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11 books that deal with contemporary government and comparative political science [Reading List]

Our Comparative Politics series deals with contemporary government and politics. Global in scope, books in the series are characterized by a stress on comparative analysis and strong methodological rigour. It is a series for not just students and teachers but for researchers of political science too. Books in the series range from coalition governance to parliaments throughout time to reforming democracy.

With the European Consortium for Political Research’s 2019 conference taking place this month, we’ve assembled a reading list of books that we publish in cooperation with the independent scholarly association.

The Reshaping of West European Party Politics

Long gone are the times when class-based political parties with extensive membership dominated politics. Instead, party politics has become issue-based. Christoffer Green-Pedersen’s book highlights the more complex party system agenda with the decline, but not disappearance, of macroeconomic issues as well as the rise in ‘new politics’ issues together with education and health care. It also presents a new model of issue competition among political parties based on a new coding of party manifestos.

Parliaments in Time

Michael Koß offers a new approach to understanding the institutional development of parliaments. How can we explain the evolution of legislatures in Western Europe? This book analyses ninety procedural reforms which restructured control over the plenary agenda and committee power in Britain, France, Sweden, and Germany between 1866 and 2015.

Read a free chapter here

Inequality After the Transition

Ekrem Karakoç’s book is an all-encompassing examination of the origins, increase, and persistence of inequality in new democracies. It challenges the conventional thinking found in much of the democratization-inequality literature, and offers a new theory. It speaks simultaneously to literature of democratization, party systems, social policy, and inequality to explain why democracies are not able to fulfill their promise to the disadvantaged and why they cannot achieve income equality.

Read a free chapter here

Democracy and the Cartelization of Political Parties

This book traces the evolution of parties from the model of the mass party, through the catch-all party model, to argue that by the late 20th century the principal governing parties and were effectively forming a cartel, in which the form of competition might remain, and indeed even appear to intensify, while its substance was increasingly hollowed out. Richard S. Katz and Peter Mair examine what cartelization means for parties and party systems, and what cartelization of the parties means for the future of democracy

Read a free chapter here

From Party Politics to Personalized Politics?
What do Beppe Grillo, Silvio Berlusconi, Emmanuel Macron (and also Donald Trump) have in common? They are prime examples of the personalization of politics and the decline of political parties. Gideon Rahat and Ofer Kenig provide fresh new insights into the study of both party change and political personalization through a cross-national comparative analysis

Read a free chapter here

Multi-Level Electoral Politics
This book explains how party and voter behaviour in a given election is affected by the existence of multiple electoral arenas. It focuses on three levels of elections in France, Germany, and Spain and produces useful insights about politics from these three major EU countries.

Read a free chapter here

Organizing Political Parties
Political party organizations play large roles in democracies, yet their organizations differ widely, and their statutes change much more frequently than constitutions or electoral laws. How do these differences, and these frequent changes, affect the operation of democracy? Organizing Political Parties provides a comparative study of representation and political participation in contemporary democracies.

Read a free chapter here

Reforming Democracy
Camille Bedock demonstrates how quantitative and qualitative methods can be combined in an empirical research. This study provides both a better empirical understanding of the world of democratic reforms in consolidated democracies, thanks to a new data-set covering six dimensions of reform in 18 European countries.

Read a free chapter here

Party Reform
Anika Gauja analyzes the last ten years of party reform across a handful of established democracies including Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany to examine what motivates political parties to undertake organizational reforms and how they go about this process.

Read a free chapter here

How Europeans View and Evaluate Democracy

Based on a new data-set covering 29 European and neighboring countries, this volume shows how Europeans view and evaluate democracy: what are their conceptions of democracy, how do they assess the quality of democracy in their own country, and to what extent do they consider their country’s democracy as legitimate?

Read a free chapter here

Faces on the Ballot

Alan Renwick and Jean-Benoit Pilet provide a rich, detailed historical account and analysis of electoral systems and electoral reforms from a comparative study of 31 European countries. Studying the evolution of electoral systems in European democracies since 1945, they demonstrate that, since the 1990s, there has been a shift towards more personalized electoral systems.

Read a free chapter here

Image credit: Knowledge by Alfons Morales via Unsplash

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