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Chapter

This chapter explores the interrelationships among votes, elections, legislatures, and legislators in the context of politics. It first considers the two basic paradoxes of voting before discussing elections and their outcomes, which tend to have different virtues: stronger government versus more representative government. It then describes the functions of legislatures as well as measures for establishing quotas to increase gender equality in legislative recruitment. It also introduces a classification of legislatures based upon their capability to stand up to the executive branch of government before concluding with an analysis of the internal structure of legislatures as well as the backgrounds of members of parliament in various countries, focusing in particular on the criticism that lawmakers constitute a ‘political class’.

Chapter

This chapter assesses what politicians and members of political parties really care about: getting into office on the back of a successful election campaign. Rather than the general determinants of voting outlined in the previous chapter, this is about the choices voters and parties face within a particular system, so they can organize themselves to win. For that they need to play by the rules of the game, which includes developing strategies within electoral systems. The chapter then discusses the impact of electoral systems on that calculus, and how the number of parties is affected by the electoral system in place. It also looks at the factors that assist the winning of elections, and the extent to which the choices of parties and voters are affected by growing instability in the system. Overall, the chapter provides an overview of British political parties and party systems.

Chapter

This chapter starts with a definition of the term ‘referendum’. A referendum is a means of involving the public in political decisions via voting on specific issues such as leaving the European Union. The chapter focuses on the use of referendums at the local level. It sets out the key features of a referendum. Who is allowed to vote in referendums? What sort of questions are put to voters? Under want circumstances should a referendum take place on specific issues? What are the risks associated with holding a referendum? The chapter also looks at regulations surrounding referendums in the UK. The theoretical considerations that the chapter examines are the fact that a referendum subject tends to be controversial, the relationship between referendums and direct democracy and the implications of the results.

Chapter

Richard S. Katz

This chapter examines the role that political parties play in the working of democracy. Political parties are among the major actors in democratic politics. Whether or not in power as the result of victory in free and fair elections, the governments of most countries have effectively been in the hands of party leaders. When governments were not in the hands of party leaders, most often it was because party government was interrupted by a military takeover. The chapter first considers various definitions of a political party, before tracing the origins of political parties. It then describes the functions of parties and the ways in which parties are organized, regulated, and financed. It concludes with an analysis of the role of parties in the stabilization of democracy in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, as well as challenges confronting parties in the new millennium.

Chapter

Ian McAllister and Stephen White

This chapter examines the most visible and politically important act of conventional citizen participation: turning out to vote in a national election. Patterns of political participation are influenced by a variety of institutional factors, such as the type of electoral system and the number of political parties in a country, along with individual socioeconomic factors such as a person’s educational attainments or income. A particular problem in many previously authoritarian societies is the absence of a diverse civil society, so that the social trust upon which a healthy democracy depends is often absent. The chapter first considers various dimensions of political participation before discussing voter turnout in democratic countries. It then analyses the effects of institutional arrangements such as election rules, the type of electoral system, and the party system on political participation. Finally, it describes some of the factors that determine whether or not citizens participate in politics.

Chapter

This chapter starts off with an overview of the institutions that decide how citizens cast ballots, firstly, in elections, and secondly, directly for policy. The former is related to electoral systems and the latter to direct democracy. The chapter considers the implications of these institutions for party systems and political representation from the view point of the principal–agent framework. There is a large variety of electoral systems used in Europe. Most elections are held using the system of proportional representation. However, there are important institutional differences that need to be remembered. The chapter then goes on to examine the effects of electoral systems on the party system. This is carried out with electoral change over time in mind. Finally, the chapter turns to direct democracy and analyses the use of referendums, specifically with regard to the question of the European Union (EU).

Chapter

Tapio Raunio

This chapter examines the relationship between European integration and democracy. The continuous transfer of policy-making powers from European Union (EU) member states to the European level has raised serious concerns about democratic legitimacy. The chapter assesses the claims that European integration undermines national democracy, and that decision-making at the EU level is not sufficiently democratic. It argues that while significant challenges remain, European integration has definitely become more democratic over the years. But there is perhaps a trade-off, with stronger input legitimacy potentially an obstacle to efficient European-level decision-making. It also underlines the multilevel nature of the EU polity and the importance of public debates about European integration.

Chapter

Patrick Bernhagen and Angelika Vetter

This chapter provides an overview of political participation, ranging from conventional forms such as voting at elections to less conventional forms such as attending a demonstration or boycotting a brand for political reasons. The authors look at how voter turnout and protest participation have developed in recent decades and review the main theoretical explanations for differences and trends in participation between social groups and across European democracies. The chapter also considers new opportunities for participation at the local level and asks whether these have the potential to ameliorate or exacerbate existing problems of unequal participation.

Chapter

This chapter examines the crises that dominated the period after the Lisbon Treaty was adopted in 2009: first, the eurozone crisis that began in 2009 and threatened the existence of the single currency; second, the refugee crisis that unfolded from 2015 as large numbers of refugees fled an intensifying war in Syria and attempted perilous crossings of the Mediterranean Sea; third, Britain’s decision to leave the EU, which followed a referendum on membership in 2016; and finally, the challenge of populist politics in the EU, with reference to the emergence of governments led by or including populist parties in Hungary, Poland, and Italy. The chapter then considers other developments during this period, including elections to the European Parliament (EP) in 2014 and 2019, a further enlargement to include Croatia in 2013, and the launch of the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy. It also looks at the United Kingdom’s adoption of a series of measures that raised doubts about its future relationship with the EU.

Book

This book provides a broad and accessible introduction to contemporary European politics, covering the fundamental elements of European democracies, institutions, and practices of government. It provides comprehensive coverage of the twenty-seven member states of the European Union, additionally drawing on examples from the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 focuses on democratic representation, examining the core features of electoral democracy in Europe. Part 2 turns to the institutions and practices of government, focusing in particular on how institutional design shapes political outcomes. Part 3 examines a number of contemporary issues and challenges, including migration, economic crises, the threat of international terrorism, and the rise of anti-establishment parties, and examines the effects they have had on politics in European countries. Throughout, up-to-date examples on issues such as Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic, and growing instability in Europe are used to help students understand the real-world context of European politics.

Chapter

Charlotte Burns

This chapter focuses upon the European Parliament (EP), an institution that has seen its power dramatically increase in recent times. The EP has been transformed from being a relatively powerless institution into one that is able to have a genuine say in the legislative process and hold the European Union’s executive bodies (the Commission and Council, introduced in Chapters 9 and 10) to account in a range of policy areas. However, increases in the Parliament’s formal powers have not been matched by an increase in popular legitimacy: turnout in European elections is falling. Thus, while the EP’s legislative power is comparable to that enjoyed by many national parliaments, it has struggled to connect with the wider European public. The chapter explores these issues in detail. In the first section, the EP’s evolution from talking shop to co-legislator is reviewed; its powers and influence are explained in the next section; the EP’s internal structure and organization are then discussed with a focus upon the role and behaviour of the political groups, and finally, the European Parliament’s representative function as the EU’s only directly elected institution is discussed.

Chapter

This chapter looks at how voting helps people to take a direct role in politics. The chapter discusses the rules by which the electoral system operates. It discusses the different types of electoral systems used in the UK. It connects General Elections and the formation of government at the national level. The chapter then offers a number of theoretical perspectives from which to consider voting in terms of fairness, mandates, and effectiveness. The chapter looks at the impact of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 and how the integrity of elections is maintained. Finally, it looks at the plan to equalize the size and reduce the number of UK parliamentary constituencies.

Book

British Politics provides an introduction to British politics with an emphasis on political science to analyse the fundamental features of British politics, and the key changes post-Brexit. Part A looks at constitutional and institutional foundations of the subject. Chapters in this part look at leadership and debating politics and law creation. The second part is about political behaviour and citizenship. Here chapters consider elections, the media, agenda setting, and political turbulence. The final part is about policy-making and delegation. The chapters in this part examine interest groups, advocacy, policy-making, governing through bureaucracy and from below, delegating upwards, and British democracy now.

Chapter

23. Mexico  

Transition to Civil War Democracy

Andreas Schedler

This chapter examines Mexico’s gradual and largely peaceful transition to democracy, followed by a sudden descent into civil war. In the closing decades of the twentieth century, Mexico’s major challenge was political democratization. Today, it is organized criminal violence. Vicente Fox’s victory in the presidential elections of 2000 ended more than seventy years of hegemonic party rule. However, a civil war soon broke out, sparking a pandemic escalation of violence related to organized crime. The chapter first traces the history of Mexico from its independence in 1821 to the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920 before discussing the foundations of electoral authoritarianism in the country. It then considers the structural bases of regime change in Mexico, along with the process of democratization by elections. It concludes by analysing why a civil war broke out in Mexico following its transition to democracy.

Chapter

Natasha Lindstaedt

For many years, the concept of an authoritarian regime was considered to be one large category, with little understanding of how these regimes differed. The study of authoritarian regimes has come a long way since. Though all authoritarian regimes share in common that there is no turnover in power of the executive, there are considerable differences that distinguish autocracies. Authoritarian regimes today are increasingly attempting to use ‘democratic’ institutions to prolong their rule. This has led to a rise in competitive authoritarian regimes, or hybrid regimes. In spite of these changes, authoritarian regimes are more robust than ever. This chapter explains the different ways in which authoritarian regimes are categorized. The chapter then explains how the different types of authoritarian regimes perform, and what factors make them more durable. As the chapter demonstrates, autocratic regimes have become increasingly better equipped to maintain themselves.

Chapter

This chapter discusses the definitions of democracy, which have evolved over time. Although the concept of democracy appears straightforward, this is not necessarily the case. The first approach to defining democracy was the minimalist approach, or those definitions of democracy that focus primarily on the competitiveness of elections. The second approach was the maximalist approach, which holds that democracy must be viewed as more than the presence of regularly held, competitive elections. In addition to repeated, competitive elections, supporters of a maximalist approach include a variety of other attributes in their definitions of democracy. Some of the criteria are procedural (the rule of law, participation, and accountability), while others are substantive (equality and political and civil liberties). Ultimately, clear and consistent frameworks for democracy can provide objective warning signs and early indicators of democratic backsliding. The chapter then explores the four prominent models of democracy: protective, pluralist, participatory, and deliberative.

Chapter

Thomas Caygill and Anne-Marie Griffiths

This chapter examines how the UK Parliament has used the e-petitions system to address some of the common criticisms about the relationship between the institution of government and the public. In May 2014, the House of Commons agreed to establish a ‘collaborative’ e-petitions system which would enable the public to petition the House of Commons and to call for action from the government. A Petitions Committee was created on 20 July 2015, and the new e-petitions site was launched the following day. The chapter first provides an overview of the changing nature of participation with Parliament, especially voting in elections, before discussing contemporary developments in petitioning Parliament. In particular, it considers public (paper) petitions and compares it to the e-petitions system. It also analyses the impact of e-petitions on Parliament and public participation and concludes with an assessment of challenges facing the e-petitions system.

Chapter

This chapter discusses the distinction between democratic and undemocratic states, noting that it is not only about whether there are elections: it is about whether or not it there is the rule of law. When both conditions are met, elections are free and fair and the government is accountable to the electorate. When laws can be bent or broken, unfair elections represent the will of governors more than that of the governed. The chapter first defines democratic states and outlines the characteristics of a democratic state before assessing the state of states today. It then considers three kinds of undemocratic states, namely: constitutional oligarchy, plebiscitarian autocracy, and unaccountable autocracy. It also examines how democratization has more often come about by trial and error rather than through gradual evolution and concludes by analysing the dynamics of democratic and undemocratic states.

Chapter

Charlotte Burns

This chapter focuses on the European Parliament (EP), an institution that has been transformed from being a relatively powerless institution into one that is able to have a genuine say in the legislative process and hold the European Union’s executive bodies to account. However, increases in the Parliament’s formal powers have not been matched by an increase in popular legitimacy: decreasing turnout in European elections up to 2014 turned around in 2019, but an increasing share of the vote is now going to populist Eurosceptic parties. The EP’s legislative power is comparable to that of many national parliaments, but it has struggled to connect with the wider European public. The chapter explores these issues: the EP’s evolution from talking shop to co-legislator; its powers and influence; its internal structure and organization, with a focus on the role and behaviour of the political groups. Finally, the EP’s representative function as the EU’s only directly elected institution is discussed.

Book

Catherine E. De Vries, Sara B. Hobolt, Sven-Oliver Proksch, and Jonathan B. Slapin

Foundations of European Politics introduces important tools of social science and comparative analysis. The first part of the book acts as an introduction to the topic, looking at democratic politics and multilevel politics in Europe. The second part moves on to citizens and voters, considering issues related to ideology and voting decisions. Part III looks at elections and introduces electoral systems and direct democracy, representation, political parties, and party competition. The next part is about government and policy. The last part looks at the rule of law, democracy, and backsliding.