Political parties play a central, if not the central, political role in parliamentary democracies. They are also likely to play a key role in the establishment of new parliamentary democracies. This volume provides a systematic comparison of the democratic transitions in both Eastern and Southern Europe from this point of view. There are four main themes concerning the role of parties that are examined: coping with the past (party identities and inheritances),the formation and performance of new democratic political elites, parties and alliances and their electoral behaviour. These themes guide the case studies, (which are written in comparative perspective), in four countries in both Southern and Eastern Europe. The countries covered include Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Hungary, Romania, Poland and Bulgaria. Democratization is a very complex process, but what the study of political parties does is to focus on an area that links many of them. This book is intended to be a guide to students wishing to make sense of democratization and the role of political parties in that process.