This paper deals with the new contradictions facing the social-democratic parties in ECE due to the ‘Dual Challenge’. The EU candidate countries have to perform a structural accommodation at the same time as the globalization and Europeanization when they have entered the period of early consolidation with its enhanced tensions due to the polarizing party system. Overcoming the economic deficit through drastic economic crisis management, they have created in fact a huge social deficit by the radical reduction of the public sector services in education and health care. While the West European social-democratic parties have experimented with various versions of the ‘Third Way’, their ECE counterparts have had to cope with the contradiction between the winners and the losers that has appeared very markedly in the case of HSP.

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