restricted access The Political-Party Landscape

Many observers of Central and East European politics express concerns regarding outcomes of elections and policy choices flowing from them. Yet, since democratization of CEE states has taken place in economic, social, and cultural conditions different from those in the West, voting patterns and policy preferences there cannot be mere copies of West European experience. Critics should focus their attention on the assessment of democratic procedures. More important than who won is if the election was free and fair. A well-designed system of checks and balances can prevent ill-conceived policies from causing damage, as the case of Poland's "lustration" law illustrates.