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Introduction: State Structures, Political Processes, and Collective Choice in CMEA States

Ellen Comisso
International Organization
Vol. 40, No. 2, Power, Purpose, and Collective Choice: Economic Strategy in Socialist States (Spring, 1986), pp. 195-238
Published by: The MIT Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2706836
Page Count: 44
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Introduction: State Structures, Political Processes, and Collective Choice in CMEA States
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Abstract

The similarity of state structures throughout Eastern Europe helps to explain why the reactions of states in that area to the international economic disturbances of the past decade resemble each other and why they differ from those of states outside the socialist bloc. Similar state structures, however, do not explain why the economic strategies of the East European states themselves in response to international economic shocks in the 1970s and 1980s diverged so noticeably. The role of state structure is to define "kto/kovo" (who can do what to whom) relationships in the state and economy. In this way state structures define problems that political leaders must solve, possibilities among which they may choose, and political resources and allies upon which they may draw in the course of their decision making. In contrast, strategy choices-"what is to be done"-are the outcomes of political processes in which leaders mobilize resources and allies to capture positions of power from which they can pursue the purposes they advocate. Thus differences in foreign economic strategies among member states in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance reflected differences in the dynamic interaction of the form and content of political processes that occurred within common state structures.

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