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Cover Exploring Parliament

22. Women in the House of Commons  

Rosie Campbell, Sarah Childs, and Elizabeth Hunt

This chapter examines the progress of women's participation and representation in the House of Commons. It first considers women's descriptive representation in the House of Commons over the last century, with emphasis on the differences in the proportion of women Members of Parliament (MPs) elected by the main political parties. It explains improvements in the numbers of women MPs in the last decade or so, together with the party asymmetry, by reference to the supply and demand model of political recruitment. It then reviews arguments for women's equal participation in politics, taking into account how women's descriptive representation intersects with symbolic and substantive representation. It also discusses resistance to the claim that women's representation matters and concludes with an analysis of the masculinized nature of the political institution that women MPs inhabit, along with the recommendations made in the 2016 The Good Parliament report.

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Cover Comparative Politics

11. Electoral systems and representation  

Orit Kedar

This chapter focuses on elections and representation. The first part focuses on electoral systems. It first presents the building blocks of electoral systems. Drawing on these building blocks, it then discusses the underlying principles of the two main families of electoral systems, namely majoritarian and proportional representation, and presents key variants within each family. The chapter then proceeds to discuss how different features of electoral systems affect the behaviour of both voters and politicians. The second part of the chapter addresses representation. It first lays out four different aspects of representation, followed by an elaboration on one particularly central aspect—substantive representation, which addresses the way representatives and government act for voters. Finally, the chapter’s third part analyses the trade-offs embedded in different electoral systems and discusses how different electoral systems promote some aspects of representation as well as other democratic values, and compromise others.

Chapter

Cover Exploring Parliament

23. Representation in the Lords  

Peter Dorey and Matthew Purvis

This chapter examines the issue of representation in the House of Lords. The existence of the unelected House of Lords has long been the subject of criticism, particularly from the Left. This is because the House of Lords today remains an almost wholly nominated, unelected, parliamentary institution, with most peers formally appointed by the Queen. However, some peers are also appointed by a House of Lords Appointments Commission, primarily those of a non-political nature. Such appointments have sparked accusations that the House of Lords is not representative, which runs counter to Britain's status as a parliamentary democracy. The chapter considers four discrete modes of representation and representativeness vis-à-vis the House of Lords: political representativeness, social representativeness, individual representation, and sectional representation.

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Cover Foundations of European Politics

7. Representation  

This chapter addresses the various concepts of political representation, such as substantive, descriptive, and symbolic. It then examines which institutions foster different types of representation. It presents two different visions of democracy: proportional and majoritarian. It considers what they imply for congruence and responsiveness. The chapter delves deeper into descriptive representation by looking at the representation of women across legislatures. When considering symbolic representation it looks at action taken by members of parliament. The chapter asks the basic question: to what extent, and in what ways, does a political system represent its citizens?

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Cover Democratization

10. Gender and Democratization  

Pamela Paxton and Kristopher Velasco

This chapter examines the role of gender in democracy and democratization. It first considers how gender figures in definitions of democracy, noting that while women may appear to be included in definitions of democracy, they are often not included in practice. It then explores women’s democratic representation, making a distinction between formal, descriptive, and substantive representation. Women’s formal political representation is highlighted by focusing on the fight for women’s suffrage, whereas women’s descriptive representation is illustrated with detailed information on women’s political participation around the world. Finally, the chapter discusses the role of women in recent democratization movements around the world.

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Cover Democratization

5. Long Waves and Conjunctures of Democratization  

Dirk Berg-Schlosser

This chapter focuses on the history of democratization since the late eighteenth century. It introduces the concepts of ‘waves’ (trends) and ‘conjunctures’ (briefer turmoils) and delineates the major developments in this respect. In this way, the major long-term and short-term factors leading to the emergence and breakdowns of democracies are also highlighted. The first long wave occurred during the period 1776–1914, followed by the first positive conjuncture in 1918–19, the second long wave (with some intermittent turbulences) in 1945–88, and the latest conjuncture in 1989–90. The chapter identifies the main ingredients to democratization throughout history, namely: republicanism, representation, and political equality. It concludes by considering some of the current perspectives and dangers for the future of democracy.

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Cover US Foreign Policy

11. Identities and US foreign policy  

Christina Rowley and Jutta Weldes

This chapter examines the role of identity in constructing U.S. foreign policy. Using a critical social constructivist approach, it argues that particular conceptions of U.S. identity constitute U.S. interests, thus providing the foundations for foreign policy. After providing an overview of the influence of interests on foreign policy, the chapter considers the basic assumptions of critical social constructivism, taking into account the social construction of reality and the concepts of discourse and articulation. It then analyses discourses as sites of power, identity, and representation, along with the importance of identity in U.S. foreign policy. It also looks at U.S. presidents’ articulations of state identity and foreign policy over the last six decades.

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Cover Comparative European Politics

9. Parliaments  

Shane Martin

Parliaments are the cornerstone of representative democracy. This chapter examines the role and performance of national parliaments in European democracies. The chapter begins with a review of how parliaments are designed, including the number of chambers and the power of parliamentary committees. It discusses parliaments’ roles and functions, including law-making, government formation, oversight, and political representation, and assesses whether parliaments reflect the make-up of the citizenry at large. The chapter then discusses the possibility of strong parties and dominant executives within the legislative arena leading to weak parliaments, as well as recent attempts to strengthen the capacity of national parliaments.

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Cover Politics in the Developing World

9. Women and Gender  

Vicky Randall

This chapter explores the relationship between women/gender and political processes in the developing world. It begins with a discussion of the social context and ‘construction’ of gender, as well as the ways in which the state and politics have shaped women’s experience. It then considers the women’s movement, with case studies based in Brazil, Pakistan, and South Korea, along with women’s political representation and participation. It also examines the development and impact of feminism and women’s movements before concluding with an analysis of factors affecting policy related to women, focusing on issues such as abortion and girls’ access to education.

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Cover Politics in the European Union

17. Organized Interests  

This chapter focuses on the so-called organized interests, whose interaction with the formal European Union (EU) institutions is a central component of the EU’s decision-making process. The term ‘interest group’ refers to a range of organizations outside of the formal institutions that seek to influence decision making. They provide a link between state actors and the rest of society, also known as ‘civil society’. The chapter first considers the general growth of interest group activity at the European level before discussing the types of group that try to influence EU policy making and the forms of representation open to interests. It then explores the strategies and tactics that interest groups use to try to influence the different institutions. Finally, it analyses the issue of regulating interest group access to the EU institutions.

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Cover Comparative European Politics

1. Electoral Systems  

Jean-Benoit Pilet and Alan Renwick

This chapter examines the variety of electoral systems in Europe. Electoral systems lie at the heart of democratic politics, influencing who citizens’ representatives are and having profound effects upon politics at large. The authors start by presenting the variety of electoral systems used across Europe, focusing on three key dimensions: electoral formulas, district magnitudes, and ballot structures. Then they discuss some of the main developments in electoral systems in Europe since 1945, highlighting shifts towards limited proportional systems and more ‘personalized’ systems. Finally, they probe deeper into the consequences of electoral systems, looking at effects on the nature of competition both between and within political parties.

Chapter

Cover Politics

13. Political Parties  

This chapter deals with political parties, focusing on why they emerged, how they can be classified, what functions they perform, and how they interact. It identifies two phases in the development of political parties. The first parties were intended to structure the work of legislatures, and later evolved into mass parties to structure the votes of electors, catch-all parties to win more votes irrespective of ideological appeal, and cartel parties more dominated by party professionals. The chapter also considers seven functions typically carried out by a political party, irrespective of whether they operate in democracies or authoritarian regimes: legitimation of the political system, integration and mobilization of citizens, representation, structuring the popular vote, aggregation of diverse interests, recruitment of leaders for public office, and formulation of public policy. Finally, it discusses various types of party outside the West, party systems, and some of the challenges facing political parties today.

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Cover Foundations of European Politics

6. Electoral Systems and Direct Democracy  

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).

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Cover The Institutions of the European Union

6. The European Parliament:  

powerful but fragmented

Ariadna Ripoll Servent and Olivier Costa

The European Parliament (EP) symbolizes many of the struggles that characterize the process of European integration and is at the core of many theoretical and empirical debates about representation, accountability, and legitimacy. This chapter draws on a variety of theoretical approaches to explain the complex role the EP plays in the political system of the European Union (EU). It starts with a brief overview of the history and functions of the assembly, followed by a theoretical explanation of its empowerment over time. Then, it determines the extent to which the EP is capable of influencing policymaking, both in legislative and non-legislative domains, as well as for the appointment of the Commission. It presents the political structure of the assembly and underlines the role of parliamentary groups and committees. It discusses the representativeness of the EP and the democratic quality of its internal functioning. Finally, it addresses current and future challenges for the EP.

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Cover Comparative Politics

10. Elections and Referendums  

Michael Gallagher

This chapter focuses on the two main opportunities that people have to vote in most societies: elections and referendums. Elections are held to fill seats in parliaments or to choose a president, whereas referendums allow citizens to decide directly on some issue of policy. Elections are the cornerstone of representative democracy, and referendums are sometimes regarded as the equivalent of ‘direct democracy’. In practice, referendums are used only as an option in systems of representative democracy. The chapter first provides an overview of elections and electoral systems, focusing on electoral regulations and the main categories of electoral systems, namely single-member plurality, alternative vote, two-round system, and proportional representation. It then examines the rules under which elections are held, as well as the consequences of this variation. It also considers the use of the referendum and its potential impact on politics.

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Cover Political Thinkers

18. The Federalist  

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

Cover Exploring Parliament

32. Conclusion: The Future of Parliamentary Politics  

David Judge, Cristina Leston-Bandeira, and Louise Thompson

This concluding chapter reflects on the future of parliamentary politics by identifying key puzzles implicit in previous discussions which raise fundamental questions about what Parliament is and why it exists. The goal is to determine the ‘predictable unknowns’ as starting points for exploring the future. Three principal puzzles that need ‘hard thinking’ in order to understand legislatures are considered: representation, collective decision-making, and their role in the political system. The chapter also examines the difficulties in reconciling ideas about popular sovereignty and direct public participation with notions of parliamentary sovereignty and indirect public participation in decision-making; the implications of the legislative task of disentangling UK law from EU law in the wake of Brexit for Parliament's recent strengthened scrutiny capacity; and how Parliament has integrated the core principles of representation, consent, and authorization into the legitimation of state policy-making processes and their outputs.

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Cover The European Union

6. Democracy in the EU  

Richard Corbett and Daniel Kenealy

This chapter examines the democratic credentials of the EU. Beginning with a discussion of the idea of democracy beyond the state, it explores academic debates about whether the EU suffers a ‘democratic deficit’. The chapter evaluates the EU along various dimensions, including how powers are separated and divided within the EU, the extent to which executive accountability is established, and the various mechanisms of representation in the EU. It explores the nature of European elections, the role of European political parties, the role of national parliaments in EU policy-making and recent innovations in the way that the president of the European Commission is chosen. The chapter concludes with a discussion of fundamental rights, values, and the rule of the law in the EU with a particular focus on recent developments in Hungary and Poland.