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Chapter 5

POLI 212 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Europeanisation, The Tradition, Socalled

Political Science
Course Code
POLI 212
Vincent Post

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European Politics (Bale) Chapter 4 Notes
Government the representative part of the executive. The elected government in
alost all Euopea outies ust ejo the ofidee of paliaet, oall
epessed i a ote he it takes offie. Euopes paliaeta goeets ae lead
by a prime minister and a group of colleagues, which political scientists call the cabinet.
Cabinet, which may be known in particular countries by a different name (for
instance, in France it is called the Council of Ministers) is the final democratic
decision-making body in a state. In Europe, the cabinet is made up of party
politicians who are, most often than note, chosen from the ranks of MPs and are
collectively (as well an individually) responsible to parliament.
The head of state:
In monarchies (Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Spain and the
UK), the head of state will be the king or queen. In republics, it will be a president, either
eleted dietl  the people Austia, Filad, Fae, Ielad, et., o idietl 
an electoral college (Germany, Italy, Greece), which is normally the parliament.
The title of pesidet is oth head of state ad head of goeet. I Euope the to
roles, rightly or wrongly, are normally kept separate.
B fa the ajoit of Euopes heads of state do not wield or even share
executive power, even if they are directly elected. This does not, however, mean
they have no role or influence.
Sometimes debilitating (or at least headline grabbing) conflict between prime
ministers and presidents whose powers arguably continue to entitle them to an
influence beyond that enjoyed by most of their European counterparts are not
limited to post communist countries.
Prime minister, cabinet and parliamentary government
In all European states except France and Cyprus, the person charged with the running of
the country is clearly the prime minister. He or she is normally the leader of a political
party that has sufficient numerical strength in parliament to form a government,
whether on its own or in combination with other parties (he or she is not necessarily the
largest party).
Executive power in Europe is wielded by governments which are accountable to
and rely on the support of parliament. They are lead by cabinets comprised of
ministers from one or more parties, many of whom retain their parliamentary
seats. In theory, they are coordinated, if not controlled, by a prime minster
whose power which some argue is on the rise varies between countries but
also according to circumstance.
Because of their ultimate dependence on the confidence of parliament, it may
seem at first glance that European prime ministers enjoy less autonomy than
say, an executive who is also head of state, such as the president of the USA. In
fact, this is far from being the case.
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A pie istes poiee i the edia a also e a soue of poe, ad
is one more thing that leads some to argue that European countries are
udegoig hat the all pesidetializatio, o at the e least, itessig a
strengthening of the position of prime minster relative to hit cabinet colleagues.
This represents not so much presidentialization as a move towards what some
opaatiists ould all a etalized-pie iisteial oe eeutie, ad
away from the centralized cabinet mode. This shift, many argue, has be
accelerated by Europeanization and in particular the role of the European
Council and its decision-making summits that bring together prime ministers
(and a few presidents) to make decisions which not only affect the EU but often
have big (and sometimes immediate) implications for politics back at home.
Permutations of parliamentary government in multiparty systems:
Many European governments do indeed command such majorities some even when
they are made up of just one party. Minority governments administrations made up
one or more parties which together control less than half (plus one) of the seats in
Minimal (connected) winning coalitions:
Dual motivation (progress in society and wealth/power) is enough to ensure that
government formation is very rarely simply a matter of putting together what political
scientists call a:
Minimal winning coalition:
Is a government made up of parties that control as near to just over half the
seats in parliament are they can manage in order to combine their need to win
confidence votes with their desire to have to share ministerial portfolios
between as few claimants as possible.
True, around one in three governments in postwar-western Europe have been minimal
winning coalitions, while only around one in ten have been single-party majorities. But
most of these coalitions have also been what political scientists call:
Minimal connected winning coalition:
Are made up of parties with at least something in common ideologically, even if
governing together means having more parliamentary seats that would be
strictly necessary and/or could be forced by doing deals with less like-minded
Given that in most countries such a coalition would be theoretically, and often
practically, possible, how then do we account for the fact that so many parties in Europe
hold office, either singly or together, as minority governments? In fact, the answer Is
quite simple: they do it because they can.
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