European Politics Today

European Politics Today

European Politics Today

European Politics Today

Synopsis

Provides a comprehensive introduction to the political system and processes of western Europe. Demonstrates clearly that political decisions are made in the context of specific historical developments, geographical constraints and social demands. Fully updated to take account of the recent French, British and Italian general elections as well as the momentous changes that have taken place in global politics as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the preparations for EU enlargement. Chapters on the European Union and democracy in western Europe have been substantially revised to take account of globalisation and recent political corruption issues.

Excerpt

This textbook is intended as an introduction to the political systems and processes of western Europe. Political decisions are not made in a vacuum, but in the context of specific historical developments, geographical constraints and social demands. the book begins, then, with an overview of those special features and events which have shaped the political institutions and decision- making processes of western Europe (Chapter 1). the history of ideas has profoundly affected the relationship between the Europeans and their governments. in this context, Chapter 2 introduces the concept of liberal democracy and its particular relevance for the countries of our study. Politics is rooted in conflicting interests: Chapter 3 identifies the common historical sources of political conflict in western Europe and explores new issues which might help to shape political competition in the near future.

The next three chapters are devoted to the ways in which the people are represented in governance. Chapter 4 describes the electoral systems currently in use in western European countries and explains their differing implications, both for the competing parties and for the voting publics. Chapters 5 and 6 examine the `linkage organisations' — political parties and interest groups — which channel the interests of citizens within the political process. the main institutions of government are described and compared in Chapters 7 and 8. Chapter 7 concentrates on executives, looking at the roles of heads of state and government, the formation of government coalitions and the problems of staying in power. Chapter 8 focuses on the ancient, but still significant, institution of parliament and the wide range of functions performed by parliaments in Europe today. Since the Second World War, there has been a growing awareness that citizens must be protected from flawed, corrupt or domineering government. Chapter 9 is concerned with the judicial institutions and alternative means which have been devised to regulate government actions and to protect the citizen.

Chapters 10 and 11 look beyond central government in western Europe. Chapter 10 explores the theme of subnational government. It contrasts . . .

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