This article is part of the special cluster titled Parties and Democratic Linkage in Post-Communist Europe, guest edited by Lori Thorlakson, and will be published in the August 2018 issue of EEPS This article introduces a special section on parties and democratic linkage in post-communist Europe. It sets out the main objectives and research questions that guide the four articles in this special section, presenting these in the context of the comparative politics literature on party and party system change and democratic development. It introduces the key arguments of the articles in the section, arguing that the contributions identify regionally distinctive patterns of party and party system behaviour in Central and Eastern Europe. These patterns have fuelled a quest for more suitable conceptual and measurement tools and call for diversity in comparative analysis, combining intra and inter regional comparison.
Vertical integration is an important concept for political parties. In multi-level or federal contexts, it is said to affect party strength, national integration and federal stability. Despite this, difficulties with the conceptualization and operationalization of vertical integration and a lack of cross-national data impede research. This article clarifies the concept of vertical integration, distinguishing it from related concepts of strength, centralization and autonomy and distinguishing the indicators of integration from the effects of integration. It introduces the measures of vertical integration and autonomy used in the Party Organization in Multi-Level Systems (POMLS) dataset comprising data from survey responses from 204 state-level parties in eight countries. The data confirm the theoretical distinctions among forms of vertical integration and between vertical integration and autonomy and show that not all forms of vertical integration are mutually reinforcing. [Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Ltd., copyright holder.]