European Politics

Emily Fenton
Flashcards by Emily Fenton, updated more than 1 year ago
Emily Fenton
Created by Emily Fenton almost 5 years ago


European Politics flashcards with material from lectures 1-7, for International Studies

Resource summary

Question Answer
4 Building Blocks of Governmental Systems 1. Legislature 2. Executive 3. Judiciary 4. Head of State
Presidential System (2) 1. Chief executive is the president 2. Separation of powers (between executive and legislation) USA is probably the most successful example of presidential system
Parliamentary System (4) 1. Executive responsible for legislature 2. Head of state is ceremonial (monarch or president) 3. Elections for legislation -> indirect election of executive 4. Head of government: Prime Minister
Semi-Presidential Systems System where there is both a Prime Minister and a President; can be problematic if the two come from opposing parties
Prime Minister's Power (4) 1. Centre of decision making process 2. Head of cabinet 3. Head of major political party 4. Has right to dissolve legislature and call elections
How to get rid of a Prime Minister (4 options) 1. Through election 2. Change in majority coalition of legislators 3. From within the party (loss of party leadership) 4. Motion of no confidence from legislature
Cabinet: Executive Body in Parliament (3) 1. Head of department of state 2. Members of government (elected) 3. Collective cabinet responsibility (unanimity, confidentiality, must defend collective decisions)
Functions of Heads of State in Europe (3) 1. Procedural (ratification of laws, presides of changing governments) 2. Diplomatic (hosting foreign delegations) 3. Symbol of nation/figurehead
2 Models of Democratic Governments 1. Majoritarian model: elected party gets total power and can push through decisions without regarding opposition (ex. UK) 2. Consensus model: attempts at broad consensus (usually leading to coalitions) (ex. Netherlands)
Role of Parliament (3) 1. Create, sustain or terminate governments 2. Legislating (submitting, reviewing, amending bills) 3. Scrutinizing the government
Interpellation When the minister is called to the floor to defend him or herself
Second/Upper Chamber Argument (for and against) FOR: check on overbearing majority in lower houses, and allows policy proposals to be discussed in less politicized manner AGAINST: waste of time and resources, repetitive/superfluous and fosters less democratic legitimacy
Distinguishing Party Families (3 approaches) 1. Genetic approach (shared origin?) 2. Behaviour approach (connection across borders) 3. Policies approach (type of policies proposed by party)
Main European Left Parties (4 + key points) 1. Social Democrats: late 19th century; now considered moderate; concerned with egalitarianism, welfarism 2. Communists: after 1917 (Marxism); now marginalized; anti free market, pro-state intervention 3. New Left: 60's/70's; a lot like communism but against Soviet-model communism 4. Greens: 80's; advocating for environmentalism, pacifism, development aid, progressive social values
Main European Right Parties (5 + key points) 1. Christian Democrats: Catholic, Protestant or both; conservative on social issues 2. Conservatives: advocates national interests, Euro-skeptic 3. Liberals: Advocate individual rights; minimal state intervention, progressive social values 4. Agrarian parties: special interest parties 5. Far Right: generally anti-immigration, Euroskeptical, populist
Concept of Cleavage (3) 1. Objective social division (occupation, religion, etc) 2. Existence of collective identity 3. Expressed in organizational terms (parties, churches, etc)
Types of Cleavages in Europe (4) 1. Centre vs. periphery (dominant culture vs. minorities) 2. Church vs. state 3. Rural vs. urban 4. Class cleavage (socioeconomic class divisions)
Freezing Hypothesis (& Unfreezing) The idea that nothing changed from the 1920's to 1970's because the cleavages in society and politics remained roughly unchanged. Lasted until period of "unfreezing", when there was a change in social structure/voting behaviour
Realignment vs. Dealignment Theories Realignment: the idea that, after a period of "unfreezing", new cleavages will form and become stable again, leading to new political equilibrium Dealignment: theory that stability will not return, and that traditional party set up is gone (cleavages more fluid)
Why are parties a "necessary evil"? ( 3) 1. Parties become powerful at expense of individual power 2. Parties institutionalize divisions in society 3. Political parties are needed for effective democracy
Party Functions (5) 1. Medium for expressing political thought 2. Representing voters 3. Recruit candidates for elections 4. Key actors in operation of government/legislature 5. Parties are link between state & society
Key Structures of Political Parties (3) 1. National executive (running party) 2. Local branches ("on the ground" contact) 3. Caucus (elected deputies in parliament)
Key Party People (3) 1. Party chairman (operation of party) 2. Party leader (political leader) 3. Head of parliamentary faction
Key Party Documents (2) 1. Party manifesto (long term goals, position on certain issues) 2. Party program (short-term plan; usually what voting is based on)
3 Faces of Political Parties 1. Party on the ground (door-to-door, leaflets, etc) 2. Party in central office (day-to-day organization of party) 3. Party in public office (in government/parliament)
2 Ways Candidates are Elected for Parties 1. List system: list of professional politicians who have likely worked their way up through party (common in Europe) 2. Single-majoritarian party: individually elected, usually based on personal appeal (typical of USA)
Sources of Party Finance (6) 1. Members' annual payments 2. MPs donate % of income 3. Fundraising 4. From interest groups 5. Private donors 6. State funding
Cadre Parties Parties which are dominated by a few elites, typical of the 19th century. Usually parties were made up of local notables. Limited voting (no women); party politics very small/elite
Mass-Parties Grassroots parties which popped up based on shared interests; typical of the 20th century. "Mass" because of the huge membership Ex. Marxist parties in Europe
Catch-All Parties Typical of parties in the post-WWII era; relatively moderate parties which gain as much of the electorate as possible; no clear ideology
Cartel Parties Most recent type of party, where the system of parties maintains status quo; consolidating powerful parties into a small number by changing the electoral system to concentrate votes (makes it hard for small parties to gain access)
Typology of Gunther & Diamond (3) 1. Organizational Thickness (thin: active around elections, or thick: always active) 2. Programmatic commitment (vague - clear programs or ideology) 2. Pluralist or proto-hegemonic
Proto-hegemonic Parties Parties which anticipate that once they are elected to power, they are the only truly legitimate party and therefore don't tolerate opposition
Types of Political Parties (5) 1. Elite parties (cadre or clientalistic party) 2. Mass-based parties 3. Ethnic-based parties (promoting interest of one ethnic group) 4. Electoralist parties (organizationally thin, programmatic parties) 5. Movement parties (part party, part movement; ex. green parties)
Types of Mass-Based Parties (6) 1. Class mass party 2. Leninist party 3. Pluralist national parties (often based on national minorities) 4. Ultranationalist parties (proto-hegemonic) 5. Denominational parties (religious) 6. Fundementalist parties
Significance of Elections (2) 1. Practical argument: creates governments/ruling elite 2. Symbolic argument: hallmark of democracy, reinforces legitimacy
Single Member Plurality Type of majoritarian electoral system which incorporates "first past the post" voting; whoever has the most votes, wins the district altogether
Merits & Drawbacks of Single Member Plurality Merits: can be more efficient/effective form of government, and it is easy for voters to understand. Also leads to high level of accountability Drawbacks: disproportional representation, can lead to strategic voting and gerrymandering
Strategic Voting Voting for who you think will win, not necessarily who you hope will win (usually used so that who you REALLY don't want to win is kept out)
Gerrymandering The intentional re-structuring of districts in order to capture the votes desired by a particular party
Two-Round System Type of majoritarian electoral system which allows for a candidate not getting 50%+1 in the first go. After the first vote, two best scores go into a second round, until one has 50%+1 (ex. France)
Proportional Representation Type of electoral system which is common in Europe; in this system, rather than winner-takes-all, seats in government are distributed based on proportion of votes Can either be through Single-transferable votes or list proportional representation
Merits Proportional System (4) 1. Representative of more types of groups 2. Fewer wasted votes 3. Consensus democracy 4. No personal fiefdoms
Disadvantages of Proportional Representation (3) 1. Risk of fragmentation leading to inefficiencies 2. Less direct accountability 3. Allows extremist parties to be represented
List-Proportional Representation (4 varieties/dimensions) 1. Electoral formula 2. District magnitude (ratio of seats:districts) 3. Electoral threshold (% of votes party needs to get representation) 4. Degree of choice
Degree of Choice in List-PR (3 types)1 Extent to which you can choose the individual you want to vote for in the party 1. Closed list (vote for party) 2. Semi-open list (candidates put in order of preference by party) 3. Open list (voters fully responsible for choosing individual)
Mixed Electoral System A combination of majoritarian and PR in parallel; usually means that there are two votes at elections - one for the party, and one for an individual Ex. Germany
Consequences of Electoral System Choice (6) 1. Proportionality 2. Degree of accountability 3. Number of parties 4. Coalitions or single party governments 5. Policy outputs 6. Backgrounds of MPs
Referendum A type of election whereby voters have a say in actual issues or policy decisions. It is usually only used under exceptional circumstances; things needing popular opinion. It can lead to inefficient democracy
Totalitarian Regime (5 features) 1. Goal of total control of everything 2. Secret police (use of fear) 3. Spying (even in community) 4. Propaganda promoting ideology 5. Mobilization and forced participation in regime
Command Economy (6) 1. Top-down production regulations 2. No entrepreneurs 3. Ignores laws of supply/demand 4. Collectivizing agriculture 5. Military industry 6. Trade within communist states
Benefits of Command Economy (3) 1. Formally no unemployment 2. Less inequality 3. Cradle-to-grave welfare
Weaknesses of Command Economy (4) 1. Shortages & surpluses 2. Low living standards 3. Low productivity 4. Rise in black market
Dissent against Soviet Union in East Bloc (4) 1. Tito in Yugoslavia 2. Albania chose Chinese-model communism 3. Poland did not collectivize agriculture 4. Popular uprisings (East Germany, Hungary, etc)
5 Patterns of Collapse of Communism 1. Pacted (agreed through authorities and opposition) 2. Popular uprisings 3. Gradual, through elections 4. Break up of state/civil war (Yugoslavia) 5. Independence from USSR (Russian Federation)
Transition from Communism Struggles (4 major factors) 1. Political reform (adopting constituion, creating parties, etc) 2. Economic reform (privatization of a centrally planned economy - usually lead to economic downturn) 3. Foreign policy reform (usually pro-West) 4. Socio/psychological (inequality increased, adapting to new life, rise of Ostalgie)
Communist Legacies in East Europe (2 trends) 1. Political: no democratic tradition in East Europe, weak civil society, distrust in politicians/parties 2. Economic: uncompetitive industry, lack of entrepreneurial spirit, reliance on state
Criteria for EU Accession (5) Outlined in Copenhagen Criteria (1993) 1. Stable democracy 2. Rule of law 3. Human/minority rights 4. Open/free market economy 5. Adoption of acquis communicataire
Acquis Communicataire Document which is thousands of pages long, outlining standards and regulations ensuring compatability within European Union. Must be adopted in order to gain membership
Context of Fall of Communism (3) 1. Idea of end of history (democracy = the best) 2. Third wave of democratization 3. Transition paradigm (countries move inevitably towards democracy)
Explanations for Lack of Democracy (9) 1. Institutional design 2. Perils of presidentialism 3. Legacies from the past (what were they like before) 4. Path dependency 5. Economic reform (partial reform trap) 6. Culture and values 7. State building (not having effective state) 8. Nation building 9. International factors
Perils of Presidentialism (5) 1. Legitimacy conflicts between president and legislature 2. Fixed term (hard to get rid of pres.) 3. Winner-takes-all 4. President is sometimes intolerant of opposition 5. "Outsiders" can win elections
Path Dependence The idea that once a country is on a certain path, it is unlikely to change course
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