The Presidentialization of Politics: A Comparative Study of Modern Democracies

The Presidentialization of Politics: A Comparative Study of Modern Democracies

The Presidentialization of Politics: A Comparative Study of Modern Democracies

The Presidentialization of Politics: A Comparative Study of Modern Democracies

Synopsis

In this major new work, leading experts come together to examine the changing role of political parties and political leadership in fourteen modern democracies. As well as examining cross-national differences, The Presidentialization of Politics analyses how modern democracies are increasingly following a presidential logic of governance, through which leadership is becoming more central and more powerful, but also increasingly dependent on successful appeal to the mass public.

Excerpt

The theme of the concentration of power around leaders in democratic political systems is by no means new. More than thirty years ago Farrell (1971 : x) observed that 'in almost all political systems, executive dominance and the personification of this domination in a single leader is a central fact of political life'. Yet, it is hard to avoid the impression that perceptions of the personalization, and in particular, the 'presidentialization' of politics have become more widespread in recent years, regardless of formal constitutional characteristics. For instance, in the United Kingdom long-standing concerns about prime ministerial power have occasionally produced assertions of 'presidential' rule, most notably in the work of Foley (1993 , 2000). Indeed, with the advent of Tony Blair's premiership such assessments became almost commonplace, especially though not exclusively among journalists (e.g. Draper 1997 ; Hencke 2000 ; Watt 2000), and similar claims have been heard in respect of Gerhard Schröder's Germany (Lütjen and Walter 2000 ; Traynor 1999) and even the Italy of Bettino Craxi (Fabbrini 1994) or Silvio Berlusconi (Calise 2000). Still more common, perhaps, are references to the 'presidentialization' or 'candidate-centredness' of election campaigning across the world's democratic regimes (Bowler and Farrell 1992 ; Mughan 2000 ; Wattenberg 1991).

In view of their widespread diffusion, the time is surely ripe to assess the validity of such claims. This is the primary purpose of this volume. But what exactly is the phenomenon in which we are interested? In our view, presidentialization denominates a process by which regimes are becoming more presidential in their actual practice without, in most cases, changing their formal structure, that is, their regime-type. This, of course, raises the question of what exactly is the actual working mode of presidential systems. There are two ways of answering this question:

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