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Book part
Publication date: 29 January 2021

Simon Toubeau

How are we to make sense of the attitudes of Social Democratic parties towards decentralisation? What do they think about what is a legitimate territorial allocation of…

Abstract

How are we to make sense of the attitudes of Social Democratic parties towards decentralisation? What do they think about what is a legitimate territorial allocation of power? What factors shapes this view? And what makes Social Democratic parties change their minds? This article addresses these questions by way of competing ideological traditions, the external strategic incentives and internal constraints. Empirically, the article presents a comparative case-study analysis of Social Democratic parties in four countries (Belgium, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom). On the basis of this analysis, I argue that the positioning of Social Democratic parties on decentralisation is influenced by strategic incentives created by the structure of political competition, whereas the policy shifts are more often produced by factors that are internal to the party. A decentralist policy shift is always associated with the capacity of regionalist parties to set the agenda by exerting pressures on Social Democratic parties. In addition, Social Democratic parties tend to shift their policy while in opposition to distinguish themselves from their centralist mainstream rival in government. The dominant mechanism found across four countries was one in which regional branches persuade the central party leadership to adopt a pro-decentralist position. This chapter illustrates how Social Democratic parties have an instinct for ‘adaptation and control’ in the face of social-structural changes, and it demonstrates that the prevalence of different ideological traditions will vary according to external strategic incentives and, crucially, by the party's internal ability to follow those incentives.

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Book part
Publication date: 29 January 2021

Elisabeth Bakke and Nick Sitter

It is often said that we live in a time of crisis for social democracy. Many of the West European centre-left parties that seemed the natural parties of government in the…

Abstract

It is often said that we live in a time of crisis for social democracy. Many of the West European centre-left parties that seemed the natural parties of government in the second half of the twentieth century are in decline. The most common long-term explanations centre on a shrinking working class, a widening gap between the party elite and their core voters, and the challenges from new populist parties and/or greens. Short-term policy factors include the failure to address the recent financial and refugee crises. None of these factors carry much explanatory weight for developments in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in the three decades since the transition from communism. We find that much of the explanation for the rise and the fall of the five social democratic parties in these countries lies in the dynamics of party competition and party system change. All parties face dilemmas of policy, electoral appeal and coalition-building. The Central European cases suggest that it is how social democrats handle such challenges and make difficult choices about strategy and tactics that ultimately shapes their long-term fate. Centre-left parties are stronger masters of their fortunes than much of the literature on the decline of social democracy suggests. Consequently, seeking a common structural explanation for the rise and decline of social democratic parties might be a double fallacy: both empirically misleading and a poor base for policy advice.

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Social Democracy in the 21st Century
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-953-3

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Book part
Publication date: 17 September 2014

Maria Elisabetta Lanzone

The chapter analyzes the characteristics of a new political subject, the Five Star Movement, which arose in Italy in 2005 (as local civil lists), was officially…

Abstract

The chapter analyzes the characteristics of a new political subject, the Five Star Movement, which arose in Italy in 2005 (as local civil lists), was officially constituted in 2009, and became the most voted-for party in the 2013 general election, when the country was hit by a strong surge of populism. This party was founded by the Italian comedian Beppe Grillo and launched via his Internet blog. The chapter will be divided into five parts: a brief introduction about the general context and a description of the Italian political framework and the general crisis of traditional parties, setting the scene from which the discussion will develop. Then, in Section “‘People against the Parties’: The Five Star Movement’s Populist Messages,” I will describe the global characteristics of the Five Star Movement, with an analysis of Grillo’s party communication style, especially its use of social media, its people call (with its enemies), and its mobilization strategies. In Section “Inside the Movement: The Party’s Structural Characteristics,” I will describe the party’s internal organization, in order to underline some controversial elements. In the conclusion I will hazard some hypotheses about the party’s destiny, compared to other populist examples.

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The Many Faces of Populism: Current Perspectives
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-258-5

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Book part
Publication date: 29 January 2021

Abstract

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Social Democracy in the 21st Century
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-953-3

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Expert briefing
Publication date: 11 October 2019

Italy's party system.

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Article
Publication date: 29 February 2008

Calliope Spanou

The paper attempts to assess the impact of reforms of the last 25 years on Greek administration and more specifically on its Napoleonic features. Given that those have…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper attempts to assess the impact of reforms of the last 25 years on Greek administration and more specifically on its Napoleonic features. Given that those have been reshaped by country specific socio‐political dynamics, the analysis starts by pointing out the Napoleonic features but also specific features its Greek variant. These form the context of reforms undertaken and determine their trajectories as well as their limitations.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper examines four basic reform areas linked to important features of Napoleonic states: centrality of the state, centralised bureaucratic structures, labour relations in the public sector, and citizens‐administration relations. The rationale of reforms is discussed in relation to NPM trends but also to domestic challenges and priorities.

Findings

The significance of reforms undertaken varies. The state's presence in the economy has been significantly reduced and decentralisation reforms are more important politically than administratively. Citizens' rights and service delivery have been conceived rather as forms of democratisation and modernisation than as managerial reforms. Only recently labour relations in the public sector have been partly challenged while other reform aspects such as “agencification”, systematically by‐passing existing bureaucratic structures start to be part of the picture. Change has been incremental and followed pre‐established paths. The “Napoleonic” features of the state have not been seriously affected and reforms have hardly been reshaped by the new managerial paradigm. While the state remains the main reform actor and the law a typical policy instrument, a distinctive reform path emerges in Greece, as defined by the apparently contradictory rationale of a number of initiatives responding to old as much to new challenges.

Originality/value

Provides a brief account of important aspects of the Greek variant of the Napoleonic state and the context of recent reforms. Features and limits of reforms are also discussed. Finally, a tentative assessment answers the central question of the paper.

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International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 21 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

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Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2011

Cedric de Leon

Numerous commentators have suggested that Barack Obama represents a new “post-racial” politics in the United States, distinct from a pre-existing contentious form that…

Abstract

Numerous commentators have suggested that Barack Obama represents a new “post-racial” politics in the United States, distinct from a pre-existing contentious form that originated with the civil rights era. Drawing on secondary historical data, Mr. Obama's presidential campaign speeches, and county-level electoral returns from Indiana and North Carolina, I argue in contrast to such claims that post-racial politics comprise the latest in a line of successive attempts by the Democratic Party to articulate the New Deal voting bloc, in which the white suburban middle class is the primary constituency while African Americans are of secondary importance. By addressing the question of “Obama and the Politics of Race” in this way, this chapter seeks to integrate political parties into the study of racial ideologies. Specifically, it suggests that the latter may originate and subsequently develop in the context of partisan struggle.

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Rethinking Obama
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-911-1

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Book part
Publication date: 22 October 2020

Gerasimos Karoulas

The ‘symbiotic’ relationship between media and politics has multiple effects on the way political elites act and behave. However, only limited attention has been given on…

Abstract

The ‘symbiotic’ relationship between media and politics has multiple effects on the way political elites act and behave. However, only limited attention has been given on the impact of contemporary media in the emerging, recruitment and composition of the political elites. Drawing heavily on the various approaches of social, political and media capital, this chapter paper seeks to explore the main profiles and paths of the politicians having practised media-related professions, during the last 30 years in Greece. For the scopes of our research we will take advantage of two related databases offering quantitative data. Our analysis demonstrates that media have a considerable impact in political selection procedure given the fact that elected candidates with a media background have increased considerably during the last years, their candidacies are mainly addressed to wide electorates, while media constitutes an important path for the elections in political elites' positions.

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The Emerald Handbook of Digital Media in Greece
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-401-2

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1982

Kenneth Pardey

The cardinal point to note here is that the development (and unfortunately the likely potential) of area policy is intimately related to the actual character of British…

Abstract

The cardinal point to note here is that the development (and unfortunately the likely potential) of area policy is intimately related to the actual character of British social policy. Whilst area policy has been strongly influenced by Pigou's welfare economics, by the rise of scientific management in the delivery of social services (cf Jaques 1976; Whittington and Bellamy 1979), by the accompanying development of operational analyses and by the creation of social economics (see Pigou 1938; Sandford 1977), social policy continues to be enmeshed with the flavours of Benthamite utilitatianism and Social Darwinism (see, above all, the Beveridge Report 1942; Booth 1889; Rowntree 1922, 1946; Webb 1926). Consequently, for their entire history area policies have been coloured by the principles of a national minimum for the many and giving poorer areas a hand up, rather than a hand out. The preceived need to save money (C.S.E. State Apparatus and Expenditure Group 1979; Klein 1974) and the (supposed) ennobling effects of self help have been the twin marching orders for area policy for decades. Private industry is inadvertently called upon to plug the resulting gaps in public provision. The conjunction of a reluctant state and a meandering private sector has fashioned the decaying urban areas of today. Whilst a large degree of party politics and commitment has characterised the general debate over the removal of poverty (Holman 1973; MacGregor 1981), this has for the most part bypassed the ‘marginal’ poorer areas (cf Green forthcoming). Their inhabitants are not usually numerically significant enough to sway general, party policies (cf Boulding 1967) and the problems of most notably the inner cities has been underplayed.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 2 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 22 August 2008

Desmond Uelese Amosa

The purpose of this paper is to examine claims that the removal of tenure in favour of fixed‐term employment contracts has led to some politicization of top‐level…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine claims that the removal of tenure in favour of fixed‐term employment contracts has led to some politicization of top‐level appointments in the Samoa public service. The intention is not only to shed light on how politicization is perceived in a small developing society, but also to determine whether such claims are well founded and if so, what the implications are for a small public service like that in Samoa.

Design/methodology/approach

Data are gathered from government documents, literature review and the experience of the author as a former senior public servant in Samoa.

Findings

While the claims cannot be fully endorsed at this stage, it is clear that there was some politicization of senior public service appointments and, importantly, the outcomes in most cases were unfavourable for Samoa's public service.

Originality/value

Politicization of the appointment of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in Samoa's public service since the shift to employment contracts in the early 1990s has not previously been reviewed. Apparently the ramifications of politicizing the appointment of CEOs have, in most cases, proved unproductive for the public service and its stakeholders. Hence the Public Service Commission, which is the main advisory body, urgently needs to recommend necessary changes to avert political appointments in the future.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 21 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

Keywords

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