This chapter turns to issues relating to political power and society. The goal of a contemporary democracy is to allow people to be both equal and different. The UK is a diverse society and people in the UK differ in many ways by their gender, sexuality, abilities, ethnicity, religious beliefs, age, and many other aspects. The importance of various ‘identities’ has recently been recognised in UK politics and they now co-exist alongside more traditional ways of classifying people which tend to lie along socio-economic lines. The chapter then looks at the effectiveness of scrutiny measures to protect people from unequal treatment in the political or legal sphere on the basis of their identity.
This chapter considers executive branch politics in a number of European democracies. It addresses the nature of parliamentary democracy and compares it with other forms of democracy. For example, it looks at separation-of-powers systems using the principal–agent framework of Chapter 2. The chapter examines in detail the link between parties and institutions in order to understand the process of government formation and government collapse. It begins to consider the foundations of the process of law-making which is relevant for the remainder of the book.