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Book

Cover Foundations of European Politics

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.

Chapter

Cover Foundations of European Politics

10. Political Systems and Government Formation  

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

Cover Foundations of European Politics

1. Introduction  

The Introduction argues that to understand European politics there are two premises that need to be accepted. Firstly, the interplay between European and national-level politics must be taken seriously. The two cannot be studied independently. Secondly, a theoretical model of politics is necessary to help us to make assumptions about politics explicit and to ensure that the arguments used are logically consistent. Models help us to zoom in on a particular aspect of politics and apply our analysis to real-life examples. It also helps us to spot the similarities and differences across political systems and governments so we can make comparisons. The Introduction answers the question: why focus on Europe? One of the most obvious reasons is that Europe is the home to the largest number and variety of democratic governments anywhere in the world.