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Daniele Caramani

This chapter examines how competition between political parties gives rise to different party systems. In liberal democracies, competition for power is based on popular votes. The shape and dynamics of party systems are determined by the electoral game, with parties as main actors. A party system is thus essentially the result of competitive interactions between parties. A party system has three main elements: which parties exist, how many parties exist and how big they are, and how parties behave. An obvious but important point is that party systems must be composed of more than one political party. The chapter begins with a discussion of the origins of party systems, followed by an analysis of the format of party systems, such as two-party systems and multiparty systems. It then considers the influence of the electoral system on party systems, before concluding with an assessment of the dynamics of party systems.


Amie Kreppel

This chapter focuses on the political roles and powers of legislatures. It first describes different types of legislatures on the basis of their functions and relationship with the executive branch, before analysing the roles of legislatures within the political system as a whole, as well as several critical aspects of the internal organizational structures of legislatures. It then examines the relationship between the political power and influence of a legislature and the structure of the broader political and party system. The discussion focuses on legislatures within modern democratic political systems, although many points apply to all legislatures, regardless of regime. The chapter also explains how legislature differs from assembly, parliament, and congress.


This text provides a comprehensive introduction to comparative politics. Comparative politics is an empirical science that deals primarily with domestic politics. It is one of the three main subfields of political science, alongside international relations and political theory. Comparative politics has three goals: to describe differences and similarities between political systems and their features; to explain these differences; and to predict which factors may cause specific outcomes. This edition compares the most important features of national political systems and contains chapters on integration, globalization, and promotion of democracy in non-Western parts of the world. This introductory chapter explains what comparative politics is, and discusses its substance as well as method.


Frank Esser and Barbara Pfetsch

This chapter examines the dimensions of the political communication system. It first explains the rationale for a comparative study of political communication before discussing relevant models of relationship between media and political institutions, as well as differences in political communication cultures among media and political elites. It then reviews findings on country-specific reporting styles in political news coverage and evaluates divergent approaches in government communication and election communication. On the side of the citizens, the chapter explores cross-national differences in the consumption of political news, along with the positive contribution of public service broadcasters for informed and enlightened citizenship. Finally, it looks at political information flows, comparing message production by political actors, political message production by media actors, usage patterns of political information, and effects of political communication.


Edited by Daniele Caramani

Comparative Politics provides an introduction to the field. Comparative politics is an empirical science that deals primarily with domestic politics. It is one of the three main subfields of political science, alongside international relations and political theory. The text provides a comprehensive introduction to comparative politics. It includes three chapters dedicated to familiarizing readers with the comparative approach, discussing substance as well as method. It then guides readers through a thematically organized, comprehensive analysis of the core methods, theories, and concepts in comparative politics. Empirical data is drawn on to demonstrate key similarities and differences of political systems in practice. Increased focus is given to the Global South and its path towards democratization. At the end of each chapter, there are questions designed to encourage critical thinking. The six sections of the work deal with: theories and methods; the historical context; structures and institutions; actors and processes; public policies; and beyond the nation-state.


This chapter examines the development and operation of the European Union from a comparative politics perspective. It first considers the evolution of the EU, from the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1951 that established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) to the admission of Lithuania in 2015 as the nineteenth member of the Eurozone, and the UK’s decision to leave the EU in 2016. The chapter then explores the process of European integration and goes on to explain what it means to think of the EU as a political system. It also describes the two basic dimensions of the EU system: the vertical dimension (the EU as a ‘regulatory state’) and the horizontal dimension (the design and operation of EU decision-making). The chapter concludes by analysing the ‘missing link’ in the EU system— the lack of genuine democratic politics.