Sociologie Românească, Vol. V, no. 2/2007, pp. 85-113.
Modernization, Cleavages and Voting Behavior in East Europe. An Analysis of Romanian Voting Behavior in Comparative Perspective
Abstract: Since 1989 many Eastern European transformation states have shown a tendency towards frequent changes of government and witnessed the defeat of ruling parties in elections. Such voting behavior may be traced back to various deficits in the interrelation between parties and voters. One of those deficits will be analyzed in this paper: The respective parties lack a strong link with the population; continuous (structural and functional) relations between parties and voters apparently do not exist. The study of interrelations between political representatives and those represented and the subsequent idea of cleavages have been introduced into the electoral and party studies by Stein Rokkan and Seymour Martin Lipset (1967): Cleavages are societal conflicts that are transferred into political divisions and represented by particular parties (Eith 2001; Schmitt 2001). Rokkan and Lipset describe parties as the main “transmission belt” from group interests to political positions. Parties act on cleavages that stabilize the party system.