PhD Project

“New Generations, Old Stories? An Analysis of Political Participation and Its Preconditions in Central and Eastern Europe“

According to Nations in Transit 2018, many countries in Central and Eastern Europe are still not considered fully “consolidated democracies”. One of their political features is that political participation is weaker than in so-called old democracies. The post-communist heritage is treated as the predominant explanation for the weakness of political participation in Central and Eastern Europe in the literature. The effects stemming from the communist past are portrayed in a rather monolithic and predominantly negative way.

This dissertation investigates different facets of the post-communist heritage regarding its political, economic and societal dimensions. The thesis highlights the effects of the transformation period after 1989, which triggered many upheavals in the region. Those transformation effects are well described in other parts of literature on the region but appear still underplayed in political participation research on Central and Eastern Europe.

The quantitative analysis of the PhD thesis stresses socialization during communism as an indicator for measuring the influence of the post-communist heritage on political participation. The age-period-cohort analysis compares the political participation rates of citizens with different biographical and socio-economic backgrounds. Furthermore, the analysis considers regional-specific variables, such as past communist party membership or individual success during the transformation. The thesis relies on three waves of the European Value Study (1990, 1999 and 2008) and three waves of the Life in Transition Survey (2006, 2010 and 2016). The analysis focuses on ten Central and Eastern European countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) and studies voting, party membership, signing petitions and attending demonstrations. This methodological approach enables new insights regarding weak political participation in Central and Eastern Europe.