Elitism, Populism, and European Politics

By Jack E. S. Hayward | Go to book overview

6
Political Parties and the Public Accountability of Leaders

DAVID HINE


1. Party Accountability and Party Government

Political parties are an essential, though not sufficient, link in the chain of 'accountability' between the political élite and the people. Accountability can be given various meanings and involves not just effective policy and respect for manifesto pledges, but also the probity and honesty of office-holders. In the latter area administrative, constitutional, and even penal law act as constraints supplementary to electoral accountability. However, electoral accountability is the sine qua non of representative democracy, and in most of Europe it is still organized along more or less 'party' lines. There are probably few democracies, at least in Europe, where electoral choice is not still conceived, in the minds of voters, primarily in party terms. France has always been a partial exception on this score, and the startling political breakthrough of Silvio Berlusconi suggests a similar process of personalization of politics in Italy, but elsewhere there are few leaders who can, with any confidence, operate far outside the limits of partisan identities.

When it comes to assessing whether office-holders actually implement 'party' policy, however, the situation becomes less clear, and just what we mean by 'party government' varies considerably across liberal democracies. The extent to which, out of the complex circuit of parliamentary, bureaucratic, and interest-group interaction, policy can be described as having been determined by 'party' is much debated. 1 This gap, between on one side what is done in the name of particular parties, and on the other what they have committed themselves to doing--or what voters believe they have committed themselves to doing--is a perennial source of potential public mistrust in parties. Such a gap can exist for different reasons: parties may be ill prepared for office, failing to understand the complexities of policy issues or finding themselves

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Elitism, Populism, and European Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Tables ix
  • LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS x
  • Introduction Mediocre Élites Elected by Mediocre Peoples 1
  • Note 9
  • 1: The Populist Challenge to Élitist Democracy in Europe 10
  • Notes 30
  • 2 - 'Losing Touch' in a Democracy: Demands Versus Needs 33
  • Notes 60
  • 3: Freedom from the Press 67
  • Notes 86
  • 4: From Representative to Responsive Government? 88
  • Notes 99
  • 5: The European Union, the Political Class, and the People 101
  • Notes 120
  • 6: Political Parties and the Public Accountability of Leaders 121
  • Notes 141
  • 7: Élite-Mass Linkages in Europe: Legitimacy Crisis or Party Crisis? 143
  • Notes 160
  • 8: Organized Interests as Intermediaries 164
  • Notes 186
  • 9: Mediating between the Powerless and the Powerful 190
  • Notes 202
  • 10: Public Demands and Economic Constraints: All Italians Now? 203
  • Notes 219
  • 11: The Fluctuating Rationale of Monetary Union 220
  • 4: Conclusion 235
  • Notes 237
  • 12: Has Government by Committee Lost the Public's Confidence? 238
  • Notes 249
  • Conclusion Has European Unification by Stealth a Future? 252
  • Notes 257
  • Index 259
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