The Nature of Party Government: A Comparative European Perspective

By Jean Blondel; Maurizio Cotta | Go to book overview

6
Political Recruitment and Party
Government

R. B.Andeweg

The recruitment of political office-holders has generally been regarded as one of the fundamental functions performed by political parties. Indeed, it is often used as a criterion to distinguish them from interest groups and social movements, as the latter are content to try to influence government policies from without. Thus, Sartori defines a party as ‘any political group that presents at elections, and is capable of placing through elections, candidates for public office’ (1976, 64) Yet, the relationship between parties, appointments and government is more complicated than such functions or definitions may lead one to suspect. First, theories and empirical accounts of political recruitment look at it as one-way: parties nominating individuals to seats ( Norris and Lovenduski, 1995). It is one of the aims of this book to remedy that situation by stressing that governments are not just passive recipients of party inputs, nor mere arenas for the struggle between parties, but also actors in their own right with a vested interest in controlling those who seek to control them. Hence our first complication is that we need to look at party appointments to the government as well as at government appointments to the parties, in particular to the party executive and parliamentary party leadership. As the notion of a two-sided relationship in party government and the different manifestations of this relationship have been discussed in Chapter 5, I shall treat that complication as given in this chapter. Figure 6.1 gives a simplified illustration of how the discussion of appointments in this chapter ties in with the general framework of party–government relationships.

Problems which are specific to political recruitment have to be discussed at the outset. Are appointments a goal for parties in their relationship with the government, or are they an instrument, a necessary

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