The communist parties’ adaptation to democracy is one of the more remarkable developments of post-1989 politics in East Central Europe. Ironically, unresponsive and incompetent ruling communist parties have in some cases spawned successors that have been able to respond to democratic electoral cleavages and convince large portions of the electorate of their ability to govern democratically and competently. This paper argues that the main factor underlying this ability has been organizational transformation of the communist parties: specifically, the extent to which these parties centralized and streamlined their organizations, while breaking with a discrediting past. This transformation is itself a function of elite skills developed under communism.

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