Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has seen both highly unstable party systems and high rates of corruption. As a result, lots of new parties keep popping up, and an anticorruption focus has proven to be a great way for them to get noticed. In fact, studies have found that new parties are more successful when they center their message on fighting political misconduct.
Among those that actually win, some of these anticorruption parties have been modestly successful in passing reforms. But many other anticorruption parties have floundered when in office. Part of the problem is that these parties often make lofty promises but fail to put forward actual, workable plans. Enough voters will still vote for the “anticorruption” party as a way of expressing disapproval for the incumbent government, without necessarily paying close attention to whether the anticorruption party and its leaders are willing or able to follow through on their promises. As a result, numerous CEE countries have had bad experiences with anticorruption parties that, when in office, appear to have little idea how to govern differently from their predecessors—and sometimes little apparent interest in doing so. Consider a few examples: