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Book Reviews ¶

Scott Burchill et al.: Theories of International


Relations, Third Edition.
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, pp. 310. ISBN: 978-1403948663 (1403948666).

Reviewed by Oldřich Bureš

Like its two predecessors, the third edi- ory. After a brief exploration of the founda-
tion of Theories of International Relations tions of International Relations as a separate
provides a comprehensive survey of leading academic discipline they offer some explana-
theoretical perspectives in the field. In con- tions for the ever-increasing diversity of IR
trast to the second edition, the reviewed text Theories. They point out that until today,
contains an entirely new chapter on Real- practitioners in the field ‘…do not agree
ism written by Jack Donnelly, the chapter about what is involved in theorizing interna-
on Rationalism has been has been replaced tional relations’ (pp. 12). As in many other
with a chapter on the English School, and social sciences, IR has been traditionally di-
the Feminism and Introduction chapters vided on the very basic question of its subject
have been substantially revised. Perhaps most matter and fundamental differences persists
importantly, however, all chapters have been regarding the appropriate methodology. Un-
updated to take into account the recent de- like in other social sciences, however, the
velopment in the ‘real world’, especially con- end of the Cold War and more recently the
cerning the impact of the events of ‘9/11’ on 9/11 attacks, have led to a proliferation of
International Relations theory. As such, the competing epistemological and ontological
book makes a worthy contribution to the standpoints, as well as the importance of eth-
burgeoning literature in the field. ics in the study of IR. According to Burchill
The introduction, co-authored by Scott and Linklater, it is therefore possible to argue
Burchill and Andrew Linklater, explains the that there is a fundamental division within
nature, diversity and fundamental points of IR between theories, which seek to offer ex-
disagreement in International Relations the- planatory accounts of world politics, and

106 Book reviews Contemporary European Studies 2/2007


perspectives, which regard theory as constitu- reach and size of the state in the name of na-
tive of that reality (pp. 3). tional security after the 9/11 terrorist attacks
Chapter 2 offers an exhaustive over- (pp. 80).
view of both the well-known basic concepts In Chapter 4, Andrew Linklater analy-
shared by most (neo-) realists and the some- ses the English School of IR. Also known
times-overlooked points of division with- as International Society, this approach has a
in the Realist school. Donelly is correct to long tradition but it has not enjoyed much
point out that the writings of the early real- influence outside of Great Britain. Since the
ists such as Carr and Morgenthau remain the beginning of the new millennium, however,
key reference points in IR, more than fifty there has been much interest in the English
years after their publication. He also offers a School and its idea of international society
succinct summary of the imperfect nature of as a mid- or third-way between the arguably
neorealist structural theory predictions and excessive pessimism of realism and, at times,
argues that sometimes ‘exogenous variables’ too idealistic forms of idealism. From the
are decisive in determining outcomes, thus contemporary hot topics, Linklater assesses
overwhelming the otherwise theoretically the contributions of the leading figures of the
correctly predicted pressures. Unlike several English School (Hedley Bull, John Vincent
other chapters, however, Donelly’s account and Martin Wight) to the analysis of human
of Realism directly addresses neither the sig- rights, humanitarian intervention and the
nificance of 9/11 for realist IR theory, nor use of force in international relations.
the reverse. Regarding the latter issue, for ex- Linklater is also the author of Chapter 5,
ample, the outspoken critique of leading re- which offers a detailed account of Marxism.
alist scholars to the US war in Iraq in 2003 is Building on the famous contention by Karl
merely noted in one short sentence (pp. 37). Marx that his interest was not only to explain
Scott Burchill in Chapter 3 discusses the the world but to change it, Linklater summa-
liberal theory of IR and its development. rizes not only the well known Marx’s reflec-
While recognizing the importance of free tions on the development of capitalism as a
trade for both the early liberal thinkers and modern form of production but also the less
contemporary neo-liberal accounts of the known analysis of globalisation by Marx and
world market, Burchill also highlights the sa- Engles. Lenin, for whom globalisation and
lience of the evolving human rights culture fragmentation were interrelated as capitalism
and the immensely important discussion of continued to spread in the world unevenly,
the liberal peace thesis. The chapter also con- also pursued the latter topic. This line of
tains a timely treatment of several current analysis was subsequently pushed a step fur-
hot topics, including a discussion of glo- ther by dependency and world-system neo-
balisation, impact of foreign investment and Marxists who shifted their analyses from the
ways of addressing the post 9/11 phenom- relations of production to unequal exchange
enon of non-state terrorism. For example, between, and exploitation of, the third world
Burchill points out the irony of economically ‘periphery’ by the first world core. Moreover,
neo-liberal governments expanding both the by pushing this line of argument yet another

Contemporary European Studies 2/2007 Book reviews 107


step further, Linklater also noted that: ‘Clas- other critical IR theorist, ‘is the argument
sical Marxism may have defended the ideal that the greatest threat to world order may
of universal human emancipation, but its vi- not be the terrorists who perpetrated such
sion of the future assumed the non-Europe- inexcusable harm, but the reaction by the
an would and should become the same as the United States’ (pp. 154).
modern West. The issue then is whether its In Chapter 7, Richard Devetak the con-
project of emancipation was always at heart a tributions of postmodernism, which he con-
project of domination and assimilation.’ siders to be one of the ‘most controversial of
In Chapter 6, Richard Devetak took up theories in the humanities and social scienc-
the uneasy task to find common points in es’ (pp. 161). Devetak also noted that after
the writings of a rather disparate group of 9/11, postmodernism was charged with ‘a
actors who subscribe to critical theory. He dangerous tendency towards moral equivo-
contends that the only idea that is shared by cation or even sympathy towards terrorism’
all critical theorists is ‘that the study of inter- (pp.161). To most postmodernists, however,
national relations should be oriented by an these accusations only confirm that knowl-
emancipatory politics’ (pp. 137). Little con- edge claims are intimately connected to
sensus, however, exists even when it comes to politics and power. Devetak then proceeds
the understanding of emancipation. Devetak to review the post-modernist critique of the
traces the normative interest in identifying ‘Enlightenment project’ of human emanci-
immanent possibilities for social transforma- pation, with a special focus on the writings
tion back to Kant and argues that through of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and
neo-Marxism it became closely associated Jean-Francois Lyotard.
with the Frankfurt School. Until recently, Christian Reus-Smit begins his synopsis
however, the representatives of the Frankfurt of constructivism in Chapter 8 by noting,
School never addressed international rela- that since the end of the cold war, the hith-
tions. Critical IR theory has become more erto dominant debates between neo-realists
associated with Robert Cox’s critique of the and neo-liberals and between the rationalists
traditional IR theories, which he described (both the neo-theories as well as some of the
as “problem-solving” due to their legitimi- English School theorists) and critical theo-
sation of the prevailing social and political rists have been displaced by two new debates:
structures. Devetak also examines the contri- between rationalists and constructivists, and
butions of Linklater, including his efforts to between constructivists and critical theorists.
undertake a ‘sociology of states-system’ – a After examining the origins of constructiv-
comparison of state-systems across time on ism and its principal theoretical premises
the basis of how they deal with harm. In par- (an emphasis on the importance of norma-
ticular, Linklater is concerned that the devel- tive as well as material structures, the role of
opments since 9/11 could un-do the civiliz- identity in shaping political action and the
ing gains made by modern state-system in mutually constitutive relationship between
the last century. As Devetak noted, implicit structures and agents), Reus-Smit distin-
in Linklater, and explicit in the writings of guishes between several competing construc-

108 Book reviews Contemporary European Studies 2/2007


tivist approaches. While some constructivists transnational actors and structures and their
share the neo-realist focus on analysis of state transformations in global politics’ (pp. 213).
processes (especially Alexander Wendt and As such, according to True, feminist perspec-
his systemic approach), others see the states- tives on IR bring ‘fresh thinking and action
system in connection with a range of nation- in the post-9/11 decentred and uncertain
al, cultural and political phenomena (holistic world’ (pp. 213).
approach). Interestingly, however, accord- The last Chapter, written by Matthew Pa-
ing to Reus-Smit, the 9/11 events ‘have not terson, is devoted to analysis of arguably the
sparked a tectonic shift in the nature of con- newest IR perspective – Green Politics. The
structivism, or in the general terrain of In- chapter offers a discussion of two main streams
ternational Relations theorizing’ (pp. 208– of the Green positions on IR – Green politi-
209). The US-led ‘war against terrorism’ has, cal theory and ‘global ecology’. The defining
nonetheless, prompted some constructivists characteristics of the former are ecocentrism
(including Reus-Smit) to articulate a social (the rejection of an exclusively anthropocen-
conception of power that accommodates the tric world-view) and the argument that ‘the
complex relationship between norms, legiti- exponential growth experienced during the
macy and hegemonic power. last two centuries … is the root cause of the
In Chapter 9, Jacqui True sheds light on current environmental crisis’ (pp. 237). The
feminist IR scholarship. Pointing out that latter approach has also two central themes –
there is no distinctive feminist IR theory, ‘development as the root causes of environ-
True proceeds to summarize the key contri- mental problems, and the protection and
butions made by empirical feminism, ana- reclamations of “commons” as central to the
lytical feminism and normative feminism. Green vision’ (pp. 238). Together, the diverse
She stresses that none of these approaches is Green politics literature provides ‘an expla-
simply interested in the place of women in nation of the destruction of the rest of nature
world politics and IR and argues that femi- by human societies, and a normative founda-
nism ‘shifts the study of international rela- tion for resisting this destruction and creat-
tions away from singular focus on inter-state ing sustainable societies’ (pp. 236).
relations toward a comprehensive analysis of

Contemporary European Studies 2/2007 Book reviews 109


Giorgio Napolitano:
Altiero Spinelli e l’Europa. (Altiero Spinelli’s Europe)
Bologna: Il Mulino, 2007, 94 pp. ISBN: 978-88-15-11936-0.

Reviewed by David Rettura

Giorgio Napolitano became the 11th 1955) with the popular and sometimes pop-
President of Italy in May of 2006. He was ulist orientation of President Pertini (1978–
the first member of the former PCI (Italian 1985). He was the most loved in the history
Communist Party) to be chosen for this hon- of the Italian Republic. So it was difficult for
oured, but largely honorific, office. Born in President Napolitano to impose his own idea
Naples in 1925, President Napolitano very of the presidency, also remembering that part
soon became an important member of the of the Italian right was quite suspicious of him
party, linked especially to Giorgio Amendola, at least when he was first elected.
the leader of the ‘right’ inside the PCI, who The book we are writing about is his latest
worked for a collaboration with the moder- and it is a collection of nine papers published
ate PSI (Italian Socialist Party). Early on he by Mr. Napolitano between 1986 and 2006
was persuaded that the PCI had to change concerning the political, cultural and human
its political nature evolving more toward a figure of Altiero Spinelli, the Italian theorist
European Socialist Party, and after the PCI of European unification who wrote the well-
changed its name to the PDS (Democratic known Manifesto di Ventotene. In this work,
Party of the Left) he became minister and written in 1941 on a small island near Rome,
President of the Italian Senate. he imagined how to avoid future continen-
As president he succeeded Carlo Azeglio tal wars by integrating the specific political
Ciampi, former Central Bank Governor as aspects of national sovereignty in an inter-
well as Finance Minister and Head of Govern- national organization which would not be
ment. Mr. Ciampi mixed the constitutional nominated by governments but would rather
and official style of President Einaudi (1948– be an expression of popular will.

110 Book reviews Contemporary European Studies 2/2007


We can divide Napolitano’s essays in two His latest writings published after the fall
groups: in the first one we have pages written of the Berlin Wall, as already stated above,
before the PCI changed both its name and focus on Spinelli’s importance as a found-
political nature; in the second there are pages ing father of contemporary Europe and as an
dedicated to Altiero Spinelli from a man who ideological pillar of the new Italian Left.
was becoming year after year a more promi- The progressive shift, or at least the pre-
nent national leader, respected even by a tended one, in the building of Europe, from
large part of the Italian political Right. the functionalist approach to a more politi-
Initially it was important to link Altiero cal and social one, put Spinelli’s works in a
Spinelli and his fight for political and social new light with a blossoming of studies about
European integration to the PCI experience. them, with the Manifesto di Ventotene, or
President Napolitano could not deny that even Spinelli’s autobiography, Come ho ten-
Spinelli’s experience inside the PCI was dat- tato di diventare saggio, reprinted by several
ed and completely closed well before he even publishing houses. For Giorgio Napoli-
started to think about European integration. tano any occasion was a good one to recall
He made, however, efforts to find in Spinelli the importance of Spinelli’s reflections and
the seed of a pretended communist moral at- usefulness in the present moment. The in-
titude to honesty. For Napolitano, Spinelli tervention Il debito dell’europeismo italiano is
came closest to PCI because of the changed a perfect example: in this work Napolitano
attitude of the party toward Europe in the links, quoting Jean Monnet’s words, Spinel-
middle 1970s. li’s intuitions and dreams with De Gasperi’s
In 1987, in Il combattente federalista, la pragmatism. Alcide De Gasperi, Italian Head
costituzione europea e il rinnovamento delle sin- of Government from the fall of the Fascism
istre, the Italian President, then an important to the early 1950s and the DC (Christian
member of the PCI, remembering the dialog Democrat) leader, is widely recognized as a
between Spinelli and the Communists, stressed founding father of the European Union, as
the autonomous reflection made by the party, is Schumann or Spaak. But Italy and Italian
as Enrico Berlinguer had done in 1975, when politicians often feel a lack of importance in-
talking about the European Union. Napoli- side Europe, perceiving that other countries
tano suggested a political integration to face such as France, Germany or even the United
the USSR, but especially the USA and the up- Kingdom and Spain, which are not among
per classes, but did not mention Spinelli in his the six founders, may retain more influence
report to the PCI Central Committee prepar- or power over the decision process, so it is
ing the XVIth Party Congress in 1975 (later always important to stress the importance of
published by Einaudi as La proposta comuni- Spinelli’s legacy, which is considered more
sta). However, in his autobiography, published attractive than De Gasperi’s.
in 2005 by Laterza Publishing, Mr Napolitano In the same way, even if it isn’t possible to
pays a larger and deeper tribute to Spinelli’s as- find a specific intervention about it, in recent
cendance into the European conversion of the years Spinelli’s figure has become an iconic
PCI and into his own personal one as well. one for the new Italian Left. With the two

Contemporary European Studies 2/2007 Book reviews 111


major Italian Leftist parties losing their mor- This book is the second concerning Eu-
al legitimacy in the early 1990s, it was natu- rope published by President Napolitano in
ral for the new Italian Left to try to find new 2007. Helped by anniversaries such as the
heroes to build up a new moral Pantheon. 50th of the Treaty of Rome, or the 100th of
And Spinelli, with his lonely fight for Euro- Spinelli’s birth, Napolitano, a real supporter
pean unification seemed a perfect figure for of Europe and probably the best one coming
this political operation. The same happened from the PCI, is focusing a part of his presi-
on different basis with Ernesto Rossi, Piero dency on European issues hoping that this
Calamandrei and even Carlo Rosselli, all of can help build a sympathetic image of him in
them forgotten for a long time by the tradi- the same way that this helped his predeces-
tional Italian Left. sor Ciampi.

112 Book reviews Contemporary European Studies 2/2007


Lubor Lacina et al.:
Měnová integrace – náklady a přínosy členství v měnové
unii (Monetary Integration: Costs and Benefits
of the Membership in the Monetary Union).
Praha: C. H. Beck, 2007, pp. 970. ISBN: 978-80-7179-560-5.

Reviewed by Daniel Marek

This well-researched book offers a help- In the first chapter of the second sec-
ful and thorough analysis of the latest phase tion of the book (chapter 5), Zdeněk Sychra
of European economic integration – Eco- presents the historical development of mon-
nomic and Monetary Union (EMU). It is etary cooperation in the EC/EU from the
arranged in two sections. The first section beginning of the European Community
in its four chapters interprets the theoretical (EC) to the last phase of the EMU. He draws
framework of EMU. The aim of this section reader’s attention to the asymmetry between
is to empower readers not familiar with the the economic and monetary part of the in-
economic theory and macroeconomics with tegration process where the supranational
knowledge of those concepts and approaches monetary policy is not supplemented by full-
that are essential for understanding of EMU. fledged economic integration with common
The section includes chapters on the theory fiscal policy and other instruments such as
of optimum currency areas, asymmetrical a federal budget, or common labour market
shocks theory, and approaches to the analysis policies. In his chapter on EMU convergence
of the costs and benefits of EMU member- criteria (chapter 6), Robert Plaga argues that
ship. While this part of the book does pro- these criteria despite reservations over their
vide a rich contribution to the theoretical de- calculation methods (inflation), level of the
bate on EMU and the economic integration reference threshold (budget deficit and pub-
process in general, the chapters on the EMU lic debt), width of the fluctuation limits (ex-
development that form the second part of change rate), or even their meaningfulness
the book (chapters 5 through 12) seem even (long-term interest rates) remain the main
more relevant. instruments to measure economic perform-

Contemporary European Studies 2/2007 Book reviews 113


ance of both existing and aspiring members. proved to be unrealistic, and that partial har-
The chapter 7 by Lucie Tunkrová focuses on monization was achieved only in the field of
the reasons for non-membership of the UK, non-direct taxation due to the completion
Denmark, and Sweden in the EMU. She of- of the Single Market. Chapter 11, by Jan
fers an in-depth analysis of these countries’ Bureš, examines the role of the euro in the
attitudes toward the EMU project, and global monetary system. The euro, accord-
points out to the inability of the govern- ing to the author’s arguments, can be seen as
ments to explain the pros and cons of EMU the one and only future competitor to world
membership to the public. In their chapter domination of the US dollar. However, fac-
on the European Central Bank (ECB) and its tors influencing the strengthening of its fu-
monetary policy (chapter 8), Svatopluk Ka- ture position should be carefully examined.
pounek and Jan Přenosil claim that despite Speedier substitution of the dollar with the
the fact that the ECB is a strong and trust- euro would be possible only due to a sig-
worthy player and the euro a stable currency, nificant crisis of the dollar. In the following
it can not still be considered for its diversity chapter 12 on financial and capital markets,
in its economic, political, and cultural views, Jan Bureš makes a plea for a consistent im-
a full-fledged, comparable actor with other plementation of the Financial Services Ac-
central banks. In their stimulating chapter tion Plan as the key condition for free and
dealing with the EU budget and fiscal policy efficient cross border competition among the
(chapter 9), Robert Plaga and Hubert Smékal providers of financial services.
present the pros and cons of the bigger EU Lubor Lacina has gathered a number of
budget, and discuss the importance and vari- valuable contributions to the discussion of
ous options for the regulation of fiscal policy EMU, covering both theory and practice.
in the EMU. The final section of their chap- Both the editor and contributors to this book
ter analyses the Stability and Growth Pact. are to be congratulated on the structure and
The fiscal policy issues are further elabo- clarity of its presentation. Altogether this is a
rated in the following chapter 10 authored very valuable volume, which should be use-
by Danuše Nerudová. She, when analysing ful reading for students and experts inter-
the harmonization of the EU member states’ ested in the EMU and European integration
tax systems, argues that full harmonization process in general.

114 Book reviews Contemporary European Studies 2/2007


Shanto Iyengar and Jennifer McGrady:
Media Politics: A Citizen’s Guide.
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007, pp. 361. ISBN: 978-0-393-92819-8.

Reviewed by Petr Novotný

The role and the importance of mass me- The name of S. Iyengar is well known
dia in democratic societies have been a hotly to anyone dealing with political commu-
debated issue not only in the Czech Repub- nication, media studies, agenda-setting,
lic, but also across the borders. The most es- public opinion or cognitive psychology.
sential part of the discussion on this theme Among others it was Iyengar, who at Stan-
is the relation between the media and poli- ford University in the 1980s began to in-
tics. The most frequent criticism heard from tensively study the influence of television
politicians concerns the objectivity and im- on the information of the general public in
partiality of journalists and reporters, while political issues and trials. In his most im-
the other side defends the principle of inde- portant work, ‘Is Anyone Responsible? How
pendence of the media and points out that Television Frames Political Issues’, published
their role is that of the watchdog. Obviously, in 1989, he convincingly and in great de-
the boundary between the independence of tail outlined the possible cause of the pub-
the media and high-quality but not objective lic being poorly informed about politi-
journalism is rather vague. The question is, cal problems by means of ‘issue framing’,
who is right in this dispute? Are our leading which in many respects laid the foundation
politicians really so bad or is the mass me- for the next studies. Jennifer McGrady spe-
dia partly to blame for the general cynicism cializes in research in new communication
and scepticism about politics? The book by technology and its influence on democrat-
Shanto Iyengar and Jennifer McGrady Me- ic processes, especially election campaigns,
dia Politics: A Citizen’s Guide answers many and this dimension is emphasized in Media
of these questions. Politics.

Contemporary European Studies 2/2007 Book reviews 115


At the outset it should be pointed out cal parties. Voters thus turn into spectators
that the book is no revolutionary innovation and observers rather than into active, think-
but, in most part, depends on the previous ing subjects. For political representatives this
work of the two authors. As the name sug- media rivalry creates the loss of the will for a
gests, it is not meant solely for scholars but consensus, which can finally paralyse the ca-
wants to serve general audiences as well--to pacity of ruling in quality and with reason.
become the ‘citizen s guide’ in the world of While disregarding the division into
the media. And in this sense it does not mat- chapters, the work can be divided according
ter that the data presented in the book are to four major themes or approaches. The first
a picture of the American medial spectrum. is the theoretical part (especially the second
Naturally, the US system has some specific chapter), where the author outlines three
features as compared to the European stand- fundamental roles of the media in a demo-
ards, still, many of the conclusions arrived at cratic society and in its political processes.
by Iyengar and McGrady can be applied to First, press, television and radio should give
Czech conditions. room to candidates so that they can present
The authors divided the book into eleven their views to a wide public. Second, the me-
chapters, each of which is a follow-up to the dia creates the ‘public sphere’, where citizens
previous, although at first sight each has a can choose and decide according to the wide
different theme. Iyengar and McGrady start range of opinions presented to them. Finally,
from the central thesis that the contempo- media should side with the public by moni-
rary political representation or candidates toring and supervising the political represen-
inadequately, overmuch and harmfully use tations. Iyengar and McGrady come to the
the mass media to improve their own im- conclusion that the majority of American
age, self-representation and to gain political media fail to meet the demands of demo-
points. What is even more important is that cratic theory. The main cause is found in the
reporters and journalists have accepted this private ownership of television stations and
game and in many respects began to serve as newspapers, which leads to friction between
‘loudspeakers’ for political views, which the economics, with its desire for profit, and the
politicians want to pass to the citizens. In- fulfilling of civic duties.
stead of being the ‘watch-dog’ in politics, tel- On this theoretical basis we get, in the
evision and the press have become a suitable next two chapters, an assessment of the ‘per-
instrument for producing the image of the formance’ of American media. Iyengar and
image-makers and the candidates, who in McGrady come forward with a thought,
this way can easily and cheaply spread their which is heretical for some, but is based on
views among potential voters. The authors prolonged research, that through the inde-
believe that media politics are harmful for pendence of the journalists, interpretative
the state of the society. The unceasing media and analytic journalism was born, contrast-
struggles and conflicts between politicians ing with the formerly much valued descrip-
result in the voters’ cynicism towards demo- tive journalism. In other words, modern
cratic processes and especially toward politi- journalists prefer their own, usually would-

116 Book reviews Contemporary European Studies 2/2007


be professional assessment or analysis of the from the substance of the issues and leads to
action of political candidates or they turn to scepticism about election campaigns among
‘experts’ selected by them. The general public people.
thus gets, under the veil of objectivity, views When admitting all that has been said so
and interpretations that often can do harm far, next comes the logical question. Do mod-
to natural judgement and eliminate the vot- ern media really have the power of influenc-
er’s own opinions. The boom of private me- ing public opinion: The book answers, yes.
dia in the United States has brought greater The ‘media effects’ range from influencing
pressure for effectiveness of journalists and the themes thought to be important by the
reporters, thrifty budgets and increased pro- people, i.e., agenda setting, through the for-
duction. Jointly with this, the ability of the mation of opinions on public issues--fram-
media to meet the role of the government’s ing, to the changing of criteria by which the
watchdog decreases since the media are in- citizens select the candidates-priming. Elec-
creasingly dependent on official sources. This tion campaigns thus decidedly have an im-
happens now not only in the period of seri- portance. Not only do they help to form the
ous state crises, e.g., in conflicts of war, but voters’ opinions about the personal qualities
this phenomenon has become current prac- of rival politicians, but they also can affect in
tice. The halls in the White House and in the a major way the importance of each prob-
Congress, every day crowded with journalists lem, on the basis of which a public debate
prove that. For this reason probably, as late goes on. Lastly, in election campaigns they
as the summer of 2004 almost 30 % of all influence voter turnout in both directions.
Americans believed that weapons of mass de- The present trend in media policy is due
struction were really found in Iraq. to two major factors: the declining role of
After an evaluation of the performance of political parties in the American political
American media there comes the question, system in the selection of and finding sup-
which candidates and interest groups influ- port for candidates and the general boom in
ence mass media in their favour and in what television broadcasts. It is unlikely that in
way. The authors describe the wide range of the near future either the Republicans or the
media strategies, by which private goals can Democrats will restore their strength in the
be achieved using TV channels and newspa- sense of the classic political party with all the
pers. As Iyengar writes, the contest between functions exerted by the party. The chance
journalists and campaign advisers is a clas- for improving the present state of affairs con-
sic instance of a collective-action dilemma. sists only in stricter regulation and securing
If parties did cooperate, the journalist would at least a minimum of what in this country
only communicate what the candidates say is called public broadcasting. It is exactly in
and the candidates would concentrate on the this direction that the authors of Media Poli-
particular issues and not on the strategies to tics call for reforms.
be used for victory. Modern reporters, how- From an academic point of view, the neg-
ever, prefer to uncover the political strategies ative aspect of this book is that it does not
of the politicians, which detracts attention bring new facts or conclusions from the lat-

Contemporary European Studies 2/2007 Book reviews 117


est research. In this sense the content of the conclusions. A very clever element is the
book will decidedly be no surprise for any- appendix in the form of a DVD, with in-
one knowledgeable in the field of commu- teresting pictures explaining and practically
nication studies. In one thing, however, the illustrating the terminology. It is especially
book exceeds the current standard, namely owing to these positive features that the
in its systematic and practical character and book can be true to its title and become a
its emphasis on a profound and easy-to-un- real ‘citizen’s guide’ for the world of modern
derstand analysis preceding the applicable media.

118 Book reviews Contemporary European Studies 2/2007


Grigorij Mesežnikov, Olga Gyárfášová
and Miroslav Kolár:
Slovenské voľby ’06. Výsledky, príčiny, súvislosti.
(Slovak Elections of 2006. Results, Causes, Connections).
Bratislava: Inštitút pre verejné otázky, 2006, pp. 254, ISBN 80-88935-90-3.

Reviewed by Lucia Pastirčíková

The Institute for Public Issues (IVO) 2006. Results, Causes, Connections, a collec-
in Bratislava is an independent think tank, tion of fourteen separate analytical studies,
associating specialists from various branches, grouped into five thematic sections.
who analyse social, political, sociological, cul- The first deals with the possible implica-
tural, legal and foreign political issues. In their tions of parliamentary elections in Central
edition of ‘Studies and Opinions’, IVO, be- Europe. The author of the first chapter, Mar-
tween 1997 and 2006, published more than tin Bútora, gives a brief description of par-
thirty items with the aim of supporting an liamentary elections since 1994 in the intro-
open society and a democratic political cul- duction to his paper, discusses the regional
ture in Slovakia. Traditionally since 1998, repercussions of parliamentary elections in
after regional, communal and parliamentary Slovakia in 2006 and outlines their interna-
elections, the Institute has been publishing tional context. In the second chapter, Soňa
large studies in which specialists in various Szomolányi deals with the stability of democ-
subjects analyse the election campaign, the racy in Slovakia and with the political transi-
results and the consequences of the elections. tion of the country, describes the variants of
After the books on parliamentary elec- the governmental coalition and the reasons
tions, Slovak Elections of 1998. Who? Why? for creating the SMER – SNS – HZDS coali-
How? and Slovak Elections of 2002. Results, tions and other options, e.g., why the govern-
consequences, connections, IVO, six months mental continuity of the Cabinet of Mikuláš
after the elections of the National Assembly Dzurinda failed. The authors Radovan
of the Republic of Slovakia, published a third Ďurana and Juraj Karpiš in the chapter ‘“The
book of its kind, named Slovak Elections of Tatra Tiger” after the 2006 elections – what

Contemporary European Studies 2/2007 Book reviews 119


will happen to the reforms?’ assess the re- to and after the parliamentary elections in
forms after six months since the elections and 2006 (Grigorij Mesežnikov – Parliamentary
the exchange of government members and at elections in 2006 and the development of the
the same time tries to evaluate objectively the system of political parties) with an attempt at
impact of the existing reforms, introduced in explaining such phenomena as the growth
the preceding election period. Although the of populism (Peter Učeň – Populistic appeals
authors present accurate information, the re- in Slovak politics) and the election success of
forms are not analysed in a neutral way, the the leftist party Směr (Andrej Orogváni – At-
authors’ opinion can be seen from the almost tempt at a new definition of the Slovak Left).
poetic titles of the chapters, for instance: ‘The All three chapters in this part of the book
blemished tax reform’ or from the formula- register in detail the politological phenom-
tion: ‘There is no doubt about the advantages ena, referred to above, and do not even ne-
of the accepted tax reform with a single tar- glect presenting their theoretical framework
iff as compared to the previous system’ (pp. (for instance how populism is defined by Cas
55). The lack of objectivity in this paper does Mudde or Ben Stanley), applied to the con-
harm the scholarly standard and accuracy of ditions in Slovakia.
the text, in spite of the considerable analyti- In the third part, named Society and voters,
cal features of the chapter. In the next chap- Zora Bútorová and Olga Gyarfášová analyse
ter, Peter Novotný analyses in detail and in the trends in public opinion and the elec-
a chronological way the development of the toral behaviour of the voters and Vladimír
electoral system in Slovakia since the parlia- Krivý analyses the changes in patterns of the
mentary elections of 1990, dividing it into distribution of votes. These chapters contain
three stages: creation and consolidation of the results of the opinion surveys carried out
electoral rules (1989–1996), struggle for the by IVO analysts, who asked citizens about
change of the rules from the position of pow- their opinion as to the introduction of re-
er (1997–1998), and the gradual remedy of forms in the preceding election period, the
deformations (1999–2006). In the conclu- level of their living standard, perception of
sion of the chapter he compares it with the regional differences in the country, the lack
electoral rules in the member countries of the of equality in the labour market, but also dis-
European Union. The text contains tables of cussed the key themes in the preceding elec-
legislative proposals for a change of the elec- tion campaign, i.e., the fate of the reforms,
toral law and the development of its defini- the principles of the functioning of the state
tive legal alteration. It is therefore surprising and the economy, the position and rights of
that in the nine pages of this chapter there is national minorities, agenda of culture and
no reference to sources of information, which civilization, political style and abuse of pow-
were the base for the author’s statements, even er (p. 119). Next comes the development
though in the Bibliography nine publications of electoral preferences of relevant political
and five internet sources are listed. subjects since the parliamentary elections in
The second part deals with the develop- 2002, assessment of the trustworthiness of
ment of the political stage in Slovakia prior politicians and profile of voters of each po-

120 Book reviews Contemporary European Studies 2/2007


litical party, the development of electoral at- In the first chapter, Media and elections by
tendance, and regional success rate of groups Miroslav Kollár, we are first told about the
of political parties in Slovakia. Both these legislation adjusting the activities of the me-
chapters, based on empirical research, are dia before the elections, and then the author
the core of the whole book and the results assesses the media in connection with parlia-
presented here are a contribution especially mentary elections in 2006. Vladislav Doktor
to the academic community because it pro- in the chapter Election campaigns of political
vides valuable data for further research. parties: between professionalization and cau-
Part Four treats Select themes of the pre-elec- tion analyses the electoral communication of
tion discourse, where the author, Miroslav Kol- select political subjects - in what ways they
lár, again analyses the introduced reforms (tax tried to address the voters, how much they
burden, social security and health care), this invested in the campaign. On the financing
time, however, not from the aspect of voter itself, legal measures and their deficiencies
satisfaction as it was done in Part Three of the are described in greater detail by Wienk in
book, but from the aspect of political sub- the paper Financial transparency of the elec-
jects taking part in the pre-election contest. tion campaign. No less interesting is the last
This period brings verbal conflicts and con- part of this chapter, on the monitoring of the
troversies between the representatives of the campaign, where the author discovers some
former opposition and the coalition, whether interesting facts.
to keep or modify the reforms. This chapter The thematic division of the chapters is
delimitates precisely the attitude of political clear, but does not agree with the chronology
parties to these subjects, which, together with of the elections: in the first chapter, ‘Con-
the problem of national minorities, predomi- texts and implications’, analysts evaluate the
nated the pre-election campaign. Miroslav character, course and results of parliamen-
Kusý in the chapter National minorities ex- tary elections in Slovakia in 2006 and their
plains why the issue of minorities (he restricts link with the parliamentary elections in the
it to the Hungarian and partly to the Gypsy neighbouring V4 countries, and in the last
minorities) was topical before the 2006 par- two parts of the book the authors deal with
liamentary elections and played a major role the pre-election campaigns. There is no con-
in the establishment of the governmental co- clusion in the book, on the other hand, the
alition. This part of the book contributes to first two chapters (Slovak elections and Cen-
the overall picture of the 2006 parliamentary tral European connections – Martin Bútora
elections deals in detail with the victory of and Parliamentary elections in 2006 and the
the party Směr-SD and the creation of the stability of the democracy in Slovakia – Soňa
coalition with HZDS-LS and SNS. Szomolányi) meet the role of concluding
The last, fifth part, is again about the thoughts and assessment of the elections.
pre-election period, in particular political Another objection can be the fact that
communication and transparency of financ- the level of each chapter is different, which
ing and professionalisation of election cam- may be because the authors work in various
paigns of political candidates in Slovakia. spheres of society, such as journalism, eco-

Contemporary European Studies 2/2007 Book reviews 121


nomics, financial analysis. Contributions of a journalistic style, which lacks objectivity;
the other authors, sociologists, political sci- the personal views of the authors are clear
entists, university teachers or postgraduate from the beginning to the end of their re-
students do not lack the necessary method- spective chapter. IVO books are generally re-
ology. The book is meant, as the editors say, ceived very positively by the general reading
for specialists, journalists, students and poli- public and even though some papers lack the
ticians, i.e. for a general public rather than theoretical framework, the analytical part in
for academics because the book does not each chapter is strong, sufficient, for giving
have all academic features, some chapters the readers the needed information as well as
(e.g., ‘“The Tatra Tiger” after the 2006 elec- an analysis of select features of the 2006 elec-
tions – what will happen to the reforms?’ – Ra- tions of the National Assembly of the Slovak
dovan Ďuraňa – Juraj Karpiš) are written in Republic.

122 Book reviews Contemporary European Studies 2/2007