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Echoes of Latifundism? Electoral Constituencies of Successor Parties in Post-Communist Countries


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This article examines patterns of elector support for successor parties in Hungary, Poland, East Germany, and Russia. After consideration of competing hypotheses purporting to explain variance in successor vote, the author proposes a new hypothesis—that regions dominated by latifundism in pre-communist times, and where masses of agricultural proletarians and impoverished peasants experienced the communist period as an era of unprecedented social advancement, show an above-average level of elector support for successor parties. This hypothesis is tested on a regional level in the four country-cases and found to be valid and a more powerful determinate of regional variance in patterns of successor vote than socio-economic status of regions in the post-communist era.
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10.1177/0888325403258286 ARTICLEEchoes of Latifundism?East European Politics and Societies
Echoes of Latifundism?
Electoral Constituencies of Successor
Parties in Post-Communist Countries.
Jacek Lubecki*
This article examines patterns of elector support for successor parties in
Hungary, Poland, East Germany, and Russia. After consideration of com-
peting hypotheses purporting to explain variance in successor vote, the
author proposes a new hypothesis—that regions dominated by latifundism
in pre-communist times, and where masses of agricultural proletarians and
impoverished peasants experienced the communist period as an era of
unprecedented social advancement, show an above-average level of elec-
tor support for successor parties. This hypothesis is tested on a regional
level in the four country-cases and found to be valid and a more powerful
determinate of regional variance in patterns of successor vote than socio-
economic status of regions in the post-communist era.
Keywords: successor parties; latifundism; regional political culture; post-
communist Europe; Hungary; Russia; Poland; East Germany
Successor parties1derived from the former ruling communist par-
ties in Eastern and Central Europe began their string of surprising
electoral successes with Lithuania in 1992, followed by Poland in
1993 and Hungary in 1994. In these particular countries, the suc-
cessor left was able to capture parliamentary majorities and
10 East European Politics and Societies, Vol. 18, No. 1, pages 10–44. ISSN 0888-3254
© 2004 by the American Council of Learned Societies. All rights reserved.
DOI: 10.1177/0888325403258286
1. Two criteria determine the term successor parties for the purposes of this paper: (1) parties
that are institutional successors of the former ruling communist parties of Eastern Europe
and (2) those among them that achieved genuine electoral successes in reasonably free elec-
tions. More specifically, the parties or electoral blocks under consideration are, in Hungary,
the MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party) and the MSZMP (Hungarian Socialist Workers Party); in
Poland, the electoral block SLD (Union of Democratic Left); in Germany, the PDS (Party of
Democratic Socialism); and in Russia, the KPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federa-
tion) and its agrarian ally AP (Agrarian Party).
*I would like to thank the anonymous reviewer from EEPS, as well as John Ishiyama, Valerie
Assetto, Michael Bernhard, and Spencer Wellhofer for their useful comments on different
drafts of this article. Part of the research for this article was made possible by the Russian and
East European Center at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and its Title III grant that
allowed me to participate in the 2001 Summer Research Laboratory.
establish ruling governments. Even more surprisingly, the Ger-
man successor Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) began to
dominate the political landscape in East Germany, sending its
deputies to the Bundestag in 1994. In 1995, the Communist Party
of the Russian Federation (KPRF) clearly won the second Duma
elections with a plurality of 22 percent of party-list vote.
These electoral attainments were not ephemeral. Although the
resurgent right removed the left from power in Lithuania (1996),
Poland (1997) and Hungary (1998), even when defeated, the suc-
cessor parties kept (in the case of Hungary) or even increased (in
Poland) their national constituencies of close to 30 percent of the
vote.2Likewise, in the 1998 Bundestag elections, the PDS won
more than 5 percent of the vote nationally and 21 percent of East
German vote.3In the 1999 Duma elections, the KPRF continued
its electoral primacy with the plurality of 24.3 percent of party-list
vote.4Overall, the post-communist left has enjoyed the steady
support of 20 to 30 percent of voters in Hungary, Poland, Russia,
and East Germany. Given that successor parties’ electorates are
among the most loyal constituencies in Eastern and Central
Europe, these parties are bound to dominate the left side of the
political spectrum.5
Who votes for the successor left? In the relevant literature,
which will be addressed below, patterns of variance in successor
votes are elucidated via economic- or cultural-deterministic
frameworks. These frameworks can be further classified accord-
ing to their focus on either individual or group level of analysis
(see Table 1).
East European Politics and Societies 11
2. In politically volatile Lithuania, the Lithuanian Democratic Workers Party went from 42.61
percent of national vote in 1992 down to 9.5 percent in 1996. See Terry Clark, “The Lithua-
nian Political Party System: A Case Study of the Democratic Consolidation,” East European
Politics and Society 9:1(1995): 41-62; and Lithuanian Seimas, Department of Computing,
“Preliminary Results of the Seimas Elections in the Multi-Mandate Districts,” in Results of the
Seimas Elections 1996, (23 October 1996).
3. See American Institute for Contemporary Ger man Studies,
4. See the Russian Center for Public Opinion and Market Research (VCIOM) and the Center for
the Study of Public Policy of the University of Starthclyde,
5. With regard to the steadfastness of the successor party electorate in Poland, see Hubert
Tworzecki, Parties and Politics in Post-1989 Poland (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1996), 177-78.
For the Russian evidence, see Stephen White, Richard Rose, and Ian McAllister, How Russia
Votes (Chatham, NJ: Chatham House, 1996), 136-37. For East Germany, see Daniel Ziblatt,
“Putting Humpty-Dumpty Back Together Again. Communist Collapse and the Reconstruc-
tion of the East German Ex-Communist Party,” Ger man Politicsand Society 16:1(1998), 18-19.
At first, following the successor parties’ electoral victories,
scholars instinctively embraced an “economic losers” theory—
the notion that voters who experienced either acute economic
hardship or a clear diminution of economic status in the wake of
communism’s downfall would vote for the successor parties (Frame-
work 1.1 in Table 1). This individualistic, economic-deterministic
thesis has its cultural-deterministic counterpart. According to this
second notion, it is not “objective” economic but “subjective”
psychological sense of status-diminution that determines particu-
lar individuals’ decisions to vote for political forces symbolizing
the old regime (Framework 1.2).
Both of these individual-level theses appeared to be mani-
festly inadequate in Russia, where regional voting patterns are
strong. Consequently, scholars working with this particular coun-
try case coined a third, group-level framework focusing on the
12 Echoes of Latifundism?
Table 1. Frameworks Explaining Who Votes For The Successor
2. Group-Level
1. Individual-Level (Regional)
Framework Explanations Explanations
1. Economic
1.1. Individuals who
suffered economic
hardship or loss of
economic status as
the result of fall of
communism and
economic reforms
2.1. Peripheral regions
that suffered espe-
cially acute economic
hardship as the result
of fall of communism
and economic
2. Cultural
1.2. Individuals who
suffered psycholog-
ical hardship or a
sense of loss of sta-
tus as the result of
fall of communism
2.2. Peripheral regions
attached to political
forces symbolizing
the old regime
because of historical
memory of positive
developmental expe-
rience under
economic effects of the Russian market reforms on rural regions
of central and southern Russia where the KPRF received its stron-
gest support. Voting for the KPRF, in this interpretation, was an
expression of group-level resistance of the agrarian periphery
against penalizing economic policies of the northern, industrial
core. Based on the Russian case, it could be tempting to general-
ize that peripheral regions most penalized in the transition pro-
cesses are most likely to generate electoral support for the suc-
cessor parties across Eastern and East-Central Europe. Meaning
that whole regions are either economic “losers” or “winners” of
the transition, and the peripheral “losers” would vote most
consistently for the successor left (Framework 2.1 in Table 1).
The position argued in this article is that while the existing
frameworks offer insights into patterns of successor votes, a large
part of the variance still remains unexplained. Prominently miss-
ing is a political-cultural framework addressing the importance of
long-term historical factors at the regional (or group) level
(Framework 2.2 in Table 1: a regional-culturalist hypothesis).
More specifically, drawing on evidence from Hungary, Poland,
East Germany, and Russia, I will explore an “echoes of
latifundism” hypothesis based on the notion that regions charac-
terized by predominance of large landed estates and rural pov-
erty in the pre-communist era, where masses of poor peasants
and agricultural proletarians experienced the communist period
as a time of unprecedented socioeconomic advancement, are
also the areas where successor parties have enjoyed the highest
and most consistent electoral support.
The following section of the article presents a detailed analysis
of the existing explanatory frameworks and shows their inade-
quacy. The second section develops the regional-culturalist
hypothesis, while the third section tests this framework in the
aforementioned countries. The conclusion includes predictive
implications of my thesis.
Explanatory frameworks and their inadequacy
The individualistic, economic-deterministic explanation of the
successor vote is based on the notion that voters who experi-
East European Politics and Societies 13
enced either acute economic hardship or a clear diminution of
economic status in the wake of communism’s downfall would
vote for the successor parties. This was the framework instinc-
tively embraced in the early explanations of “communist return.”6
However, while useful as a general explanation for the electoral
popularity of ex-communist parties at the national level, the “los-
ers” theory proved to be inadequate as an explanation of individ-
ual-level variance in electoral preferences of post-communist
voters. Survey research, indeed, revealed that individual eco-
nomic circumstances, such as household incomes, do not
explain individual decisions to vote for the successor parties in all
four of the country cases. Distinctly ideological and broad social-
structural factors determined the individual-level voting deci-
sions, with strictly economic issues taking a secondary impor-
tance. On the individual level of analysis, lack of religiosity and
middle age were the best predictors of successor party vote in
Hungary, Poland, and East Germany. In Russia, with its low reli-
giosity, the successor constituency tended to be rural and older
than fifty-five.7
Given the primacy of ideological and social correlates of indi-
vidual decisions to vote for the successor left, Allison Mahr and
14 Echoes of Latifundism?
6. Popular press repeated this thesis ad nauseum in the case of Polish 1993 and Hungarian
1994 elections. See Jane Perlez, “Ex-Communists Get Crucial New Role in Polish Elections.
Discontent on Economy,” New York Times, 20 September 1993; and “Ex-Communists Post-
Big Gains in Hungary’s National Elections,” New York Times, 9 May 1994. Initial scholarly
reactions repeated similar notions; see John Gibson and Anna Cielecka, “Economic Influ-
ences on the Political Support for Market Reform in Post-Communist Transition: Some Evi-
dence from the 1993 Polish Parliamentary Elections,” Europe-Asia Studies 47:5(1995): 765-
85; and Edith Oltay, “The Former Communists’ Election Victory in Hungary,” RFE/RL
Research Report 3:25(24 June 1994): 1-6.
7. For evidence regarding Hungary, see Geoffrey Evans and Stephen Whitefield, “Social and
Ideological Cleavage Formation in Post-Communist Hungary,” Europe-Asia Studies
47:7(1995): 1191. For Poland, see Hubert Tworzecki, Parties and Politics, 177-78. For the
Russian evidence, see White, Rose, and McAllister, How Russia Votes, 145; and Ralph Clem
and Peter Craumer, “Urban-Rural Voting Differences in Russian Elections, 1995-1996: A
Rayon-Level Analysis,” Post-Soviet Geography and Economics 38:7(1997): 379-95. The East
German data, finally, can be found in Oskar Niedermayer, “Die Stellung der PDS im
Ostdeuschten Parteisystem,” in The Party of Democratic Socialism in Germany. Moder n
Post-Communism or Nostalgic Populism? ed. Peter Baker (Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1998), 18-37;
Jonathan Olsen, “Germany’s PDS and Varieties of ‘Post-Communist’ Socialism,” Problems of
Post-Communism 45:6(November 1998): 42-52; David Patton, “Germany’s Party of Demo-
cratic Socialism in a Comparative Perspective,” East European Politics and Societies 12:3(Fall
1998): 500-26; and Helmut Wiesenthal, “Post-Unification Dissatisfaction, or Why Are So
Many East Germans Unhappy with the New Political System?” German Politics 7:2(August
1998): 1-30.
John Nagle’s notion of “cultural legacy of communism” seemed
to be a more plausible individual-level explanation for factors
determining successor parties’ constituencies.8According to this
framework, not economic but psychological “losers” of commu-
nism’s collapse would constitute the bulk of the successor vote.
While this hypothesis is more consistent with empirical patterns
than the economic losers theory, it also borders on tautology
unless one can also define objective criteria determining who the
psychological losers are. However, the most obvious criteria,
such as age and past communist party membership, are inade-
quate. In terms of age, people who were born and lived signifi-
cant portions of their adult lives under communism9indeed con-
stitute the bulk of successor parties’ constituencies, but a majority
of these people do not vote for the successor left. Past communist
party membership, in turn, is not a statistically significant factor in
motivating individual decisions to vote for or support the succes-
sor left in all the countries under consideration.10
The regional character of voting in post-communist Europe
did not escape the attention of researchers. Political geographers
working on the Russian case, where the agrarian south voted
overwhelmingly for the KPRF, reached a regionalist framework
early.11 The vote for the KPRF, according to the dominant inter-
pretation, was an expression of group-level resistance of the con-
servative agrarian periphery against penalizing economic poli-
cies of the northern, industrial core.12 Simultaneously, regional
East European Politics and Societies 15
8. See Allison Mahr and John Nagle, “Resurrection of the Successor Parties and Democratiza-
tion in East-Central Europe,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 28:4(1995): 393-409.
9. These include voters between their midthirties and midfifties in East-Central Europe and
voters older than fifty in Russia.
10. See White, Rose, and McAllister, How Russia Votes, 43-44; Olsen, “Germany’s PDS”; Mitchell
Orenstein, “A Genealogy of Communist Successor Parties in East-Central Europe and the
Determinants of Their Success,” East Eur opean Politics and Societies 12:3(Fall 1998): 489.
11. The seminal articles in this respect are Vladimir Kolossov, “The Electoral Geography of the
Former Soviet Union 1989-91: Retrospective Comparison and Theoretical Issues,” in The
New Political Geography of Eastern Europe, ed. John O’Loughlin and Herman van der
Wusten (London: Halsted Press, 1993), 189-215; Darrell Slider, Vladimir Gimple’son, and
Sergei Churov, “Political Tendencies in Russia’s Regions,” Slavic Review 53:3(Fall 1994):
711-32; and Ralph Clem and Peter Craumer, “The Geography of the Russian 1995 Parlia-
mentary Elections: Continuity, Change and Correlates,” Post-Soviet Geography 36:10(1995):
12. See Joan Urban and Valerii Solovei, Russia’s Communists at the Crossr oads (Boulder, CO:
Westview, 1997), 186-89; John O’Loughlin, Michael Shin, and Paul Talbot, “Political Geog-
factors rooted in Poland’s stormy history were discovered to be
the best explanation for the country’s complex structure of politi-
cal cleavages.13 However, neither the Russian nor the Polish case
gave rise to attempts at systematic comparative generalizations to
other countries. In the meantime, experts on East Germany cor-
rectly identified the PDS as an East German identity-based
“regionalist” party but misidentified the “other” successor parties
as representing “economic losers,” thus precluding the possibil-
ity of a meaningful comparison.14 In Hungary, finally, regional
factors, especially the country’s long-standing division into sec-
tions east and west of the Danube, were mostly interpreted with
regard to electoral cleavages among nonsuccessor parties.15
As I mentioned, one could easily hypothesize from the Russian
case that peripheral regions most penalized in the transition
processes are most likely to generate electoral support for the
successor parties. In all of the countries there is, indeed, a pattern
of correlation between above-average successor vote and
regional structural factors denoting a peripheral status, such as
rural character (Russia and East Germany) and unemployment
(Poland and Hungary). East Germany as a whole can be seen as a
peripheral region. An economic deterministic core-periphery/
winner-loser theory of successor party vote would appear to
explain the existing regional electoral patterns.
As I demonstrate in the following sections of the article, the
economic-deterministic core-periphery framework fails to con-
16 Echoes of Latifundism?
raphies and Cleavages in the Russian Parliamentary Elections,” Post-Soviet Geography and
Economics 37:6(1996): 355-85; and William Reisinger, Arthur Miller, and Vicky Hesli, “Ideo-
logical Divisions and Party-Building Prospects in Post-Soviet Russia,” in Elections and Voter
in Post-Communist Russia, ed. Matthew Wyman, Stephen White, and Sarah Oates
(Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 1998), 147-51.
13. See Larry Wade, Alexander J. Groth, and Peter Lavelle, “Searching for Voting Patterns in
Post-Communist Poland’s Sejm Elections,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies
28:4(1995): 421-23; and Tworzecki, Parties and Politics.
14. See Wiesenthal, “Post-Unification Dissatisfaction,” 12-15, 21-27; and Patton, “Germany’s
Party of Democratic Socialism,” 513.
15. See Racz Barnabas and Istvan Kukorelli, “The ‘Second-Generation’ Post-Communist Elec-
tions in Hungary in 1994,” Europe-Asia Studies 47:2(1995): 267-68; András Körösényi,
“Revival of the Past or New Beginning. The Nature of Post-Communist Politics,” in Democ-
racy and Political Transformation. Theories and East-Central European Realities, ed.
György Szoboszlai (Budapest: Hungarian Political Science Association, 1991); and Zoltan
Kovács, “The Geography of Hungarian Parliamentary Elections 1990,” in O’Loughlin and
van der Wusten, The New Political Geography of Eastern Europe, 255-73.
sistently elucidate regional variance in successor vote in the
countries under consideration. As a complement, I offer a cul-
tural-deterministic framework and argue that to explain why the
successor parties have enjoyed above-average levels of electoral
support in particular peripheral regions, one needs to take into
consideration specific historical trajectories and “regional” effects
they created.
Echoes of latifundism?
What do I mean by “regional” effects? Political geographers cre-
ated the concept of “neighborhood effect” to account for the fact
that human action is typically grounded in a given spatial and
social context. This concept, reinforced by Anthony Giddens’s
structuration theory, recently produced a broader notion of
“place” or “regional” effect. The gist of this notion is that regions
are often deliberate, historical human creations that provide a
specific context for individual agents whose actions simulta-
neously reflect, reproduce, and change the context.16
To illustrate the regional (or “place”) effect on human action,
take an example of individual voting decision in Polish 1993
elections as reported by Anne Applebaum.17 After describing a
depressed town of NakÂo in north-central Poland, she cited the
case of a former state farm manager who became a successful
storeowner. The gentleman, who was no “economic loser,”
resented the general socioeconomic decline of his community
and even the fact that the economic reforms “forced” him to be
successful. As a result, he decided to vote for the electoral block
representing the Polish successor party (SLD). His decision
appears to be “irrational” from an individualistic point of view,
but it becomes understandable if one sees his action as contextu-
ally grounded.
East European Politics and Societies 17
16. See Peter Taylor and Ronald Johnston, Geography of Elections (New York: Holmes & Meier,
1979), 85-111, 170-270; Anthony Giddens, The Constitution of Society: Outlineof the Theory
of Structuration (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994); and John Agnew, Place
and Politics. The Geographical Mediation of State and Society (Boston: Allen & Unwin,
17. See Anne Applebaum, “Poland’s Old Guard Lures Rural Voters,” Financial Times, 20 Sep-
tember 1993.
NakÂo is situated in a historical region known as Central
Pomerania, which belonged to Prussia during the period of Pol-
ish partitions before World War I. Gigantic Junker estates domi-
nated this predominantly agrarian area. The majority of its Polish
working population was consequently reduced to the status of
agricultural proletarians for the German landowners. Only after
the expulsion or emigration of the Germans, which happened
successively as the result of both world wars, Poles settled the
area uniformly. In 1945, Polish communists converted some for-
mer Junker estates into state farms, while most of the land was
parceled out to formerly landless local or immigrant Poles. The
communist government also strove to industrialize and urbanize
the region.18 As a result of its history, the region exhibits three
compounded characteristics: historical presence of latifundism
and of the accompanying agricultural proletariat, presence of pri-
vate farms created by the communist land reform, and experi-
ence of substantial economic development under communism.
Moreover, central Pomeranian historical experience is not
unique. Its significance for my inquiry is confirmed by literature
addressing Eastern and East-Central European agrarian history
and patterns of socioeconomic development under communism.
Several authors, including most prominently Iván Szelényi,
draw attention to the consequences of Eastern and East-Central
European pre-communist latifundism and its continuation under
communism—either directly, in the form of state farms, or indi-
rectly, when collective farms reconstituted the former latifundia
out of consolidated holdings of peasants who owed their land to
communist land reforms.19 Wherever it existed, latifundism cre-
ated zones of poverty and coercive labor exploitation.20 For the
agricultural proletarians, who were the most exploited class in
pre-communist Eastern and East-Central Europe, the coming of
communism and its egalitarian land reforms was undoubtedly a
18 Echoes of Latifundism?
18. See Jan Falkowski, WpÂyw urbanizacji i uprzemysÂowienia na przemiany w strukturze
przestrzennej rolnictwa (na przykÂadzie aglomeracji Dolnej WisÂy) (Torun!: Uniwersytet
MikoÂaja Kopernika, 1981).
19. Iván Szelényi noted, “The astonishing parallels between the kolkhoz system and the Junker
estate” that involved a historical continuity between the former large estates and collective
farms in Hungary. See Iván Szelényi, Socialist Entrepreneurs. Embourgeoisment in Rural
Hungary (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988), 21.
historical vindication. The Leninist regimes also programmati-
cally sought the support of lower rural strata and were not disap-
pointed in this respect. Consequently, later massive socialization
of land and establishment of state or collective farms was
received with the least resistance by agricultural proletarians and
poor peasants who benefited from the earlier redistribution of
latifundia. In fact, as Iván Szelényi noted, both human and physi-
cal infrastructure of latifundism favored state-directed farming.21
Collective and state farms, in turn, found themselves in economic
difficulties after the fall of communism. Hence, in all countries
under consideration, one can expect to see a pattern of continu-
ity between zones of pre-communist latifundism and rural pov-
erty, easy establishment of state or collective farms under com-
munism, and regions that vote for the successor parties as a
function of political culture that recalls the communist period as a
time of genuine socioeconomic advancement.
It is also important to remember that Leninist governments
were ideologically committed to the eradication of regional eco-
nomic inequalities as well as to the elimination of distinctions
between town and country. These avowed goals were, admit-
tedly, subjected to Machiavellian considerations and remained,
in their totality, unfulfilled. In retrospect, however, efforts at
regional equalization undertaken by the regimes should not be
underestimated. Indeed, there is a consensus in the literature that
regional inequality in levels of socioeconomic development sub-
stantially decreased under communism in all countries under
East European Politics and Societies 19
20. This issue sparked a rich literature in comparative politics. See Barrington Moore Jr., Social
Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Lords and Peasants in the Making of the Modern
World (Boston: Beacon, 1966).
21. See Szelényi, Socialist Entr epreneurs, 183-89, Idiko Vasary, Beyond the Plan. Social Change
in a Hungarian Village (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1987), 40-59; Andrzej Korbon!ski, Politics
of Socialist Agriculture in Poland: 1945-1960 (New York: Columbia University Press,
1965), 90-95, 258; Dariusz Jarosz, Polityka wÂadz komunistycznych w Polsce w latach 1948-
56 a chÂopi (Warszawa, Poland: Wydawnictwo DiG, 1998), 116, 152; Siegfried Kuntsche,
“Bodenreform in einem Kernland der Grossgrunbesitzes: Meckleneburg-Vorpommern,” in
“Junkerland in Bauerhand?” Durchführung, Auswirkungen und Stellenwert der
Bodenreform in der Sowjetischen Besatzugszone, ed. Arnd Bauerkämper (Stuttgart, Ger-
many: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1996), 51-68; and Grigory Ioffe and Tatyana Nefedova, Conti-
nuity and Change in Rural Russia. A Geographical Perspective (Boulder, CO: Westview
Press, 1997), 58-61.
consideration.22 Undoubtedly, state planners brought about
urbanization and industrialization to regions that were otherwise
condemned to remain backwaters. Furthermore, the fall of com-
munism and the accompanying economic crisis and transition to
market allocation of resources quickly eradicated regional egali-
tarianism favored by the party-state and increased inequalities in
relative regional levels of economic well-being.23 Logically, one
should expect that in regions historically dominated by
latifundism that suffered from “developmental” neglect before
and after communism, positive memory of the communist period
would define today’s political loyalties. In other words, commu-
nist attempts to spread urban and industrial development to the
otherwise disadvantaged regions might prove to be political
IOUs written for the benefit of the successors left.
Finally, certain regional realities were “created from scratch”
under communism. This phenomenon is most visible in the Pol-
ish western and northeastern “recovered territories.” These ex-
German areas, representing one-third of contemporary Poland,
did not exist as Polish regional realities before communism. To
their settlers, who often came from poor agricultural areas of the
former Russian partition of Poland and encountered relatively
developed urban, industrial, and rural physical infrastructure in
the new territories, the resettlement was, in Anthony
Kruszewski’s words, a “modernizing” experience.24 Understand-
ably, one should expect that rural immigrant populations for
whom communist era resettlement coincided with substantial
economic improvement might give their political loyalty to
successor parties.
20 Echoes of Latifundism?
22. See György Enyedi, Hungary: An Economic Geography (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1976);
Robert Lewis and Richard Rowland, Population Redistribution in the USSR (New York:
Praeger, 1979); William Berentsen, “Regional Change in the German Democratic Republic,”
Annals of the Association of American Geographers 71:1(March 1981): 50-66; and Paul
Burns, “Spatial Inequality in Poland 1945-1981” (master’s thesis, Kansas State University,
23. See Alun Jones, The New Germany (New York: John Wiley, 1994), Ewa Marczyn!ska-
Witczak and Wojciech Michalski, Przestrzenne i czasowe zróz³nicowanie warunków z³ycia
ludnosci w Polsce (ñód: Centralny UrzaÔd Planowania, 1996); Bert Van Selm, “Economic
Performance in Russia’s Regions,” Eur ope-Asia Studies 50:4(1998): 603-18; and Klára Major
and József Nemes Nagy, “Jövevelemegyen Lötkenségek,” Statisztiali Szemle 77:6( June
1999): 397-421.
24. See Anthony Kruszewski, The Oder-Neisse Boundary and Poland’s Modernization (New
York: Praeger, 1972), 64.
Recapitulating: one should expect above-average and consis-
tently high levels of electoral support for the successor parties in
the regions that in pre-communist times were agrarian “crisis”
zones of latifundism and rural poverty and thus experienced
communism as an era of unprecedented economic development.
Conversely, variance in the successor vote may or may not be
correlated with post-communist regional socioeconomic status.
Indeed, unlike the economic-deterministic “peripheral” hypoth-
esis, the culturalist explanation of patterns of successor vote
claims that it is not current economic status but a specific type of
historical trajectory that primarily determines post-communist
regional political profiles. In empirical terms, variance in succes-
sor parties’ vote should be more systematically correlated to his-
torical variables denoting the type of historical experience
implied in “echoes of latifundism” hypothesis than to variables
denoting post-communist socioeconomic status.
Operationalizations and empirical evidence
My chief dependent variable, regional levels of support for the
successor left, is operationalized as the average (mean) percent-
age of votes received by the successor parties in post-communist
parliamentary elections between 1990 and 1998 in primary terri-
torial units (provinces).25 Using the mean is justified by a high
overall consistency in the territorial patterns of support for the
successor left in all of the countries under consideration.26 In Rus-
sia, finally, where presidential voting matters more than parlia-
mentary voting, I am using both presidential and parliamentary
vote as my dependent variable.
With regard to independent variables: pre-communist
latifundism is operationalized as a percentage of agricultural land
in estates larger than 50 hectares (ha) in Hungary, Poland, and
East Germany. The 50 ha threshold is based on the premise that,
East European Politics and Societies 21
25. The primary territorial units are Hungarian counties (N= 20), Polish provinces (N= 49),
German Länder (N= 6), and Russian subjects of the Federation (N= 89, but the number var-
ies depending on specific data).
26. In each country under consideration, the level of intercorrelation between percentages of
votes obtained by successor parties in territorial units of analysis across successive elec-
tions is very high.
given the pre-1945 level of technology, agricultural enterprises
larger than 50 ha could not be family farms as they had to operate
with at least seasonal use of hired labor, thus indicating the pres-
ence of agricultural proletariat. Russia presents a special difficulty
in this respect, as land ownership in prerevolutionary Russia was
reported not in terms of surface but according to traditional social
status of owners. However, the proportion of privately owned
land occupied by nobles, and ratio of peasant to noble
landholding in the early twentieth century can serve as measure-
ments of latifundism in pre-communist Russia.
The extent to which regions were penalized by the fall of com-
munism is operationalized by average unemployment rates.27
Absolute post-communist economic status of regions is mea-
sured by income per capita. Otherwise, when available and
relevant, I also use a host of other supportive measurements of re-
gional socioeconomic status both during and after communism.
What follows is a presentation of evidence from Hungary,
Poland, East Germany, and Russia. Each country has its special
characteristics, but, heeding Ken Jowitt’s call to avoid the trap of
cultural particularism,28 I will explain the peculiarities of each
case but focus on their commonalities.
The Hungarian pattern of correlations is presented in Table 2. As
can be seen, among the variables examined at the regional
(county) level of analysis, pre-communist latifundism repre-
sented by proportion of agricultural land in estates larger than 57
ha (100 cadastral holds) (Variable 1) is a significant correlate of
consistent vote for the Hungarian successor parties in 1990, 1994,
and 1998 parliamentary elections. Notably, the value of the corre-
lation coefficient increases when the independent variable is per-
centage of land in estates larger than 114 ha (200 cadastral holds)
22 Echoes of Latifundism?
27. Since no open unemployment existed under communism, post-communist unemployment
rates are among the best synthetic measures of the extent to which regions were economi-
cally penalized by the fall of communism.
28. Ken Jowitt, “Dizzy with Democracy,” Problems of Post-Communism, 43 (January/February
1996): 3-8.
(Variable 2) in 1935. Clearly, the correlation between the succes-
sor vote and latifundism is a statistical function of size of pre-
communist estates.
While pre-communist Hungary in general epitomized East-
Central European latifundism, large estates more than 50 ha in
surface dominated especially the area stretching from Budapest
to the country’s southwestern corner, corresponding to the coun-
ties of Fejér, Komárom, Somogy and Veszprém (see Figure 1).29
As of 1935 in this predominantly agrarian region, 36 percent of all
agricultural land was concentrated in gigantic holdings larger
than 500 ha.30 Consequently, given the nature of Hungarian 1945
East European Politics and Societies 23
Table 2. Correlations (Pearson’s r) of Successor Left Vote in
Hungarian National Parliamentary Elections,
Variable (N= 20) Coefficient
1. Proportion of agricultural land in estates larger
than 57 hectares (ha) (100 cadastral holds)
in 1935 .457*
2. Proportion of agricultural land in estates larger
than 114 ha (200 cadastral holds) in 1935 .709**
3. Average unemployment rate, 1996-98 .573**
4. Gross domestic product per capita, 1999 –.160
Note: The dependent variable is the average proportion of total valid votes received by the
successor left (combined MSZP and MSZMP in 1990, MSZP in 1994 and 1998) on the
party-list votes in the second round of 1990, 1994, and 1998 Hungarian parliamentary
elections as reported by Hungarian Ministry of the Interior, “Osszehasonlito ádatok az
1990 es 1994 évi országgyulesi kepvislovalasztasokrol,” (Budapest, June 1994); and
Hungarian Central Electoral Commission, “Round 2 of the Parliamentary Elections of
1998. Result on the Territorial Constituencies,” 28 May 1998,
v98din2a/tvker.html. Independent Variables 1 and 2 are derived from Principales
Données d’Exploitation de l’Agriculture de Hongrie en 1935 (Budapest: L’Office Cen-
tral Royal Hongrois de Statistique, 1937), 10-11. Data for Variable 3 are from Hungarian
Central Statistical Office, Yearbook of Health and Social Statistics 1997 and Yearbook
of Social Statistics 1998 (Budapest: Hungarian Central Statistical Office, 1999-2000).
Data for Variable 4 are provided online by the Hungarian Central Statistical Office
under the title “Hungarian Regions” at
counties/#b (November 2001).
*Significant at the .05 level. **Significant at the .01 level.
29. See Enyedi, Hungary, 13-14, 157-58, 204-6.
30. See Principales Données d’Exploitation, 10-11.
land reform, southeastern Hungary was the region where masses
of landless laborers benefited the most from the communist-led
1945 to 1947 land redistribution and later proved to be most
receptive to the early collectivization and “anti-kulak” campaigns
of 1948.31 This area’s agricultural proletariat also provided the
Hungarian Communist Party with a significant electoral support
in the 1945 elections.32 In the post-communist era, the county of
Somogy in the southeastern corner of the country has showed
the most consistent above-average levels of electoral support for
Hungarian successor left (see Figure 1). Conversely, right-wing
parties opposed to the successor left have dominated northwest-
ern and southeastern parts of the country characterized by tradi-
tions of small- and medium-holding peasant agriculture and a
history of political resistance to the communist imposition.33
24 Echoes of Latifundism?
Figure 1: Map of Hungary’s twenty counties ranked in
descending order of average electoral support given to
the successor parties in elections from 1990 to 1998
31. See Béla Fazekas, “Ötvenéves a Földreform,” Statistika Szemele 73:3(1995): 197-215;
Vasary, Beyond the Plan, 30-66; Szelényi, Socialist Entrepreneurs, 21, 183-89.
32. See Lajos Mádaj, “Az 1945-ös Nemzetgyülésiképiselöválasztások Néhány Eredménye,”
Statistika Szemele 71:3(1993): 267-75.
33. See Enyedi, Hungary, 53, 206, 247; and Kovács, “Geography of Hungarian,” 268.
A geographical overview of Hungarian voting patterns shows
that besides the southwest, there is a second zone of high elec-
toral support for the successor left in the northeastern corner of
the country, corresponding to the counties of Borsod-Abaúj-
Zemplén, Nógrád, Heves, and Szabolcs (see Figure 1). In pre-
communist times, most of this region (with the exception of
Szabolcs) was a zone of incipient industrial development, rural
poverty, and left-wing labor militancy.34 Significantly, in the
immediate postwar semifree elections of 1945 and 1947, the
Hungarian Communist Party (HCP) scored its highest electoral
pluralities (outside of Budapest) in the northeast.35 Also, dramatic
industrial expansion in the region occurred under communism,
as the centrally located city of Miskolc became the capital of the
country’s second largest (after Budapest) industrial district.36
In terms of rudimentary measures of post-communist eco-
nomic crisis (Variable 3: average unemployment rate from 1996
to 1998) unemployment, but not poverty, is significantly corre-
lated with support for the Hungarian successor left. Unemploy-
ment has most dramatically affected the industrial Northeast,
where it crossed the 15 percent rate by 1996. Poverty (Variable 4)
also remained the highest in the northeastern corner of the coun-
try, especially in Hungary’s traditionally poorest county of
In a test of partial correlation, Hungarian pre-communist
latifundism maintains its statistically significant correlation with
successor party vote when controlled for the 1996 to 1998 unem-
ployment rate (partial correlation coefficient = .74). Further par-
tial correlation testing confirmed that latifundism is a significant
variable that independently explains a significant proportion of
variance in the Hungarian successor vote when juxtaposed to
post-communist economic status as the control variable.37
East European Politics and Societies 25
34. See Enyedi, Hungary, 157-58, 204-6.
35. Specifically, in the counties of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, Békés, Nógrád, and Heves, where
the HCP obtained more than 25 percent of the vote. See Körösényi, “Revival of the Past or
New Beginning,” 181.
36. See Enyedi, Hungary, 157-58, 204-6, 247.
37. Pre-communist latifundism (as measured by percentage of agricultural land in estates over
114 ha) alone explains 38 percent of the variance in the 1990 to 1998 Hungarian successor
vote, while unemployment explains 33 percent. I also tested the correlation between Hun-
garian successor vote and a host of other socioeconomic variables, including rates of
The Polish case presents considerable complexity due to the
country’s large size and division into four historical regions corre-
sponding to the three former partitions: Russian, Prussian and
Austrian, and the ex-German recovered territories. This last area
was settled and “created from scratch” as a regional reality under
communism. Today, almost all of it with the exception of big cit-
ies—Szczecin, WrocÂaw, Gdan!sk, and Katowice, which are lib-
eral, antisuccessor enclaves38—shows above average levels of
electoral support for the successor left (see Figure 2). The north-
western and northeastern sections of the region were also the
only areas of Poland where state farms owned over half of arable
land.39 These state farms or PGRs, which were Poland’s primary
forms of socialized agriculture, were often established on the old
Junker estates,40 representing a sui generis case of structural con-
tinuity with pre-communist latifundism.
Within the “old” (1918-39) pre-communist territories of
Poland,41 large-scale agriculture and the accompanying agricul-
tural proletarians were concentrated in two geographically con-
tiguous but historically distinct areas: (1) the northwestern corner
of the former Russian partition corresponding to 1975 through
26 Echoes of Latifundism?
urbanization and industrialization under communism and pre- and post-communist occu-
pational status, all of which proved to be insignificant. However, post-communist (1997-98)
infant mortality rates were a significant correlate of the successor vote. I factor-loaded
unemployment (1996-97) and infant mortality rates (1997-98) into a latent variable “post-
communist socioeconomic status,” (factor-loading values r= .63 for unemployment and
r= .61 for infant mortality), which correlated highly with successor vote variable (standard-
ized regression coefficient R= .90), explaining 82 percent of variance. However, in a test of
partial correlation, latifudism (percentage of land in holdings over 114 ha) juxtaposed to
“post-communist economic status” maintained its significance at R= .49. “Post-communist
socioeconomic status” and latifundism together explained 98 percent of variance in the
successor vote; thus, 16 percent of the variance explained can be attributed to latifundism
38. See Tomasz Grabowski, “Individualism Unbound,” (manuscript, University of California at
Berkeley, 1998), chap. 1.
39. It was the case in Olsztyn, ElblaÔg, Zielona Góra, SÂupsk, Gorzów, Koszalin, and Szczecin
provinces. Based on GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny, Rocznik statystyczny województw 1990
(Warszawa: GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny, 1991).
40. See Korbon!ski, Politics of Socialist Agricultur e, 88.
41. I excluded from my analysis the easternmost kresy (borderlands) of pre-communist Poland,
as they were taken over by the Soviet Union the result of World War II. These ethnically
mixed areas included Poland’s most gigantic landed estates. The kresy Polish population
migrated mostly to the ex-German recovered territories.
1998 WÂocÂawek and Ciechanów provinces and (2) the former
Prussian partition (see Figure 2). As of 1931, in all these areas
landed estates larger than 50 ha occupied between 30 and 45 per-
cent of arable land.42 When one looks at even older historical pat-
terns within the former Russian partition, it appears that
WÂocÂawek province was the zone of most concentrated
latifundism. In 1909, more than half of all agricultural land in this
area was in estates larger than 100 ha.43 Remarkably, today
WÂocÂawek is Poland’s most consistent successor “stronghold”
(see Figure 2).
In 1944 and 1945, the Polish communist regime captured the
loyalty of agricultural proletarians with a strategically executed
land reform and “colonization” of the recovered territories.44 As
was the case in all the countries under consideration, the newly
endowed peasants became the regime’s most faithful clientele
during the 1945 through 1948 struggles to establish the commu-
nist rule and the subsequent (1948-56) failed collectivization
campaign.45 The former latifundia were also the only places
where the communist-sponsored collective farms (spóÂdzielnie
produkcyjne) persisted after 1956.46
Evidence provided by Paul Burns also indicates that develop-
mental gaps between Polish regions diminished significantly
under communism, while its fall was accompanied by quickly
opening regional disparities, especially between rural and urban
areas.47 The zones of “new” post-communist poverty appeared
particularly in the northwestern and northeastern sections of the
recovered territories, where the collapse of state farms resulted in
a greater than 20 percent unemployment rate by 1994.48
East European Politics and Societies 27
42. Based on Glówny Urzad Statystyczny Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej. Statystyka rolnicza 1931/
32, Statystyka Polski, Seria B, vol. 10 (Warszawa, Poland: GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny
Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, 1933).
43. Regina Chomac!,Struktura agrarna Królestwa Polskiego na przeÂomie XIX i XX wieku
(Warszawa, Poland: Pan!stwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1970), 85.
44. See Korbon!ski, Politics of Socialist, 90-95.
45. See Korbon!ski, Politics of Socialist, 177-79; and Jarosz, Polityka wÂadz, 107-16.
46. See Korbon!ski, Politics of Socialist, 258; Jarosz, Polityka w Âadz, 151-52. Poland was the only
communist country where the collectivization campaign completely failed.
47 See Burns, Spatial Inequality, 67-88; and Marczyn!ska-Witczak and Michalski, Przestrzenne
i czasowe zrótz³nicowanie, 26-65.
48. Based on GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny, Rocznik statystyczny 1995 (Warszawa, Poland:
GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny, 1995).
Overall, the Polish pattern of correlations is consistent with my
hypothesis (Table 3). Pre-communist latifundism (Variables 1 and
2) and communist state farming (Variable 3) are significant corre-
lates of the successor vote. Like in Hungary, regional unemploy-
ment rates in Poland are significant positive correlates of succes-
sor vote (Variable 4). However, successor vote is statistically
unrelated to a comprehensive measure of absolute change in
regional socioeconomic status between 1990 and 1994 as calcu-
lated by Ewa Marczyn!ska-Witczak and Wojciech Michalski in
their 1996 study of changes in patterns of post-communist
regional inequality (Variable 5). Just like in the Hungarian case,
the Polish successor vote is also unrelated to regional levels of
28 Echoes of Latifundism?
Figure 2: Map of Poland’s forty-nine Voivodships ranked in
descending order of electoral support given to the suc-
cessor left in elections from 1991 to 1998
gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (Variable 6). In a test of
partial correlation within the “old” (pre-1945) territories of
Poland, pre-communist latifundism maintains its statistically sig-
nificant correlation with successor vote when controlled for
unemployment (partial correlation coefficient = .53). Further par-
tial testing of socioeconomic variables revealed that latifundism
maintains its significance when controlling for different measure-
ments of post-communist socioeconomic status of regions.49
Statistical tests also revealed the importance of cultural and
structural variables specific to Poland: Catholicism, low percent-
age of migrant population, and presence of small-scale private
farming, all of which correlate negatively with the successor vote.
As all of these variables were highly intercorrelated, I factor-
loaded them and created a latent variable, “traditional rural com-
munity,” which correlated significantly and negatively with Pol-
ish successor vote (R= –.78) explaining 60 percent of variance.50
In regional terms, the pattern revealed especially the strength of
antisuccessor vote in the area of the former Austrian partition or
Galicia where the communist regime met with a fierce resistance
of politically mobilized communities of small-holding peasants in
East European Politics and Societies 29
49. On its own, pre-communist latifundism explains 33 percent of variance in the successor
vote in the “old” territories of Poland, whereas unemployment in the same area explains 14
percent of variance. Just like in the Hungarian case, I tested for correlations between Polish
successor vote and a host of independent variables denoting socioeconomic status of
regions before, during, and after communism. Similarly, also, I factor-loaded infant mortal-
ity (1990) (factor load r= .54) and unemployment (1994-96) (factor load = r= .46) to create
a latent variable “post-communist economic status,” which correlated highly (R= .80) with
successor vote and could explain 64 percent of the variance. Latifundism, however, main-
tained its significance (R= .35) when controlling for “post-communist economic status.”
Together, latifundism and “post-communist economic status” explained 78 percent of the
variance. Fourteen percent of the variance in the regression can be thus attributed to
50. Secularism was measured by number of Catholic priests by ten thousand inhabitants in
1985, while small scale farming was measured by percentage of farms 1-5 ha in size, both
based on GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny, Rocznik statystyczny województw 1990. Migration,
in turn, was measured by percentage of population born in a given locality in 1988 as
reported by GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny, Narodowy spis powszechny. Migracje ludnos ci w
Polsce w latach 1979-1988 (Warszawa, Poland: GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny, 1992). I
obtained the following factor-loading values, Catholicism, r= .79; population stability, r=
.77; and small-scale peasant agriculture, r= .82. However, I could not conduct a test of par-
tial correlation between “traditional community” and latifundism, given a high (r= –.77)
level of intercorrelation between the two variables and the problem of multicollinearity.
Still, latifundism tested positively for significance when controlled for Catholicism (partial
correlation coefficient r= .36), migration (partial correlation coefficient r= .44), and small-
scale peasant farming (partial correlation coefficient r= .33).
the immediate postwar period and where antisuccessor right has
its Polish stronghold.51 Statistically, traditional rural community
and latifundism were strongly and negatively correlated (–.77).
However, latifundism maintained its statistical significance when
30 Echoes of Latifundism?
Table 3. Correlations (Pearson’s r) of Successor Left Vote in
Polish Sejm Elections, 1991-97
Variable (N = 49 unless marked otherwise) Coefficient
1. Percentage of arable land in private farms
larger than 50 hectares (ha) in 1931 within the
“old” (1918-39) territories of Poland (N= 39) .582**
2. Percentage of agricultural land in holdings
larger than 100 ha in the Russian partition of
Poland in 1909 (N= 24) .414*
3. Percentage of state-owned arable land in 1990 .529**
4. Average unemployment rate, 1994-96 .472**
5. Synthetic measure of change in regional
socioeconomic status between 1990 and 1994 .094
6. Gross domestic product per capita, 1999 .093
Note: The dependent variable is the is the average proportion of total valid votes received
by the successor left (Alliance of Democratic Left or SLD) in the 1991, 1993, and 1997
Polish parliamentary elections. The source for 1991, 1993, and 1997 electoral data is
StanisÂaw Gebethner, “Aneks. Zestawienie wyników wyborów do Sejmu w roku 1991 i
1993 w 52 okraÔgach w granicach z roku 1993,” in Wybory parlamentarne a polska
scena polityczna, ed. StanisÂaw Gebethner (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Sejmowe,
1995); and Rzeczpospolita, 2 October 1997, “Informacja of wynikach wyborów
wedÂug okreñgów wyborczych.” Variable 1 is derived from GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny,
Statystyka rolnicza 1931/32. Variable 2 is based on Chomac!,Struktura agrarna, 85.
Data for Variable 3 are from GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny, Rocznik statystyczny
województw 1990. Variable 4 is calculated based on GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny,
Rocznik statystyczny 1995 (Warszawa: GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny, 1995); and
Rocznik statystyczny 1997 (Warszawa: GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny, 1997). Variable 5
isbasedonMarczy!ska-Witczak and Michalski, Przestrzenne i czasowe
zróz³nicowanie. Variable 6 is based on GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny, Rocznik
Statystyczny Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej (Warszawa: GÂówny UrzaÔd Statystyczny, 2000).
*Significant at the .05 level. **Significant at the .01 level.
51. Galicia was the traditional fortress of Polish pre-communist agrarian Populism. See Olga
Narkiewicz, The Green Flag. Polish Populist Politics 1867-1970 (London: Rowman &
Littlefield, 1976). Consequently, during the 1945 to 1947 period, the region became a hot-
bed of anticommunist Polish Populist Party (PSL). See Romuald Turkowski, Polskie
Stronnictwo Ludowe w obronie demokracji (Warszawa, Poland: Wydawnictwo Sejmowe,
1992), 72.
controlling for variables constitutive of traditional rural
East Germany
East Germany’s northern Länder of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
and Brandenburg (East Berlin being a special case)53 registered
above-average rates of electoral support for the PDS consistently
in 1990, 1994 and 1998 national parliamentary elections (see Fig-
ure 3).54 Northern East Germany followed the familiar historical
trajectory that included pre-communist latifundism, communist-
led land reform resulting in political “capture” of the region’s
agricultural proletarians by the Leninist regime, and substantial
urban and industrial development under the GDR. Empirically,
variables associated with these historical patterns determine the
variance in regional levels of PDS support far better than post-
1990 economic variables (see Table 4).
With more than half of their agricultural land in estates larger
than 100 hectares, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and northeastern
Brandenburg constituted the heartland (Kernland) of lati-
fundism in pre-communist East Germany.55 Northern East Ger-
many was also dramatically affected by the war and its immediate
aftermath. East Berlin and parts of Brandenburg were virtually
wiped out by the advancing Red Army and filled with war refu-
gees. In the meantime, expellees from the ex-German territories
East European Politics and Societies 31
52. I could not conduct a test of partial correlation between “traditional community” and
latifundism, given the high level of intercorrelation between the two variables and the
problem of multicollinearity. Still, latifundism tested positively for significance when con-
trolled for Catholicism (partial correlation coefficient r= .36), migration (partial correlation
coefficient r= .44), and small-scale peasant farming (partial correlation coefficient r= .33).
53. East Berlin, because of its unique status as the GDR’s former capital, is PDS’s primary elec-
toral fortress and in most of its Bezirke (districts), the party has consistently achieved plural-
ities of more than 30 percent of the total vote. See Joanna McKay, “The Wall in the Ballot
Box: The Berlin Election of 1995,” German Politics 5:2(August 1996): 276-91, and “Berlin-
Brandenburg? Nein Danke! The Referendum on the Proposed Länderfusion,” Ger man Poli-
tics 5:3(December 1996): 485-502.
54. The 1990 elections to the Volkskammer were the only fully free elections in the still sover-
eign East Germany. The 1994 and 1998 elections were to the all-Ger man Bundestag.
55. Based on Statisticher Reichsamt, Statistiches Jahrbuch, 5. See also Kuntsche, “Bodenreform
in einem Kernland,” 53.
taken over by Poland literally flooded Mecklenburg, which was
spared major wartime destruction.56
Given its historical pattern of latifundism and substantial refu-
gee/expellee population, northern East Germany was uniquely
prone to communist measures aimed at clientelistic political cap-
ture. The region’s small peasants, former agricultural proletarians
and expellees who benefited from the 1945 land reform, became
32 Echoes of Latifundism?
56. In Mecklenburg the expellees represented 42 percent of the population in 1946, which was
the highest proportion in all postwar Germany; see Roy Mellor, The Two Germanies: A
Modern Geography (London: Harper & Row, 1978), 164. In Brandenburg, the proportion of
refugees and expellees reached 38.9 percent of inhabitants by 1947; see Bauerkämper,
“Structurumbruch,” 73.
Figure 3: Map of East German six Länder ranked in descending
order of electoral support given to the PDS in elections
from 1990 to 1998
politically wedded to the new regime and gave the German com-
munists dominant pluralities of votes in the semifree regional and
national elections of 1946. It was especially the case in
Mecklenburg, where the SED won 49.5 percent of the Landtag
vote in 1946.57 Prompted by difficulties of individual farming
among physical and cultural infrastructure of latifundism, the
“new” peasants also easily accepted collective farming in the
early 1950s.58
Northern East Germany was also the area where the highest
relative degree of urban and industrial development took place
under the GDR. Mecklenburg, especially, became the object of
the most consciously political GDR developmental efforts, which
involved the construction of shipyards and new port facilities in
Rostock. Postwar reconstruction and development of
Brandenburg and East Berlin followed the same pattern albeit
more in response to the objective economic imperatives of the
preferred model of industrialization aimed at self-sufficiency.59
The fall of the GDR and German unification affected all of East
Germany dramatically and negatively in terms of unemployment
and self-sustainable economic life. However, for unique reasons
East German agriculture initially suffered less dislocation than
the country’s industry.60 As Mecklenburg and Brandenburg were
the most agricultural among former East German regions, their
transition to the new system was thus relatively benign. All the
same, by the end of 1990s, the northern part of former East
Germany, with the exception of East Berlin, registered above-average
rates of unemployment.61
East European Politics and Societies 33
57. It was especially the case in Mecklenburg, where the SED won 49.5 percent of the Landtag
vote in 1946. See Kuntsche, “Bodenreform in einem Kernland,” 63; and Bauerkämper,
“Structurumbruch,” 83.
58. See Kuntsche, “Bodenrefor m in einem Kernland,” 67; Bauerkämper, “Structurumbruch,”
59. See especially William Berentsen’s article, “Regional Change,” 56-57.
60. Agricultural collectives often continued under the new legal forms, while their financial
reserves were converted into hard currency at favorable rates. East German agricultural
productivity also compares favorably with West Germany. See Joachim Singelman, Agricul-
tural Transformation and Social Change in a County in East Germany, Rural Sociology
Research Report, vol. 5 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1994).
61. See Stephen Silvia, “The Causes of Declining Unemployment in Germany. Can the
Schröder Government Take Credit?” published online by American Institute for Contempo-
rary German Studies, Johns Hopkins University, 2000, www.aicgs.or g., 4.
The German pattern of correlations is presented in Table 4.
Although, because of variability in units of analysis, I was forced
to perform my tests at the crude level of six East German Länder,
history of latifundism is the most solid correlate of regional vari-
ance in PDS vote and, on its own, explains 98 percent of vari-
ance. However, because of the small n, it is difficult for me to
control for the remaining variables, which are more suggestive
than constitutive of a rigorous statistical proof. Remarkably, the
developmental variable measured as the increase in the propor-
tion of industrial population between 1939 and 1968 (Variable 3)
shows a very strong correlation with the PDS vote, which is also
positively correlated to the proportion of expellees in total popu-
lation in 1946 (Variable 2). The 1999 East German unemployment
34 Echoes of Latifundism?
Table 4. Correlations (Pearson’s r) of the PDS Vote in the
1990 to 1998 National Parliamentary Elections
Variables (N= 6 unless marked otherwise) Coefficient
1. Percentage of land in agricultural enterprises
larger than 50 hectares (ha) in 1933 .943**
2. Expellees as the percentage of population, 1946 .236
3. Increase in the proportion of industrial
population (1939-68) (N= 5, excluding already
fully industrial East Berlin) .626
4. Average income per capita, 1997-99 .594
5. Unemployment rate in 1999 –.252
Note: The dependent variable is the average percentage of total votes for the PDS in 1990
Volkskammer and 1994, 1998 Bundestag elections based on electoral reports provided
online by the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies,
wahlen/. Variable 1 is based on Statisticher Reichsamt, Statistiches Jahrbuch für das
Deutsche Reich 1938 (Berlin: Verlag für Sozialpolitik, Wirtschaft and Statistik, 1938), 5.
Variable 2 is taken from Roy Mellor, The Two Germanies: A Modern Geography (Lon-
don: Harper & Row, 1978), 164. Variable 3 is calculated based on H. Kohl, G. Jacob, H.
J. Kramm, W. Roubitschek, and G. Schmidt-Renner, Ökonomische Geographie der
Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, Band 1 (Gotha/Leipzig: VEB Herman Haack,
Geographisch-Kartographische Anstalt, 1976), 17-53. Variable 4 is based on data pro-
vided by the European Statistical Office online on 13-29 January 2002, “Regional GDP
per Capita in the EU and the Candidate Countries in 1999,”
eurostat/Public/datashop. Variable 5, finally, is taken from the Web site of the
Statisticher Ämter des Bundes und der Länder,
**Significant at the .01 level.
rate (Variable 5) is negatively correlated with the PDS vote mostly
because East Berlin, the party’s electoral stronghold, has also reg-
istered the lowest unemployment rate among the former GDR
regions. Berlin’s relative wealth also explains the positive corre-
lation between successor vote and regional measures of per
capita income (Variable 4). Generally, as the relevant literature
shows, the PDS is not a party of “economic losers” but a sort of
“regionalist” middle-class party,62 attracting among its middle-
aged and older voters people whose world, sometimes quite lit-
erally, was built by the GDR.63
The Russian successor belt contains areas roughly south of
the 55°N parallel that incorporate the following geographic-
economic regions: Central Russia south of Moscow, Central Cher-
nozem, Volga, Volgo-Vyatka, Northern Caucasus, Western Sibe-
ria, and southern parts of Eastern Siberia (see Figure 4).64 This
zone is generally agricultural and corresponds roughly to the fer-
tile “Black Earth” (Chernozem) belt of Russia, but it also includes
industrial centers, most importantly a coal-mining oblast’ (dis-
trict) of Kemerovo in West Siberia.
The Russian successor belt contains several autonomous
republics or districts of non-Russian ethnic minorities, especially
in North Caucasus. In these areas, the KPRF scored the highest
pluralities of votes, but they also gave evidence of high electoral
volatility. Most important, there is compelling evidence that votes
in these autonomous ethnic areas are secured through fraud and
patronage by regional bosses, who switch their political alle-
giance at will back and forth between the KPRF and “proreform”
forces.65 As such, North Caucasus is not representative of a typical
East European Politics and Societies 35
62. See various articles in Peter Baker, ed., Party of Democratic Socialism.
63. On the local level, the GDR-built Grosse Siedlungen epitomize the typical PDS stamping
ground. These are huge integrated assemblies of large apartment buildings, housing up to
sixty thousand people. See Jones, The New Germany, 30.
64. See Slider, Gimple’son, and Churov, “Political Tendencies”; and Ralph Clem and Peter
Craumer, “Urban-Rural Voting.”
65. See Jerry Hough, “The Political Geography of European Russia: Republics and Oblasts,”
Post-Soviet Geography and Economics 39:2(1998): 63-95.
Russian successor zone, which is epitomized far better by the
ethnically Russian Central Chernozem region.
Why does the agricultural southern Russia vote for the succes-
sor left, while the industrial and urban North is more inclined to
support the new order? Russian peasants were, according to a
common notion, the most victimized group in the Soviet political
and economic order, and the idea that rural Russia would be the
stronghold of the country’s successor left presents a puzzle.66
Two answers, one focusing on economic and one on cultural
dimensions of the phenomenon, can be found in the literature.
Joan Urban and Valerii Solovei maintain that the Soviet
regime’s aggression left the Russian countryside inhabited by
“the dregs of the Russian peasant society,” whose “irrational,”
instinctive cultural backwardness constitutes a chief obstacle
against the country’s “return to Europe.” This image of a conser-
vative, agrarian, or even “Asiatic” periphery fighting a rear-guard
action against the modernizing, urban, or “European” core
underlies other cultural explanations of the Russia’s successor
belt. This notion is also compatible with the fact that older rural
voters form the KPRF’s core constituency.67
The other, economic-deterministic explanation of rural Rus-
sia’s procommunist political tendencies focuses on a rough con-
gruence between post-communist economic status of regions
and the voting patterns. The agricultural sector in Russia, just as
in the other post-communist societies, was devastated by the
market reforms. Southern Russia has also had a high concentra-
tion of light and machine industries, penalized by the collapse of
their internal markets. This general correlation lends credibility
to the idea that the only significant cleavage in Russia’s post-com-
munist politics is economic and revolves around acceptance or
hostility toward market reforms.68
36 Echoes of Latifundism?
66. See Joan Urban and Valerii Solovei, Russia’s Communists at the Crossr oads (Boulder, CO:
Westview, 1997), 187.
67. See Urban and Solovei, Russia ’s Communists, 186-89; O’Loughlin, Shin, and Talbot, “Politi-
cal Geographies”; and Reisinger, Miller, and Hesli, “Ideological Divisions,” 147-51.
68. See Walter Connor, “Observation on the Status of Russia’s Workers,” Post-Soviet Geography
and Economics 38:9(1997): 551; Van Selm, “Economic Performance,”; and Whitefield and
Evans, “The Emerging Structure.”
However, while the data confirm both the culturalist and eco-
nomic-deterministic theses, a significant part of the variance
remains unexplained. General structural factors, such as agricul-
tural character, of the regions are indeed strongly correlated with
the KPRF vote, but evidence shows that specific detrimental
effects of the market reforms, such as fall in industrial produc-
tion, unemployment, and real incomes are actually negatively
correlated with variance in KPRF vote.69 There is also no correla-
tion between lower household incomes or percentage of house-
holds at or below subsistence and the Russian successor vote.70
All of this evidence, plus the presence in the Russian successor
belt of the relatively “prosperous” coal-mining Kemerovo
oblast’,71 seem to lend credibility to Urban and Solovei’s notion
that southern Russians’ vote for the KPRF is motivated by “irratio-
East European Politics and Societies 37
Figure 4: Map of Russia’s eleven geographic-economic regions
ranked in descending order of electoral support given
to the successor parties in Duma elections from 1993
to 1995
69. In general, the so-called “conservative” regions seem to be doing no worse than “liberal”
ones. See Van Selm, “Economic Performance.”
70. See White, Rose, and McAllister, How Russia Votes, 145.
71. Mining, fuel, and electrical energy industries emerged as the relatively best-perfor ming sec-
tors of the Russian economy. See Gertrude Schroeder, “Dimensions of Russia’s Industrial
Transformation 1992 to 1998: An Overview,” Post-Soviet Geography and Economics
39:5(1998): 243-70; and Van Selm, “Economic Performance.”
nal” cultural conservatism rather than especially harsh economic
fallout from communism’s collapse.
An examination of Russia’s successor belt’s historical trajec-
tory, however, reveals a pattern strikingly similar to the other
country-cases. The Chernozem belt of Russia had constituted the
country’ agrarian “crisis zone” since the latter half of 19th century.
This region was mostly conquered and exploited in the course of
Muscovy’s imperial expansion in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries. Huge, private latifundia and an especially harsh form
of serfdom based on coercive exploitation of labor (barshchina)
dominated this region in the eighteenth century. This exploit-
ative reality did not substantially improve in the aftermath of the
1861 abolition of serfdom, as the peasants of south-central Russia
were beset by insufficiency of their land allotments and contin-
ued to depend on the landlords for outside income and land nec-
essary for subsistence. Their poverty was further compounded
by the population explosion that Russia experienced in the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Overpopulated and
with exhausted soils, south-central Russia became the country’s
chief “crisis zone” of rural out-migration and unrest.72 When in
1917 and 1918, Russian peasants redistributed all privately held
land according to their communal egalitarian principles, it was
their great historical vindication, especially in Chernozem zone.73
Given its poverty and traditions of communal egalitarianism,
Chernozem Russia was the area where the Soviet antikulak and
collectivization campaigns found their most favorable cultural
background and social allies, especially among the rural poor.74
The campaigns were admittedly genocidal, but Stalin reserved
his utmost brutality for the geographically peripheral areas of the
Soviet Union: Ukraine, North Caucasus, West Siberia, and
Kazakhstan, where prosperous peasantry or independent
38 Echoes of Latifundism?
72. See Grigory Ioffe and Tatyana Nefedova, Continuity and Change in Rural Russia. A Geo-
graphical Perspective (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1997); George Pavlovsky, Agricultural Rus-
sia on the Eve of Revolution (New York: Howard Fertig, 1968); W. H. Parker, A Historical
Geography of Russia (Chicago: Aldine, 1968); Martin Gilbert, Atlas of Russian History (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1993); and Lewis and Rowland, Population Redistribution,
73. See Ioffe and Nefedova, Continuity and Change in Rural Russia, 200.
74. Ibid., 60-62.
nomads posed the greatest challenges to the Soviet control.75
Moreover, the Stalinist breakneck industrialization and urbaniza-
tion concentrated in eastern and northern Russia, while the Cher-
nozem region was treated with “benign” neglect.76 However, it
experienced a tremendous outflow of population, which was a
needed relief in the heavily overpopulated area.77
Whatever the Stalinist experience, it is also important to recall
that a median Russian voter simply does not remember Stalin, as
her or his “socialization” occurred under Khrushchev and, more
importantly, Brezhnev.78 Under Khrushchev, Soviet central plan-
ners reversed Stalin’s policies of neglect of south-central Russia.
Between 1959 and 1970, this region experienced the highest rate
of urbanization and industrialization in Russia. This trend contin-
ued after 1970, albeit less intensely. Even though south-central
Russia was still predominantly rural, its urban, industrial, and
rural economic development was substantial.79 At the same time,
a general developmental gap between rural southern and urban
northern Russia remained.80 However, “market reforms” in Rus-
sia, as elsewhere in post-communist Eastern Europe, marked the
abandonment of any efforts to close regional developmental
gaps, which quickly increased.81 Voters from southern Russian
have taken account of this reality. Indeed, their allegiance to the
KPRF is, arguably, not an expression of “irrational” conservatism
East European Politics and Societies 39
75. See Robert Conquest, The Harvest of Sorr ow. Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).
76. It is not my intention to deny the brutality of Bolshevik-Stalinist warfare against Russian
peasants. In comparative terms, however, the Soviet treatment of south-central Russia was
77. See Lewis and Rowland, Population Redistribution, 51, 59, 72, 205.
78. See White, Rose, and McAllister, How Russia Votes, xii.
79. Ioffe and Nefedova wrote specifically about the Central Cher nozem region:
It is hard to escape the feeling that socialist-style collective farming has been more accepted
here than almost anywhere else in Russia, certainly more than in non-Chernozem zone.
After all, agriculturally speaking the region has grown form one of the most backward into
one of the most successful in Russia. (Ioffe and Nefedova, Continuity and Change in
Rural Russia, 202)
80. See Lewis and Rowland, Population Redistribution, 16, 72, 200, 225, 359-70, 406; Ioffe and
Nefedova, Continuity and Change in Rural Russia, 201-2.
81. See Phillip Hanson, “Understanding Regional Patterns of Economic Change in Post-Com-
munist Russia,” in Russian Regions. Economic Growth and Environment, ed. Takashi
Murakami and Sinchiro Tabata (Hokkaido, Japan: Slavic Research Center, 2000), 5-42.
but an understandable reaction to their collective historical
memory and experience.
The pattern of Russian correlations, presented in Table 5, con-
firms the empirical validity of the outlined historical trajectory in
determining regional variance in KPRF vote. The party, both in
presidential and parliamentary elections,82 enjoys the highest
electoral support in areas characterized, in prerevolutionary
times, by the persistence of noble latifundism (Variables 1 and 2)
coupled to peasants’ land hunger (Variables 3 and 4) motivated
by insufficiency of their allotments (Variable 5) and rural over-
population (Variable 6).83 In terms of communist-era develop-
mental variables, increase in the percentage of urban population
between 1959 and 1970 is also a good correlate of the KPRF vote
(Variable 7), but only after eliminating the outlying case of North
Caucasus. Finally, most indicators of economic distress in the
1990s Russia (Variables 8 through 11) are significant but negative
correlates of variance in KPRF electoral support, effectively nulli-
fying the notion that regional “economic losers” are the party’s
primary electorate and presenting a puzzle—why, indeed,
should relatively better-off regions vote for the KPRF?
To test what overall percentage of variance in successor votes
is explained by the syndrome of pre-communist latifudism, I factor-
loaded Variables 1 through 6 to create a latent “precommunist
rural crisis and latifundism” variable84 and correlated it to the
mean KPRF vote in 1993 through 1995 elections. The value of the
standardized correlation coefficient (R) was .5, explaining 25
percent of the variance. In a test of partial correlation, rural crisis
and latifundism maintained its significance when controlled for
all the contemporary socioeconomic variables, including, most
significantly, percentage of rural population in 1994 (partial cor-
relation coefficient = .47). In comparison to precommunist rural
crisis and latifundism that could explain 25 percent of the vari-
40 Echoes of Latifundism?
82. Mean KPRF vote in 1993 to 1995 Duma elections and Zyuganov’s vote in the second round
of presidential elections were highly intercorrelated (r= .772).
83. Variables 1 through 6 pertain to agrarian development in 35 provinces of European Russia
during the pre-1917 era.
84. I obtained the following factor-loading values (r): Variable 1, r= .58, Variable 2 (recalcu-
lated to correlate positively with the latent variable), r= .51; Variable 3, r= .99; Variable 4, r
= .81; Variable 5, r= .46; and Variable 6, r= .91.
East European Politics and Societies 41
Table 5. Correlations (Pearson’s r) of Successor Left Votes in
the 1993 to 1995 Duma Elections and 1996 Presi-
dential Election
Correlation Correlation
Coefficient, Coefficient,
Variable (N= 35 unless Duma Presidential
marked otherwise) Elections Election
1. Proportion of privately owned
land occupied by nobles in 1905 .383* .418*
2. Ratio of peasant to nobles land-
holding, early twentieth century –.388* –.416*
3. Sale prices of land in 1900 (rubles
per desatina) .383* .448*
4. Rate of growth of land prices,
1885-1910 (rubles per year) .610** .698**
5. Ratio of land rented by peasants
to peasant allotment land, early
twentieth century .404* .445**
6. Rural population density per
square vorst, 1914 .465** .577**
7. Increase in the level of urbanization
by economic region, 1959-70
(N= 10, without North Caucasus) .756** .628
8. Industrial production in 1993 as a
percentage of 1990 (N= 87) –.290* –.128
9. Average unemployment rate,
1992-95 (N= 79) –.228* –.333*
10. Average incomes deflated by
subsistence minimum,
1995-98 (N= 88) –.226* –.288*
11. Percentage of households at or
below subsistence,
1994-95 (N= 74) .105 .146
12. Rural population as a percentage
of total population, 1994 (N= 87) .323** .294**
Note: For the 1993 election, the percentage contains the combined percentage of party-list
vote for the KPRF and the Agrarian Party. Given a weak showing of the AP in the 1995
election, for that year I took only the KPRF vote to calculate the mean. For the presi-
dential election, I used the percentage of votes for Zyuganov in the second round of
ance, contemporary ruralness could explain only 10 percent of
variance in the 1993 to 1995 KPRF vote.
This inquiry started with an empirical problem. There seemed
to be no framework to provide a comprehensive cultural-
deterministic comparative elucidation of regional variance in
successor party vote in post-communist Eastern and East-Central
Europe. My exploration resulted in an answer. Regions where
communism built its own order on the pre-communist legacy of
bitterness and poverty today show above-average levels of elec-
toral support for the parties symbolically representing the com-
munist system. This framework allows a contextual and historical
understanding of regional variance in the successor vote.
The investigation points to historical legacies of latifundism
and its “path-dependent” posterity as one of the primary factors
in explaining the regional patterns of vote. In each country under
consideration, the regions where successor parties obtained the
highest average percentages of votes in post-communist elec-
tions were, in pre-communist times, dominated by large landed
estates. It was the case of Somogy in Hungary, Mecklenburg in
Germany, WÂocÂawek in Poland and (if North Caucasus is elimi-
nated) Central Chernozem in Russia.
42 Echoes of Latifundism?
Table 5 (continued)
the 1996 presidential election as reported by the Russian Central Electoral Commission
online, Variables 1 through 5 are taken from I.
D. Koval’chenko and L. I. Borodkin, “Two Paths of Bourgeois Agrarian Evolution in
European Russia: An Essay in Multivariate Analysis,” in Quantitative Studies in Agrar-
ian History, ed. Morton Rothstein and Daniel Fields (Ames: Iowa State University,
1993), 259-260. Variable 6 is from Rossiyskaya Akademya Nauk. Institut Rossiyskoy
Istorii, Rossiya 1913 God (Sankt’ Peterburg: BLIC, 1995), 18-20. Variable 7 is derived
from Robert Lewis and Richard Rowland, Population Redistribution in the USSR (New
York: Praeger, 1979), 204. Variable 8 is taken from Goskomstat, Rossiyskii
Statisticheskii Ezhegodnik 1994 (Moskva: Goskomstat Rossii, 1994), 612-15. Variable 9
is from Goskomstat, Trud in Zanyatost’ v Rossii, (Moskva: Goskomstat Rossii, 1996),
148-51. Variable 10 is from Goskomstat, Regiony Rossii (Moskva: Goskomstat Rossii,
1999). Variable 11 is based on Goskomstat, Uroven’ Zhizni Naselenya Rossii (Moskva:
Goskomstat Rossii, 1996), 94-95. Variable 12, finally, is taken from Goskomstat,
Rossiyskii Statisticheskii Ezhegodnik 1994.
*Significant at the .05 level. **Significant at the .01 level.
Like Hegel’s owl of Minerva, post-communist electoral pat-
terns permit one to retrospectively reconstruct and understand
social foundations of communist regimes. In the countries under
consideration, substantial social groups at the bottom layer of
pre-communist social hierarchy were co-opted by Leninism and
remain faithful to its political legacy even after the system’s
death. Especially agricultural proletarians and poor peasants,
whether continuing to work on state or collective farms, migrat-
ing to the communist-built urban centers, making careers as party
apparatchiks, or working on private plots of land owed to com-
munist land reforms, constituted one of the backbones of the
communist order. This can be seen clearly only today.
One possible predictive conclusion of my “worlds that com-
munism built” framework is that the successor parties are con-
demned to remain in their perhaps substantial but nevertheless
closed electoral ghettos. Just like their constituencies, these par-
ties can be presumed remnants of the past. In the newly emerg-
ing realities, the successor left and identities it represents will be
increasingly anachronistic.
This conclusion, however, is based on the early post-commu-
nist elections and does not take into account the parties’ various
strategies of adaptation, organizational structures, and ideolo-
gies.85 To the extent that Polish and Hungarian successor parties
clearly disassociated themselves from their communist past, their
electoral basis may increasingly move away from closed constitu-
encies defined by history.86 Significantly, in the 2001-02 electoral
cycle, these parties achieved electoral success.87 Conversely, the
East European Politics and Societies 43
85. See various articles, especially Daniel Ziblatt, “Two Paths of Change? HowFormer Commu-
nist Parties Remade Themselves after Communism’s Collapse,” in Communist Successor
Parties in Post-Communist Politics, ed. John Ishiyama (Huntington, NY: Nova Science Pub-
lishing, 1999), 71-99; Anna Grzymala-Busse, Redeeming the Communist Past (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2002); and Mitchell Orenstein, “A Genealogy of Communist
Successor Parties in East-Central Europe and the Determinants of Their Success,” East Euro-
pean Politics and Societies 12:3(Fall 1998): 472-99. Ziblatt and Orenstein emphasize funda-
mental differences between Hungarian and Polish successor parties that refashioned their
identities as “European” social democratic parties of “experts and pragmatists,” as contrary
to the PDS and the KPRF that pursued neo-Marxist strategies of “leftist retreat” or “patriotic-
nationalism,” respectively.
86. See Ziblatt, “Two Paths of Change,” 99; and Orenstein, “A Genealogy,” 496-99.
87. For 2001 Polish elections, see Kazimierz Groblewski, “RzaÔdzi baÔdzie lewica” in
Rzeczpospolita, 24 September 2001, For Hun-
future of East German and Russian successor parties is more ten-
uous. With little prospects of widening its electoral base to
include West German voters, the PDS can nevertheless expect to
persist as an East German “regionalist” party.88 The KPRF con-
fronts a similar “electoral ghetto” syndrome, as in the 1999 Duma
elections the party remained attached to its traditional southern
and rural constituency of people older than fifty-five.89 Thus,
while the past has defined regional patterns of successor vote, I
agree with John Ishiyama that the parties’ future will increasingly
be defined by their ability to adapt and expand in response to
given and changing structures of political opportunity.90
44 Echoes of Latifundism?
garian 2002 parliamentary elections, see Hungarian Ministry of the Interior, www.election.
88. See Patton, “Germany’s Party of Democratic Socialism,” 525; and Wiesenthal, “Post-
Unification Dissatisfaction,” 27.
89. For 1999 electoral data by region, see Russia Votes, For voters’ socio-
economic characteristics, see Russian Regional Database,
90. See Ishiyama, “Discussion and Conclusion,” in Ishiyama, Communist Successor Parties,
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‘Democratic consolidation’—in the theoretical framework of transitology—was a successful concept for almost two decades. Research funds are concentrated around a catchword—it used to be ‘totalitarianism’ and in the future will be most likely ‘terrorism’.
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Though much criticized, especially for its inability of spending European subsidies, the current regional administration in Romania remained unchanged until the communist times. The sudden rush in totally reshaping the regional administration in 2011 triggered an intense debate on the matter. Though brief, it shed light on political constraints operating when it comes to reshape regional design. Whereas official arguments pointed at a severe European conditionality, electoral calculations seem to be at stake. Yet the decisive opposition to the project by the Hungarian party in government unravels a more profound conditionality, namely ethnic balance, related to the political geography of Transylvania.
This article is devoted to the comparative analysis of principles and factors of relationships of successor parties, trade unions, and state in the post-communist countries. The analyzed period covers the cases of Russia and East Central Europe (Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia) from 1989 to 2004, from the beginning of the post-communist changes to the accession to the European Union. The relationships between successor parties, trade unions, and state are presented on three levels depending on the institutional links between them: (1) institutional design arena; (2) electoral arena; and (3) social dialogue arena.
The contemporary world lacks an institutionally creative ideology. In this milieu democracy will not appear just because it is needed or desired. Instead, we are likely to see anemic polities that mix weak authoritarianism with weak democracy in unnamed, novel, and even bizarre ways.
A prominent Western authority on economic affairs in the former Soviet Union examines major dimensions of Russia's industrial transformation since 1991, focusing on changes in production volume, structure, and organization (e.g., property ownership). An initial section analyzes the dynamics of output, employment, and investment in major industrial branches and presents estimates of factor productivity, followed by an assessment of organizational change (e.g., privatization, joint-venture activity). Coverage then focuses on regional differences in industrial transformation as reflected in such indices as growth in number of enterprises, public-private shares of ownership, and growth in number of foreign-participant firms. Journal of Economic Literature, Classification Numbers: L60, L70, O40, O50. 7 tables, 56 references.
A prominent American Sovietologist and specialist on Russian government and politics examines the 1996 presidential election in European Russia and correlates regional voting patterns with attitudes toward economic reform, the West, and the disintegration of the USSR. The study presents the results of a March 1997 survey, which incorporated 3,800 responses from young adults aged 17 to 33 in the oblasts and 13,000-16,000 responses from high school students in republic capitals. It identifies and explains differences in voting patterns in ethnic versus non-ethnic territorial units, noting anomalous shifts in voting between the first and second rounds. Also presented and analyzed are young people's attitudes toward the principal candidates as well as economic issues. Journal of Economic Literature, Classification Numbers: H10, I31, O52. 31 tables, 19 references.
A noted American specialist on the social structures of Soviet-type and postSoviet systems reviews the altered status of blue-collar workers in the economy of the Russian Federation. The paper covers changes in branch and socio-occupational differentials, the impact of the pay arrears problem, unemployment, and labor militancy. A central question is whether Russia's workers have fared as poorly as have most other categories of the population, given inhibitions on large-scale release of redundant labor in uncompetitive industries.
The German PDS has applied a nationalist veneer over a diverse, contradictory conception of socialism. "Socialism" has become a synonym for East German "national" pride as well as an expression of resentment against West Germans and West German political parties.
Most analyses of the consequences of the December 1993 elections have focused on the State Duma that was elected and its likely role in the Russian political process at the national level. The purpose of this study is to go beyond the more obvious impact of the elections to examine underlying patterns and tendencies that could be significant for Russia's future as a federal, multiethnic state. Data on voting for the parliament by party list permit for the first time a systematic, multidimensional comparison of political tendencies in Russia's regions.