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Chapter

Cover Comparative European Politics

7. The Executive Branch  

Petra Schleiter

This chapter offers a clear introduction to the history, constitutional structure, and powers of the modern executive in European countries. It provides an overview of the constitutional position of the political executive in parliamentary and semi-presidential democracies, then charts variations in the powers of key actors (including prime ministers, cabinets, and presidents) and their political implications for conflict within government, cabinet stability, and policy processes. The text complements its coverage of the political executive with an analysis of the civil service and the political challenges of controlling it, and concludes with a comprehensive assessment of the rise in executive autonomy and its political implications in the twenty-first century.

Chapter

Cover UK Politics

3. The UK government  

This chapter concentrates on the UK government, the part of the UK political system responsible for creating policy and putting it into effect. The chapter looks at the nature of the UK government, and the way it is made up of ministers, and civil servants and departments. The chapter also looks at the types of ministers, their legal and political powers, and the rules applying to them. The chapter assesses the constitutional position of the civil service, and its relationship with ministers and Parliaments. It also describes the departmental structure of the UK government and the so-called arm’s-length bodies within it. The chapter presents a number of perspectives on the way in which power operates within government and considers how the various ideas play out in reality. The chapter revisits the issue of Brexit but this time in the context of the civil services and ministers.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

13. Executives, Bureaucracies, Policy Studies, and Governance  

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter explores the relations between the executive and legislative branches of government, along with their role in formulating government policy. It first describes the general framework of legislature–executive relations before discussing the civil service and its embedded autonomy. It then examines theories of bureaucratic policy-making, with particular emphasis on the problem of facilitating policy innovation, as well as the more recent proliferation of government agencies and the concepts of governance and good governance. It also considers the spread of the domain of policy-making beyond state officials or civil servants to issue networks and policy communities and concludes by analysing the emergence of a ‘network state’ and its implications for civil servants.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

13. Executives, Bureaucracies, Policy Studies, and Governance  

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter explores the relations between the executive and legislative branches of government, along with their role in formulating government policy. It first describes the general framework of legislature–executive relations before discussing the civil service and its embedded autonomy. It then examines theories of bureaucratic policy-making, with particular emphasis on the problem of facilitating policy innovation, as well as the more recent proliferation of government agencies and the concepts of governance and good governance. It also considers the spread of the domain of policy-making beyond state officials or civil servants to issue networks and policy communities and concludes by analysing the emergence of a ‘network state’ and its implications for civil servants.

Chapter

Cover British Politics

8. Governing Through Bureaucracy  

This chapter explores the central government departments, executive agencies, and other public bureaucracies in operation in the UK today, such as those in local and territorial governments. These bodies help make and implement public policies and run public services. The chapter reviews more general work on bureaucracy and public administration, and sets out the theory of politician–bureaucrat relationships (going back to the principal–agent model), before addressing the classic question of civil service influence over public policy. It then takes account of the diversity of bureaucratic organizations operating in Britain today. The chapter also looks at the evidence of how politicians manage to satisfy their political objectives through delegating authority to these bodies.

Chapter

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

8. The European Commission:  

the cabinets and the services

Frédéric Mérand

Focusing on the services and the cabinets, this chapter analyses the European Commission as a complex organizational, political, and social institution. Organizationally, it describes the Commission as a unique international bureaucracy which puts its French administrative tradition, consensus-based, and law-heavy internal procedures under the growing influence of an Anglo-American style of management. Politically, the chapter shows that the Commission increasingly behaves like a political executive that seeks to establish its own legitimacy vis-à-vis public opinion and member states by addressing partisan dynamics in the European Parliament. In terms of social relations, the chapter draws from the author’s ethnographic work to explore the transnational life of Commission civil servants and cabinet staffers who have made the Berlaymont their home.

Chapter

Cover The Member States of the European Union

8. Sweden: Shedding Exceptionalism in the Face of Europeanization  

Anna Michalski

This chapter examines the adaptations that have occurred in Sweden’s political and administrative system following its admission to the European Union on 1 January 1995. Sweden became a member of the EU on 1 January 1995 after a long period of hesitation. After fifteen years of membership, reticence has given way to a more positive stance, best characterized as pragmatic support. The chapter first considers patterns in Sweden’s membership in the EU before discussing Swedish public opinion towards the EU and the impact of Sweden’s EU membership on the country’s political parties, political institutions, public administration, and sub-national actors such as the civil service. The chapter goes on to explore Sweden’s approach to EU public policy and concludes by comparing its experience with those of other member states, including Austria and Finland.

Chapter

Cover Politics

14. Executives, Bureaucracies, Policy Studies, and Governance  

This chapter examines how executives, bureaucracies, and policy studies influence governance. It first provides an overview of the relations between the legislature and the executive, with emphasis on the competing claims of presidentialism versus parliamentarianism, before discussing the civil service and its traditional role in building up the effective power of the state. Using examples from economic policy-making, it argues that embedded autonomy is an appropriate way of characterizing the civil service's relationship with the rest of society. The chapter goes on to consider theories of bureaucratic policy-making, focusing in particular on policy innovation, public administration, and New Public Management, the more recent proliferation of agencies in government, and the concept of good governance. Issue networks, the notion of iron triangles, and policy communities are also explored. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the ‘network state’ and its implications for civil servants.

Chapter

Cover European Union Politics

13. The Court of Justice of the European Union  

Paul James Cardwell

This chapter provides an overview of the Court of Justice of the EU. The Court has emerged as a powerful player in the history and development of the European integration process. Its contribution to the workings of the EU and our understanding of it are central to both legal and political accounts, while its decision-making has at times been controversial. This chapter explores the history of the court as an institution of the EU, its composition, and how it has developed its role. It considers how we can understand the ‘politics’ of the judicial arm of the EU’s institutional framework and also discusses the ‘activism’ of the Court.