Parties, Party Systems, and Satisfaction with
Democratic Performance in The New Europe
CHRISTOPHER J. ANDERSON1
Political parties and the party systems they form constitute the major channels of interest aggregation and citizen input in contemporary democracies. They are the vehicles through which political elites supply policy alternatives, and they constitute the major route for citizens to organize the demand for such alternatives.2 Parties also play a crucial role in the nature of democratic governance because they help legitimize the state. After all, free and fair elections in which parties compete for oce are a prime criterion for whether a system should be considered a democracy in the ®rst place. Outside of elections, political parties also have long been the most important mediating institutions between citizens and the state, in particular as parties have taken on the roles as simultaneous agents both of the state and its citizens.3
While virtually all democracies have political parties that compete for oce, political systems dier in a number of important ways with regard to how they go about channeling inputs or providing policy alternatives, and with regard to the roles they assign parties in this process. Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, the ways in which political institutions condition the formation, functioning, and development of political parties and party systems varies as well. While there is an extensive literature linking electoral systems and the development of party systems, few researchers have investigated their link with how citizens ± the ultimate arbiters of democratic governance ± feel about the way the political process performs.
This essay focuses on two types of political performance that are expected to aect citizen attitudes about the political system: party and party system performance. While party performance focuses on how individual political parties perform their roles as mobilizing and organizing agents in elections, party system performance involves the aggregate constellation of parties in a political system and its electoral consequences in the form of party system fragmentation and volatility. This essay investigates whether, and how, crossnational dierences in both party and party system performance aect citizens' evaluations of their country's political system.
1 Many thanks to Richard I. Hoerbert, participants at the SUNY-Binghamton political science graduate colloquium, and the political science department at Washington University in St. Louis for thoughtful comments on earlier ideas and drafts.
H. D. Klingemann, R. Hoerbert, and I. Budge, Parties, Policies, and Democracy (Boulder,
CO, Westview, 1994).
R. Katz, and P. Mair, `Changing models of party organization: The emergence of the cartel party', Party Politics 1,1 (1995), 5±28.
# Political Studies Association 1998. Published by Blackwell Publishers, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JF, UK and 350 Main
Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.
CHRISTOPHER J. ANDERSON
On the basis of directly comparable survey evidence from about 20 democracies collected between 1993 and 1995, this article examines the determinants of cross-national dierences in democratic support in both old and new democracies. Speci®cally, I focus on satisfaction with democracy in the 15 member states of the European Union as well as in several of the emerging democracies of east central Europe. I investigate whether and to what extent electoral rules and party system performance help us understand dierences in levels of satisfaction with the political system in both old and new democracies.
The next section reviews the literature on electoral systems and party performance; subsequently, I develop a model of how these may be related to levels of democracy satisfaction in contemporary democracies. The empirical analysis then tests these relationships systematically, and a concluding