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Cover European Union Politics

14. Interest Groups and the European Union  

Rainer Eising and Julia Sollik

This chapter examines the role of interest groups in European Union (EU) politics. It also considers the way in which the EU institutions influence interest group structures and activities. The chapter begins with an overview of the relationship between the EU institutions and interest groups and the proceddures of lobbying before examining the steps taken thus far to regulate that relationship. It then looks at the evolution and the structure of the interest group system, focusing in particular on two salient aspects: the difference between national and EU organizations; and the difference between specific and diffuse interests.


Cover Comparative European Politics

2. Political Parties  

André Krouwel

This chapter charts some of the more important developments in European party politics, as well as analysing the contemporary state of party politics. It begins with a discussion of the value of political parties for democracy, after which it describes the origin of party systems in historical social cleavages, how these cleavages relate to the various party families, and the variation in party systems found across European democracies. Subsequently, it examines how parties have changed over time in terms of organization, ideology, and electoral appeal. Highlighting the changing roles political parties performed over time, it focuses on recent changes in European party systems, particularly growing polarization and fragmentation.


Cover Democratization

8. The Political Economy of Democracy  

Patrick Bernhagen

This chapter examines the relationship between democratization and the economy. It first provides an historical overview of the emergence of capitalist democracy before discussing some general problems of the relationship between democracy and capitalism, highlighting the main areas in which the two systems condition each other. It then considers the role of business in democratizing countries, and more specifically the role of business actors in the transition to democracy. It also explores the intricacies of combining major political and economic reforms. Some key points are emphasized; for example, capitalism focuses on property rights while democracy focuses on personal rights. Furthermore, capitalism produces inequality, which can both stimulate and hamper democratization.


Cover Exploring Parliament

Cristina Leston-Bandeira and Louise Thompson

Exploring Parliament offers a fresh perspective on an ancient institution. It provides a real-life insight into the inner workings, impact, and relevance of twenty-first century Parliament. Short academic and practitioner chapters are combined with relevant and practical case studies, to provide an introduction to Parliament's structures, people, and practices. As well as covering the broader structure of UK Parliament, this text explains the role of small parties in law-making, the design and space of Parliament, and offers illuminating case studies on highly topical areas such as the Backbench Business Committee, the Hillsborough Inquiry and recent pieces of legislation such as the Assisted Dying Bill.


Cover Exploring Parliament

18. The Role of a Backbench MP  

Mark Shephard and Jack Simson Caird

This chapter considers the nature and roles of backbench Members of Parliament (MPs) as well as their impact and influence, placing emphasis on the Backbench Business Committee. The term ‘backbench’ refers to where the MPs or peers sit in the House of Commons — behind those with either ministerial frontbench or shadow ministerial frontbench positions. The definition of a backbencher holds in many other parliamentary systems where the executive is drawn from the legislative branch (for example, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia). However, emphasis on the role of backbenchers might vary depending on the parliamentary system. The chapter discusses the role of backbenchers in the UK Parliament, such as supporting their party; scrutinizing government; representing and furthering the interests of their constituency and constituents; contributing to policy development; and promotion of public understanding.