states register across the entire period considered here. Thus, I code 1 if the state presents a generally ascendant trend over the period, and 0 in any other instance (descendent, oscillatory or stable (6)).

Measurement and data for independent variables

Coding for the nine variables is described below. Data for the independent variables are taken from national constitutions, OSCE and MAR reports (for conflict and heterogeneity of population), census, election results databases (see bibliography), and the EU documents for formal invitations of states to join the EU.

a) International factors: The promise of membership in the EU is coded 1 if the EU launched such a promise in the form of a formal partnership or a bilateral treaty. In the absence of such an invitation, the cases are coded 0. Regarding the proximity to Moscow, I code 1 all those states that were part of the Soviet Union, as they are considered geographically proximate to Russia, whereas I code 0 all those states that were ruled indirectly by Moscow during Communism.

b) Domestic factors:

Economic independence is operationalized through the amount of external resources a country uses. Based on economic reports, I code 0 if a state is based more than 50% on external resources and I consider as economic independent (coding 1) all those states that have the dependency level less than 50%. There is a similar relationship between GDP/capita and democratization. If there is an ascendant trend in GDP/capita over the years I code 1, otherwise 0.

The previous regime variable is coded 1 whenever it was fluent for a long period of time, with no major upheavals or contestation coming from various actors. All cases where the length and intensity were diminished are coded 0. When examining the transfer of power, there are two variables to consider: the manner in which the transfer of power was made (violent is coded 0; non-violent is coded 1) and first-election winners (if democrats won, I code 1; where successor or reformed Communist parties won, I code 0).

Based on the theories recalled in the first section of this paper that claim that a parliamentary system is more conducive to democracy, I code 1 all those cases with parliamentary system and 0 all those with a different type (presidential and semi-presidential) (7).

Internal violence is coded 1 only when significant conflicts (including any type of armed conflict) and systematic aggressions were constantly present in society for a long period of time' (over 1 year). I code 0 all those cases where there were isolated conflicts or fragmented violence with causes that were soon afterwards solved. Ethnic heterogeneity is the last variable taken into account; I code 1 when the ethnic majority is formed through less than 80%1 , the rest of more than 20% being divided among more than one minority, 0 goes for all other cases.

Data for the independent variables are taken from the constitutions, OSCE and MAR reports (for conflict and heterogeneity of population), census, election results databases (see bibliography), and the EU documents for formal invitations of states to join the EU.

Cases and Method

This research concerns 20 post-Communist states that, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, expressed interest in membership in the EU and which, according to the geographical criterion of integration, can become EU members: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine (10). These cases require a clear understanding of their paths towards democratization (an aspect that will be clearer from the third research phase). In this context, QCA allows a case-oriented approach. It is based on Boolean algebra and set theory, and uses dichotomous variables, logical operations between variables (causal conditions and outcomes in QCA terminology), logical operators (AND, OR, and NON), and truth tables. The steps to be taken with QCA are: specifying a model that includes specified independent variables (table 1) and creating a data matrix, running the necessity analysis for each individual causal condition (independent variable); running an analysis summarizing the primitive results in a table (2); and re-running the analysis with simplifying assumptions in order to identify more parsimonious results (table 3).

What makes the difference in democratization?

Of the 20 cases covered in this study, I arrive at a conclusive result in the 12 instances but not in the remaining 8. Below is the truth table used in the analysis, containing 29=512 lines (where 9 is the number of causal conditions). I display only those with the corresponding cases. The rows which do not have any empirical correspondence reflect the limited diversity, there are no cases corresponding to them.

After conducting the necessity test in fsQCA, the only necessary variable for the existence of democratization is the 'carrot' of the EU membership. An outcome of 1 is accepted only for those rows with a consistency higher than 0.9 (necessary in at least 9 out of 10 cases). The consistency of the causal condition referring to the EU is 0.92. The only reason it does not reach a perfect value of 1 is the case of Bosnia, which, while on a democratization track, did not receive the promise of accession to the EU. However, this state can be considered an outlier as it did not reach as a high level of democracy as the other states with an outcome of 1; its performance was notably higher than in 1993 when it was ranked for the first time. The variable of the EU's 'carrot' of membership has coverage of 1, meaning that whenever it appears in a case, the outcome of democratization will occur. A second variable that is close to the necessity threshold and also has coverage of 1 is GDP/capita. Thus, the analysis confirms, in over 80% of the considered cases, the hypothesis that a higher evolution of this indicator leads to increased probability for democratization.

There are nine rows explaining the outcome, covering 12 cases. There are seven combinations explaining the outcome where the variables for EU membership and GDP/capita are coded 1, given in the formula below (11):

ERgFwpvh (12) + ERGfWpvh + ERGfTWvh + ErGFTWpvh + eRGftWpVH + ErGFTWPVh + ErGFTWPvH ' D (1)

This solution is reached without making any simplifying assumptions about the possible outcome of logical combinations which do not have an empirical correspondent. Consequently, this is the most complex solution that has the potential to explain the occurrence of the outcome. The cases corresponding to each combination are listed in table below.

The first combination covers two countries, with a raw coverage of 0.17, while the second combination in the solution formula has a raw coverage of 0.33, meaning that it covers four cases out of the 12 in which the outcome occurs. The third covers five cases, having a raw coverage of 0.42, whereas the rest of four combinations cover one case each. Thus, the total coverage of this proposition is 1 (all cases are covered). Each of the seven primitive combinations has a consistency of 1, meaning that each of them is a sufficient, but not necessary, conjectural cause for the democratization, and therefore the consistency of the entire proposition is also 1.

A closer look at the results displayed in table 2 provides some relevant initial conclusions. Bulgaria and Romania follow the same analytical pattern (ERgFwpvh), which might explain their delay in joining the EU and a slower democratization process. The two states are often examined together in analyses; the findings of this research also emphasize their similarities. At the same time, it is interesting to observe that Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia share the same pattern of democratization with Croatia; the first three countries became the EU members on May 1, 2004. The third combination (ERGfTWvh) confirms the direction identified in the hypotheses (excepting the one regarding the parliamentary regime that is not included in the logical minimization). Five cases are covered by this combination and they have similar democratization paths and scores: the three leading countries in the CEE transitions (Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland) are accompanied by Slovakia (similar development grounds with the Czech Republic) and Slovenia (adapting well to developments). Working with simplifying assumptions will lead to easier interpretation of results. According to these three formulas that cover 66% of the cases, a more successful process of democratization can result from a combination of several factors, namely the EU's promise of membership, significant distance from Russia, no internal violence, and ethnic homogeneity.

The initial solution formula can be simplified further in several ways; the one that I adopt is factoring out terms of the proposition (1). However, both Tosmana and fsQCA provide the result after taking simplifying assumptions into consideration. For this case there are 375 simplifying assumptions; the most parsimonious solution formula, obtained after computing the simplifying assumptions is:

E + G [right arrow] (2)

The raw coverage indicates the amount of outcome explained by each condition. The EU promise explains almost 92% of the outcomes whereas the evolution of the GDP/capita explains around 83%. By taking a look at the unique coverage, the former condition covers approximately 17% whereas the latter only 8%. The direct conclusion is that there is a high overlap between them, an aspect reflected also when examining individual cases. The EU promise explains the outcome for nine states plus Bulgaria and Romania, while GDP/capita excludes the two from explanation, including Croatia next to the body of nine states. These findings are strengthened when examining the conditions that are required in order to have an absence of democratization. The results of the analysis are that the absence of EU promise and a decrease of GDP/capita lead to non-democratization.

eg [right arrow] d (3)

This combination of conditions is represented in the formula above and covers all the states under observation that have not democratized: Albania, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Macedonia, and Ukraine. Such a result strengthens the main findings, which suggest that the EU promise and the economic growth represent major explanations for fast democratization.

The immediate post-1989 declaration of many CEEC to attain membership in the European Union paved the way for the subsequent diffusion, institutionalization and absorption of the EU-conceived normative configurations, political structures and public policies in the CEEC. The formal and informal membership requirements stipulated by numerous EU obligations and conditions, like the Europe Agreements or the Accession Partnership, are the essence of the EU's influence on the democratization process of the CEEC. Triggered mainly by the accession conditionality (i.e. the "carrot and the stick" policy), the EU guides the post-communist countries to adopt Western liberal norms and values of appropriate international conduct (according to the socialization theory exposed by Schimmelfennig 2000). In this case, the democratization process is the result of a vertical interaction between the EU and the post-communist states where the latter react in response to the stipulations of the potential EU membership. As stipulations involve major components of democratic performance (e.g. the Copenhagen criteria), the conformance of the CEEC to the prescribed norms and practices fosters democratization. The mechanisms of guided Europeanization of the region can be summarized as lesson-drawing (i.e. the import of models and programs from abroad), socialization (i.e. the learning and internalization of regulatory and prescriptive norms), obligation (i.e. duties, responsibilities and potential sanctions for actors who want to or are pressured to obey the established rules), and sanction (punitive instruments designed to secure actors' obedience with the rules). Basically, this complex of factors explains most of the differences in democratization that occurred in the post-communist space. Overall, the countries subjected to conditionality have witnessed faster democratization when compared with the rest.

The second variable that explains the speed of democratization is democratic development. Moving beyond the continuous debates about the causal relationship between democratization and economic development, there is evidence from the post-communist countries that increases in the GDP/capita creates a more favorable environment for democratization. However, one must bear in mind that a functional market economy represents a basic component of the accession conditionality. It is not surprising that countries that receive the promise of EU accession perform better on the economic indicator compared to their neighbors. For example, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary benefit of fundamental reforms in the mid-90's and become the forerunners of economic transition. The conditionality makes Slovenia join the group later on and transforms it in a real economic success, being also the first former communist country that adopts the European currency. Even the delayed accession countries (Bulgaria and Romania) perform better in economic terms than Albania, Macedonia or Azerbaijan, countries that were not subjected to EU conditionality. Put simply, economic development goes hand in hand with the EU promise for accession and sets the ground for faster democratization.


This study reveals that out of nine potential explanatory variables tested there are two that make a difference with respect to democratization in the CEE region: the "carrot" of the EU accession and a constant increase of the GDP/capita. The states that have met at least one of those conditions reached high levels of democratization, whereas the others were not as successful. From the study of the causal mechanisms of democratization, it appears that EU accession was a primary factor that propelled democratization in the region. In this context, the model presented in this article, although complicated, provides valid explanations and represents bases for further research.

These findings bear two major implications. First, both at theoretical and empirical level, the institutional impact of foreign intervention and objective economic factors should be included in analyses concerning the developments in the post-authoritarian space. In this respect, our study bears a particularity that makes it difficult to replicate for other regions (the EU interest in getting new members), but it also entails general concepts (i.e. the role of foreign institutions) that may be useful to develop an argument in other settings. Second, at a policymaking level, being aware of effects produced by their actions, the actors can take advantage of the situation. On the one hand, knowing its potential in the democratization process, the EU may model the subsequent accession processes for the future member states. On the other hand, the domestic institutions may enhance an economic increase in order to provide solid grounds for democratization.

The limits of this research are represented by the level of the analysis. A general look allowed us to observe patterns and to hypothesize about the macro-relations and to provide a possible explanation about the functioning of those mechanisms. It would be useful if further research concentrated on a micro-level approach. Hopefully, a closer look will say more about the underpinnings of the causal mechanisms in the process of democratization in the states that democratized as a result of Europeanization. Furthermore, as the QCA analysis provided dual results (the EU promise and GDP were found to be promoters of democratization), further research should focus on the relationship between the two variables instead of positing that the "carrot" of the EU membership fosters a more rapid increase in the GDP


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By Sergiu Gherghina (1)

(1) Mr Gherghina is currently a PhD Researcher at the Department of Political Science of Leiden University, The Netherlands. His research interests include but are not restricted to comparative politics, parties and party systems, transition studies, and European institutions.

(2) I include solely the European post-communist countries in order to test the influence of the EU. Non-European countries are not subject to EU conditionality for accession.

(3) When speaking about state, we target the three basic elements highlighted in Weber's definition: population, territory, and legitimate use of force. In this respect it should be avoided the confusion with Rechtsstaat, based on limitation of power, rule of law, the prevalence of authorities and norms and respect for procedures. When the latter is achieved, a relatively high degree of democracy is present.

(4) Shugart and Carey (1992) identify the following types: premier-presidential, president-parliamentary, presidential, parliamentary, assembly-independent.

(5) I reversed Freedom House scoring in order to be able to appropriately add up its scores with Polity IV. FH initially provides scores from 1 to 7 and considers the most democratized states to be those that have the smallest scores. In my case, the state that gets the highest score is the most democratic. In adding up the scores provided by Polity IV and Freedom House, we have standardized them, so that both of them run from a 0-10 scale.

(6) We code 0 those situations that were stable as in 1993 none of these states had an acceptable level of democratization. Thus, if they are stable across time that means that their level today is quite low.

(7) There are a few states that modified their type of government between 1993 and 2004. However, the changes were insignificant in terms of power sharing / the system modified, but the power remained concentrated in the hands of the same actor (Albania 1998, Slovakia 1998) or too late to influence something in the analysis (Moldova 2002).

(8) For the armed conflicts I do not apply the time dimension. Any armed conflict, unless it has private connotations provides a code of 1 to that case.

(9) I was inspired in using the 80% threshold by the Minorities at Risk Project.

(10) I excluded from the analysis the Central Asian states and Serbia that had continuous problems regarding territory and population, two essential components of the state.

(11) Capitals indicate the presence of the condition, whereas small letters indicate its absence.

(12) QCA uses one-letter coding for variables. As a result, I renamed all variables as follows: EU = E, distance from Russia = R, GDP/capit = G, Former Regime = F, Power Transfer = T, Winners of the first election = W, Parliamentary system = P, Internal Violence = V, Ethnic heterogeneity = H, Democratization = D.

Row   Causal conditions
      EU   Distance   GDP/capita   Former regime   Power transfer

1     0    1          1            0               0
2     1    1          0            1               1
3     1    1          1            0               0
4     1    1          1            0               1
5     1    0          1            1               1
6     1    0          1            1               1
7     1    0          1            1               1
8     1    1          1            0               1
9     1    1          0            1               0
10    0    1          0            1               1
11    0    0          0            1               1
12    0    0          0            1               1
13    0    0          0            1               1
14    0    0          0            1               1
15    0    1          D            0               1
16    0    0          0            1               1

Row                  Causal conditions
      First winner   Parl. Regime   Violence   Ethnic heterog.

1     1              0              1          1
2     0              0              0          0
3     1              0              0          0
4     1              1              0          0
5     1              1              0          1
6     1              1              1          0
7     1              0              0          0
8     1              0              0          0
9     0              0              0          0
10    1              1              0          0
11    0              0              1          1
12    1              0              1          0
13    0              0              0          0
14    1              0              1          1
15    0              0              0          1
16    1              0              0          1

Row   Outcome           Corresponding cases

1     1                 Bosnia
2     1                 Bulgaria
3     1                 Croatia
4     1                 Czech Rep., Hungary
5     1                 Estonia
6     1                 Latvia
7     1                 Lithuania
8     1                 Poland, Slovakia,
9     1                 Romania
10    0                 Albania
11    0                 Azerbaijan. Moldova
12    0                 Armenia
13    0                 Belarus
14    0                 Georgia
15    0                 Macedonia
16    0                 Ukraine

Source: Truth table compiled by fsQCA software.

Note: 0 = the absence of the causal condition. 1 = its presence.


Expression             Raw        Unique     Consistency
                       coverage   coverage

ERgFwpvh+              0.166667   0.166667   1.000000
ERGfWpvh+              0.333333   0.083333   1.000000

ERGfTWvh+              0.416667   0.166667   1.000000

ErGFTWpvh+             0.083333   0.083333   1.000000
eRGftWpVH+             0.083333   0.083333   1.000000
ErGFTWPVh+             0.083333   0.083333   1.000000
ErGFTWPvH              0.083333   0.083333   1.000000

Solution coverage                            1.000000
Solution consistency                         1.000000

Expression             Corresponding cases
                       displaying the outcome

ERgFwpvh+              Bulgaria, Romania
ERGfWpvh+              Croatia, Poland, Slovakia,
ERGfTWvh+              Czech Republic, Hungary,
                       Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia
ErGFTWpvh+             Bosnia
eRGftWpVH+             Estonia
ErGFTWPVh+             Latvia
ErGFTWPvH              Lithuania

Solution coverage
Solution consistency

Source: Table compiled using output results generated by fsQCA
and Tosmana.


Expression   Raw        Unique     Consistency   Corresponding cases
             coverage   coverage                 displaying the

E+           0.916667   0.166667   1.000000      Bulgaria, Croatia,
                                                 Czech Republic,
                                                 Hungary, Estonia,
                                                 Latvia, Lithuania,
                                                 Poland, Slovakia,
                                                 Slovenia, Romania

G            0.033333   0.033333   1.000000      Bosnia, Croatia,
                                                 Czech Republic,
                                                 Hungary, Estonia,
                                                 Latvia, Lithuania,
                                                 Poland, Slovakia,
Solution coverage      1.000000
Solution consistency   1.000000

Source: Table compiled using output
results generated by fsQCA and
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Author:Gherghina, Sergiu
Publication:Romanian Journal of Political Science
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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