The real world of civic republicanism: Making democracy work in Poland and the Czech Republic

John S. Dryzek, Leslie Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The literature on transition and consolidation contains both optimists and pessimists concerning the prospects for successful democratic consolidation in Central and East European post-communist societies, and the matter is complicated by dispute over what constitutes 'success'. We can side-step this last issue by treating success in dynamic terms: As the capacity for continuation of the open-ended project which constitutes democratisation but which is also central to the very notion of democracy itself. The civic and republican discourses we have found in Poland and the Czech Republic constitute substantial discursive resources to help them further this project. These discourses reveal major continuities with the political traditions of the two countries. There is no need to suspect them of harbouring latent anti-democratic sentiments, or to shun them in favour of a universal discourse of minimal liberal democracy that can see successful consolidated politics only in terms of the pursuit of material interests expressed in party politics and elections. When it comes to democratisation, one size does not fit all; what democracy means in particular places depends to a considerable extent on the prevailing constellation of discourses, as well as the configuration of constitutional and material circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1043-1068
Number of pages26
JournalEurope-Asia Studies
Volume52
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2000
Externally publishedYes

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