Politics and Society in Western Europe is a comprehensive introduction for students of West European politics and of comparative politics. This new edition has been extensively revised and updated to meet with the new needs of undergraduate students as they come to terms with a changing social and political landscape in Europe.
This textbook provides a full analysis of the political systems of 18 Western European countries, their political parties, elections, and party systems, as well as the structures of government at local, regional, national and European Union levels.
Throughout the book, key theoretical ideas are accessibly introduced and examined against the very latest empirical data on civil society and the state.
Chapter 3: Political Parties
Political parties may be seen as intermediaries between civil society and the state with its political decision-making and policy implementation in government structures. Tocqueville wrote:
Civil associations, therefore, facilitate political associations; but, on the other hand, political associations singularly strengthen and improve associations for civil purposes. (Tocqueville, 1990: II, 115)
In political systems characterized by representative government political parties are the principal vehicles for political action. Interacting with citizens' and interest organizations, parties express and organize political demand and support in relation to social cleavages; parties recruit government decision-makers whose behaviour has a profound impact upon society by means of the implementation by bureaucracies of government decisions and actions. Party government is characteristic of democracy in large-scale polities. Not even small Switzerland with its ...