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Binev, Binio S. “Post-Communist Junctures, the Left, and Illiberalism: Theory with Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe.” Comparative Political Studies (2022)


While many post-communist European party systems have experienced the rise of anti-establishment parties, not all have been equally vulnerable to challengers attacking both cultural and economic liberalism. This article borrows insights from scholarship on Latin American politics and develops a critical juncture approach to understanding the linkages between economic liberalization and political illiberalism in 15 post-communist democracies during the 1990-2020 period. It argues that contingent political dynamics during post-communist junctures shaped ensuing legacies by conditioning the long-term programmatic positions and variable electoral performance of “traditional” leftist parties. This path-dependent process culminated in variable electoral viability of illiberal parties with incentives for ideological differentiation and organizational capacities to adopt those economic positions that were most likely to be electorally rewarded. By focusing on variable incentives, resources, and constraints, the article challenges previous scholarship and advances and tests a novel theoretical framework based on a probabilistic approach to critical juncture analysis.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.