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About this book

This popular and highly praised text provides a lively and accessible introduction to the governance and politics of Europe.

Thematically structured to address the key institutions and issues, it is genuinely pan-European in scope. Although no country is ignored, a range of representative countries (the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK) as well as the European Union itself, are used as key examples throughout the book and each of them is the subject of an in-depth double-page country profiles. The text is supported by a range of features, including:

- Double-page country profiles with coverage of key issues
- Debate boxes which give the pros and cons of contested issues
- Key Point boxes to reinforce learning and aid revision
- Further Reading, Web Links and Discussion Questions for each chapter

The third edition has been fully revised and updated to take account of the latest developments and now includes coverage of the Eurozone crisis, governments' austerity measures and recent legislation affecting privacy and human rights.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Europe — a continent in the making

Abstract
Covering around 10 million square kilometres or just under 4 million square miles, Europe is the second smallest of the world’s seven continents. But it is number three in terms of population: over 725 million people live there, some thinly spread in the cold of the far north or the heat of the far south, but most packed closely together in towns and cities. That population density, combined with centuries of international trade and the fact that it was the home of the industrial revolution, has made Europe one of the richest and most powerful parts of the globe. In times past, it was also one of the most violent. Its turbulent history was crowned in the twentieth century by two world wars, after which it was divided during nearly fifty years of Cold War into the capitalist ‘West’ and the communist ‘East’. With the collapse of the latter, however, Europe now contains more genuinely democratic states than any other continent on earth.
Tim Bale

Chapter 4. Governments and parliaments — a long way from equality

Abstract
Chapter 3 looked at governance, but, in addition to looking at policy making, it concentrated on the changing architecture of the state and the non-elected people who help to run it, be they civil servants or judges. Now, we turn to governments — the representative part of the executive.
Tim Bale

Chapter 6. Elections, voting and referendums — systems, turnout, preferences and unpredictability

Abstract
The term ‘democracy; like the term ‘Europe’, disguises a wealth of variation. Representative democracy, at a minimum, implies the chance for every adult to vote periodically (see Box 6.1) in order to help choose and hold accountable those who legislate and govern on their behalf. Democracy came to Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But the process was far from complete even before it was set back for decades, first, by authoritarian dictatorships which began in the 1930s and, second, by the forty years of communist rule in east-central Europe which followed the Second World War. In France, Italy, Belgium and Greece, for instance, women won the vote only in the wake of that conflict; in most parts of Europe, they won it just before or not long after the First World War, although in Switzerland they had to wait — almost unbelievably — until 1971. On the other hand, in all European countries, the age at which people become entitled to vote (though not to stand as candidates) now matches the age at which they legally become adults, with the sole exception of Austria which, after passing legislation in 2007, now allows people to vote from the age of sixteen — an experiment that seems not to have produced spectacular or surprising results (Wagner et al., 2012). There is more variation, however, surrounding the participation of citizens living overseas.
Tim Bale

Chapter 8. Participation and pressure politics — civil society, organized interests and social movements

Abstract
The idea at the heart of representative democracy in Europe (see Chapter 6) is that citizens play a role in their own governance via the election of parliaments (and possibly presidents). It is also generally accepted that, like it or not, parties play a mediating role, helping to structure choices and aggregate interests, be they economic or cultural or religious (see Chapter 5). At the very least, according to the Austrian economist and political analyst Joseph Schumpeter — a man who thought too much citizen participation would be unworkable — parties provide competing teams of managers that we can choose between at the ballot box (see Best and Higley, 2010). But it would be a very ‘thin’ conception of democracy indeed that supposed citizens would — or, indeed, should — limit their participation to joining parties and voting or, between elections, be content simply to leave the politicians and the bureaucrats to get on with it. After all, the policies initiated and implemented between those elections will rarely suit everyone and may even be seen as unfair by some people. Unless of course they happen to own a huge media empire, individuals are rarely so powerful that they can hope to influence policy on their own. They also recognize that voting and political parties are not the only way to exercise that influence or simply to get involved. They are, therefore, likely to engage in other forms of political participation.
Tim Bale

Chapter 9. Politics over markets: does politics — and left and right — still matter?

Abstract
In 2009, Iceland, one of the European countries worst hit by the world financial crisis, experienced something akin to a revolution — or at least a demonstration that ‘people power’ still counts. The country’s right-wing government, which many ordinary Icelanders felt — with some justification — had let the country’s investment and banking sectors run out of control during the boom years, was refusing to acknowledge responsibility and clinging onto power. In January 2009, when parliament (the Althingi) assembled after the Christmas break, thousands came out on to the surrounding streets, many banging together pots and pans and a few throwing missiles of other descriptions at the parliament buildings. Eventually, one of the government parties, the Social Democrats, cracked and pulled the plug on its coalition with the ruling Independence Party, leading to the formation, just prior to and then after a general election of the country’s first socialist-green party government and its first female prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, who was, incidentally, also Europe’s first openly lesbian head of government. Her administration then set about big policy changes, not the least of which was to maintain welfare and other spending in order to avoid the kind of austerity that, it believed, would choke off growth. Since then, as many other European countries have chosen to make cuts and risk recession, Iceland’s economy has recovered.
Tim Bale

11. Protecting and promoting — Europe’s international politics

Abstract
No exploration of the politics of a continent is complete without an assessment of how the states within it handle — both jointly and severally — their relations with each other and with the rest of the world. Such an assessment is far from easy. Europe contains states of vastly different weights and sizes. Some fought wars against each other, often alongside allies (most obviously the USA) that are now rivals as well as friends. Some have close geographical or colonial relationships with countries that barely even registered on the radar of other states in spite of the fact that they are now part of the same ‘ever closer union’. The latter (the EU) is not a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Neither (see Laatikainen and Smith, 2006) does it have much leverage there over the two member states (France and Britain) who are, even though neither can claim the population or the economic power of Germany, which isn’t. Not only does each European state have more or less unique ideas (and pretensions) about its interests and its role in the world, it also goes about promoting, playing, and deciding on them in very different ways. Moreover, there are many analysts who would regard it as hopelessly old-fashioned and simplistic to talk about states as if they were unitary and potentially autonomous actors.
Tim Bale
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