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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

Raymond Hinnebusch and Anoushiravan Ehteshami

This chapter studies foreign policymaking by regional states in the Middle East based on a ‘complex realist’ approach. This acknowledges the weight of realist arguments but highlights other factors such as the level of dependency on the United States, processes of democratization, and the role of leadership in informing states' foreign policy choices. To illustrate this approach, the chapter examines decision-making by four leading states — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt — in relation to the key events and crises of the last decade: the 2003 Iraq War; the 2006 Hezbollah War; and the post-2014 War with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS). The cases indicate that, as realists expect, states' foreign policies chiefly respond to threats and opportunities, as determined by their relative power positions.

Chapter

John Peterson and Dermot Hodson

This chapter examines what is enduring about the character of the European Union institutions, however fragile the wider political process of European integration seems to be. It also considers where the EU as an institutional system has been and where it is going. The chapter begins by discussing the interdependence of EU institutions, noting that they are obliged to work together to deliver collective governance even as they and European governments try to solve multiple crises that sap political time and attention. It then explores the problems faced by the EU’s institutional system with respect to leadership, management, and integration of interests, along with the Community method. It concludes with an assessment of the accountability conundrum: how the EU institutions, in the absence of a truly European polity, can become more accountable to citizens and thus a more legitimate level of governance.

Chapter

This chapter examines the general issue of leadership in the British political system and the stresses and strains of this task, examining the role of the prime minister. As well as being leader of the largest party in the House of Commons, able to command a majority, and potentially able to get government business through Parliament and into law, the prime minister has executive powers, which helps keep this focus. Despite the power of the position and its importance in the British system of government, there are fundamental weaknesses in the role that come from the instabilities of party politics. Overall, the picture of prime ministerial and core executive power and capacity is a mixed one that is changeable over time. In recent years, over Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, the prime minister's fate can change dramatically, even week-by-week.

Chapter

This chapter examines how states have very different preferences in global environmental politics. These state preferences are formed and shaped in a co-evolving process at both the domestic and international levels. Domestically, a rational choice analysis shows how environmental vulnerability and the costs of abatement contribute to defining a state's national interests in environmental politics. But the rational choice model, though useful, has its limits. It often presents the state as a unitary and monolithic actor, whereas in fact states come in multiple institutional forms and are made up of numerous actors with varying and sometimes conflicting interests. Several international factors also play an important role in shaping state preferences. Some of those international factors revolve around how states interact with one another in international negotiations. Indeed, state preferences can be revised during international negotiations via states' interactions in working and contact groups, with negotiating chairs, in coalitions, and through leadership efforts.