The political constraints created by dismantling central planning and more recently by fulfilling membership criteria for the European Union present eastern European politicians with an unprecedented lack of public policy options in critical areas of government, such as the economy. East European political parties have thus had little choice but to compete over operating styles rather than substantive programmatic alternatives. Continued party system instability in eastern Europe is a direct consequence of this type of party competition. Parties have had, in effect, to satisfy two constituencies, one informal and the other external, with the very existence of the latter inhibiting the development of the former
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