Loyalty and power in union-party alliances: labor politics in postcommunism

Avdagic, Sabina (2004) Loyalty and power in union-party alliances: labor politics in postcommunism. Discussion Paper. Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.

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Abstract

Against the background of the changing relationships between trade unions and political parties in Western Europe, this paper examines the nature and outcomes of
union–party alliances in East Central Europe. The paper advances two interrelated
arguments. First, the nature of union–party ties in postcommunism is significantly
different and can be best described as an inverse dependency relationship in which
political parties have always been the stronger partner. Second, contrary to the conventional assumptions based on the experience of Western Europe, strong union–
party ties have worked to the detriment of labor in East Central Europe. This paradox
is explained by poor reserves of loyalty, which are a direct consequence of the absence
of a long history of close ties and mutually beneficial exchanges. The way in which
such new alliances respond to economic imperatives is not likely to be affected by
commitment concerns, but rather by the balance of power in the relationship. Given
the fact that the balance of power is tilted towards parties, disloyal behavior is more
likely to occur on the side of political parties than on that of the unions. In particular,
in the context of pervasive economic constraints and limited party competition over
economic policy issues, strong ties with the unions increase parties’ incentives to coopt union leaders in the task of communicating the necessity of reforms to their constituencies.

Item Type: Reports and working papers (Discussion Paper)
Additional Information: MPIfG Discussion Paper 04 /7 ISSN 0944-2073
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Depositing User: Sabina Avdagic
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:11
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2012 11:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24607
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