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This chapter examines how laws, constitutions, and federalism provide structure to the context of political life. It first considers the importance of constitutions in determining the basic structure of the state and the fundamental rights of citizens that they establish before asking whether the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is Western-centric. It then explores different ways in which states may attempt to realize justice in applying the law, with particular emphasis on differences between Islamic and Western practice. It also discusses the importance of constitutional courts, the ways that the institution of federalism contains the powers of the state and manage diverse societies, and consociationalism as an alternative approach to managing such diversity. Finally, it comments on the increasing legalization of political life.

Chapter

6. Competition Policy  

Defending the Economic Constitution

Stephen Wilks

This chapter examines the European Union’s competition policy and how its effectiveness has steadily increased in terms of controlling restrictive practices, abuse of dominant position, mergers, state aid, and the liberalization of utilities. It considers how the central dominance of the Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP) in the European Commission has been perpetuated and how competition policy has become a supranational policy competence which can be regarded as an ‘economic constitution’ for Europe. The chapter also discusses the decentralization of antitrust enforcement to the national agencies and courts through the ‘Modernization Regulation’ of 2003, as well as a ‘turn to economics’ in which economic analysis has been substituted for legal tests to move towards an ‘effects-based’ (effect on competition) interpretation of the law.

Chapter

1. The Starting Point  

Understanding the Political System

This chapter discusses what makes British politics distinctive and recognizable: its parliamentary democracy, uncodified constitution, and pattern of party government. It begins by outlining some recent events that have made British or UK politics so fascinating and controversial. The chapter then describes the political system, particularly the institutional rules that affect what happens and govern how politics takes place. Parliament, composed of the House of Commons, House of Lords, and the Crown, is the supreme legal authority in the UK. The chapter also provides a summary of the British constitution. It places the UK in a comparative context, to be studied alongside other nation states. Finally, the chapter sets out the information and concepts that help in understanding the nature of and limits to British democracy.

Chapter

This chapter focuses on the evolution of systems of constitutional justice since 1787. It first provides an overview of key concepts and definitions, such as constitution, constitutionalism, and rights, before presenting a simple theory of delegation and judicial power. In particular, it explains why political elites would delegate power to constitutional judges, and how to measure the extent of power, or discretion, delegated. It then considers different kinds of constitutions, rights, models of constitutional review, and the main precepts of ‘the new constitutionalism’. It also traces the evolution of constitutional forms and suggests that as constitutional rights and review has diffused around the world, so has the capacity of constitutional judges to influence, and sometimes determine, policy outcomes.

Chapter

This chapter explores the interrelationships between law, constitutions, and federalism. It first explains the importance of constitutions in shaping the basic structure of the state and the fundamental rights of citizens that they establish before discussing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular asking whether it is Western-centric. It then considers the ways in which states may attempt to realize justice in applying the law, with emphasis on the distinction between Islamic and Western practice. It also examines the role of constitutional courts and judicial review, legal adjudication of political problems, how the institution of federalism is used to contain the powers of the state and to manage diverse societies, and consociationalism as an alternative approach to handling social diversity. Finally, it analyses the increasing legalization of political life.

Chapter

Terence Ball

This chapter examines The Federalist's defence of the newly drafted US Constitution of 1787 and compares its arguments with those of the Antifederalists. The Federalist is a collection of newspaper columns written between October 1787 and May 1788 in support of the proposed Constitution. Its three authors — Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay — wrote under the pseudonym Publius. The chapter first provides a short biography of the authors of The Federalist before discussing a key theme to which Federalists and Antifederalists returned repeatedly: whether the system of government constituted by the new constitution was ‘republican’ or not. It also considers the arguments of both camps about the size and extent of this republic, its system of representation, the sources of civic corruption and virtue, whether a standing army is preferable to a citizen militia, and whether a republic requires a Bill of Rights to protect its citizens' liberties.

Chapter

Valentina Aronica and Inderjeet Parmar

This chapter examines domestic factors that influence American foreign policy, focusing on the variety of ways in which pressure groups and elites determine and shape what the United States does in the international arena. It first considers how US foreign policy has evolved over time before discussing the US Constitution in terms of foreign policy making and implementation. It then explores institutional influences on foreign policy making, including Congress and the executive branch, as well as the role of ‘orthodox’ and ‘unorthodox’ actors involved in the making of foreign policy and how power is distributed among them. It also analyzes the Trump administration’s foreign policy, taking into account the ‘Trump Doctrine’ and the US strikes on Syria.

Chapter

6. Competition Policy  

The Politics of Competence Expansion

Mark Thatcher

This chapter examines the European Union’s competition policy. It shows that the EU’s legal powers in general competition policy—over restrictive practices, abuse of a dominant position, mergers, state aid, and state monopolies—are very extensive and highly supranational with few direct controls for national governments. The chapter then studies two views of the application of these powers—that they have been used in a more ‘neo-liberal’ manner in recent decades or that they continue to provide scope for industrial policies of supporting European champion firms. It underlines that the Commission has been an active and central player in policy-making, together with the European Court. But all actors operate in a wider context of large powerful firms as well as experts and practitioners in competition policy. The chapter concludes by analysing how the economic crisis after 2008 has reignited debates about altering the criteria for policy to give more place to aims other than protecting competition, to offer more space to national policy-makers, and to provide greater scrutiny and accountability for the Commission, as well as greater action to deal with the new ‘digital tech giants’, but that these encounter significant obstacles.