This work had not been possible without the encouragement, assistance and advice of various people. I am especially grateful to my supervisor Prof. Claus Offe, whose stimulating suggestions and encouragement proved extremely valuable. I also want to thank Prof. Wolfgang Merkel who attended the dissertation as second supervisor.

I want to express my sincere thanks to Prof. Phillippe Schmitter, Imco Brouwer, Nicolas Guilhot and Bernard Gbikpi for their help, support, interest and valuable hints. Without our common research project on “Democracy Promotion and Protection” this dissertation had hardly taken shape. Indeed, this work was made possible in part by a research grant from the VW-Stiftung supporting not only our DPP project but also a four weeks field trip to Poland. Two research assistants, Anke Wilde and Christoph Zarft, provided invaluable help.

Susanne Fuchs, Kathrin Schwalb and Erika Jakab read the text and provided indispensable (and mostly constructive) criticism. Michael Dobbins looked closely at the final version of the thesis for English style and grammar. I am further grateful to Bernd Schüler who encouraged me to go ahead with my thesis. 

I also have to thank the various people in Germany, Poland and Slovakia who were willing to be interviewed on the topic and who shared their insights into civil society assistance in Poland and Slovakia with me.

Finally I would like to give my special thanks to my husband Jens and my parents who always supported me and without whose assistance as baby sitters I had never been able to complete this work.

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