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The electoral fate and policy impact of “anti-corruption parties” in Central and Eastern Europe


Niche parties have been increasingly successful during the last 30 years and have accordingly received a lot of scholarly attention. So far most of the focus has been on Green and radical right parties, and to a more limited extent, regional parties. In this paper I analyze the electoral fates and policy outcomes of another type of niche party, namely those focusing on anti-corruption, whose successes culminated during the 2000s. The study is limited to all new parties campaigning on the issue of anti-corruption in Central and Eastern Europe since the fall of the Berlin wall and the questions to be answered are: To what extent are these parties successful in obtaining relevant positions in the government so that they are able to effectively fight corruption? What impact do they have on anti-corruption measures, thereby influencing the level of corruption? How successful are these parties in the elections that follow? In short, to what extent do anticorruption parties matter? Apart from electoral and governmental data, the analysis is based on the Freedom House Nation in Transit annual reports, in which one section deals with the efforts to curb corruption. The results are rather mixed, but indicate that the more influential positions the anti-corruption parties (ACPs) have in government, the better are their anti-corruption performances. That implies that they are serious and competent enough to tackle those issues, despite their newness and lack of experience. Not surprisingly, the incumbent ACPs fare worse than those in opposition in subsequent elections, but quite a few still remain popular. Finally, all but one party abandoned their anti-corruption rhetoric in their second election, which implies that anti-corruption is a different type of issue, compared to the ones used by previous niche parties.

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Correspondence to Andreas Bågenholm.

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Bågenholm, A. The electoral fate and policy impact of “anti-corruption parties” in Central and Eastern Europe. Humaff 23, 174–195 (2013).

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Key words

  • political parties
  • anti-corruption
  • Central and Eastern Europe