The British Prime Minister: More Than First Among Equals

Heffernan, Richard and Webb, Paul (2007). The British Prime Minister: More Than First Among Equals. In: Poguntke, Thomas and Webb, Paul eds. The Presidentialization of Politics: A Comparative Study of Modern Democracies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.



About the book:
The Presidentialization of Politics shows that the politics of democratic societies is moving towards a presidentialized working mode, even in the absence of formal institutional changes. These developments can be explained by a combination of long-term structural changes in modern politics and societies' contingent factors which fluctuate over time. While these contingent, short-term factors relate to the personalities of office holders, the overall political agenda, and the majority situation in parliament, there are several structural factors which are relatively uniform across modern nations. First, the internationalization of modern politics (which is particularly pronounced within the European Union) has led to an 'executive bias' of the political process which has strengthened the role of political top elites vis-à-vis their parliamentary groups and/or their parties. Their predominance has been amplified further by the vastly expanded steering capacities of state machineries which have severely reduced the scope of effective parliamentary control. At the same time, the declining stability of political alignments has increased the proportion of citizens whose voting decisions are not constrained by long-standing party loyalties. In conjunction with the mediatization of politics, this has increased the capacity of political leaders to by-pass their party machines and to appeal directly to voters.
As a result, three interrelated processes have led to a political process increasingly moulded by the inherent logic of presidentialism: increasing leadership power and autonomy within the political executive; increasing leadership power and autonomy within political parties; and increasingly leadership-centred electoral processes.
The book presents evidence for this process of presidentialization for 14 modern democracies (including the US and Canada). While there are substantial cross-national differences, the overall thesis holds: modern democracies are increasingly following a presidential logic of governance through which leadership is becoming more central and more powerful, but also increasingly dependent on successful immediate appeal to the mass public. Implications for democratic theory are considered.

1. The Presidentialization of Politics in Democratic Societies: A Framework for Analysis The Presidentialization of Democracy in Democratic Societies , Thomas Poguntke and Paul Webb
2. The British Prime Minister: Much More Than nullFirst Among Equalsnull , Richard Heffernan and Paul Webb
3. A Presidentializing Party State? The Federal Republic of Germany , Thomas Poguntke
4. Presidentialization, Italian Style , Mauro Calise
5. The Presidentialization of Spanish Democracy: Sources of Prime Ministerial Power in Post-Franco Spain , Ingrid van Biezen and Jonathan Hopkin
6. The Low Countries: From nullPrime Ministernull to President-Minister , Stefaan Fiers and Andre´ Krouwel
7. Denmark: Presidentialization in a Consensual Democracy , Karina Pedersen and Tim Knudsen
8. nullPresident PerssonnullnullHow Did Sweden Get Him? , Nicholas Aylott
9. Canada: Executive Dominance and Presidentialization , Herman Bakvis and Steven B. Wolinetz
10. Dyarchic Presidentialization in a Presidentialized Polity: The French Fifth Republic , Ben Clift
11. Finland: Let the Force Be with the Leadernull But Who Is the Leader? , Heikki Paloheimo
12. The Presidentialization of Portuguese Democracy? , Marina Costa Lobo
13. The Failure of Presidential Parliamentarism: Constitutional versus Structural Presidentialization in Israelnulls Parliamentary Democracy , Reuven Y. Hazan
14. The Semi-Sovereign American Prince: The Dilemma of an Independent President in a Presidential Government , Sergio Fabbrini
15. The Presidentialization of Contemporary Democratic Politics: Evidence, Causes, and Consequences , Paul Webb and Thomas Poguntke

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