Skip to main content

Weak states, weak societies: Europe's east-west gap

Buy Article:

$43.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


The transfer of rules, such as in the European Union's recent enlargements, requires well-functioning institutions of government as well as societal actors ready to engage with the new rules. Officials of the European Commission and other practitioners highlighted the need for both in the run-up to enlargement, whereas critics of the 2004 and 2007 rounds have faulted the state-centric approach employed by the EU for undercutting societal actors in the new member states. This article examines data from the World Values Survey and World Bank Governance Indicators and shows that state capacity and organized interests do indeed go hand in hand: Among the 27 EU member states, countries that score high on good governance also have citizens engaged in interest organizations, volunteering for a broad variety of causes and ready to participate in acts of protest. By the same token, in countries where governments struggle to deliver results, organized interests are insufficiently established and rarely in a position to perform governance functions. The data show systematic and statistically significant differences between old and new member states, with Eastern Europe lagging behind most of the older democracies on both dimensions, that is, state capacity and civil society. Considerable variation within each block does not negate this basic gap, though it highlights the need for nuance and cautions against determinism. The article seeks to set the stage for the case studies contained in this special issue.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Political Science, Indiana University Bloomington, 210 Woodburn Hall, Bloomington Indiana 47405-7110, USA

Publication date: 2010-04-01

  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more