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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.

Chapter

Petia Kostadinova and Robert Thomson

This chapter explores a cornerstone of democratic theory: the idea that parties mediate the effect of public opinion on government policies. It begins by discussing whether elections give parties a mandate to pursue their campaign promises, a supposition that many political theorists find problematic. The chapter then reviews theories that predict and explain post-election coalition formation, as the type of government formed affects parties’ success in shaping government policies. Finally, the chapter reviews three of the main approaches to studying the impact of parties on public policies: welfare state models, public spending, and the keeping of election campaign promises.