that demands for reform were hardening. This was
demonstrated by growing support for the Liberal Democrats, who strongly
advocated reform, for campaign groups such as Charter 88 and for Scottish
and Welsh Nationalists.
The principles of Labour’s reform
We can divide Labour’s reform programme into the following processes.
Democratisation. Too much of the British political system was seen as undemocratic. The prime targets were the unelected House of Lords, and the notoriously unrepresentative electoralsystem.
Decentralisation. As we have seen above, Labour
, the number
of parliamentary parties is largely influenced by the mechanical process
of translating votes into seats (Charlot, 1993).
Analysis of vote transfers between the two rounds of legislative elections
points out the substantial effect of the bipolar constraints imposed by
the second ballot, the impossibility of minor parties gaining sufficient
support to win parliamentary representation, and the tendency for the
electoralsystem to manufacture parliamentary majorities for parties that
have not necessarily received majority support from the voters. The
rules of the game favour a bipolarised party system, as we shall see later
on when we briefly consider the 2002 elections. In historical terms, these
institutional factors were even more important. With the emergence of
strong, stable governments encouraged by the 1958 constitution, parties
were deprived of their former capacity for Byzantine political manoeuvre
in an Assembly-dominated regime.
A separate but related institutional argument highlights the role of
the two-ballot electoralsystem in parliamentary elections (Bartolini, 1984).
By its discriminatory effects
been further consolidated by a third round of regional elections conducted
over the period 1999–2001.
Manipulation of the electoralsystem
However, the cynical nature in which President Yeltsin manipulated the
election process in the regions has done much to damage the develop-
Regional elections and political parties
ment of a democratic political culture. Yeltsin’s victory over the parliamentarians signalled a victory of executive power over legislative power
which eventually led to the development of a semi
Scottish Parliament), the other for a party.
The electoralsystem is known as the additional member system (AMS). The
parliament sits in Edinburgh. It has fixed electoral terms. Elections take place
every four years. Following the first elections to the Scottish Parliament in
1999, the strength of the parties was as shown in table 12.1.
Allocation of seats in the Scottish Parliament after 1999
Others (Green and Independent)
Understanding British and European
pressure to ensure that all groups are represented in any political system means that complex electoralsystems have to
be adopted. Some of the groups, furthermore, have their own military wings
which they only partially control. Failure to satisfy them all may result in a
continuation of violence, even from very small splinter groups. Above all,
however, the multi-party nature of Northern Ireland politics means that there
is always likely to be a lack of coherence in any of the various movements
which jockey each other for influence.
Schill, achieved success with almost 20 percent the of
the vote in Hamburg in the fall of 2001. This was the largest vote ever
received by a “flash party” in Germany.
The Länder and German federalism
Electoralsystems in the Länder
German electoralsystems are known for their complexity. Though less
known, the electoralsystems at the local level are especially complicated by
American or British standards.30 At the Land level, Bremen, Hamburg, and
the Saarland have a simple proportional representation (PR) system,
the government, and draw public attention to the
perceived flaws in the government’s policies. Given the nature of the
“Westminster” model, however, there is little or nothing the other parties
can do to change or delay government policy. The continental European
models are more consensus-oriented, because with very few exceptions
the governments (cabinets) are composed of coalitions of two or more
parties (which is largely the result of the electoralsystem), with the head
of government (prime minister, chancellor) usually drawn from the ranks
of the largest party
using proportional representation electoralsystem
based on the Departments. (The two-ballot electoralsystem was reinstated
from November 1986.) First direct elections to regional councils held.
20 September 1992 Referendum
narrowly approves Maastricht Treaty (51 per cent vote in favour).
24 January 1999 National
Front splits (mainly concerning strategies relating to alliances with other
second-order European elections, and as Alistair Cole notes in the
opening chapter of this volume, ‘on the margins’ – the extremes and,
at the mass level, among the disenfranchised, disenchanted pool of voters
who are casting protest votes or abstaining in apparently ever-greater
quantities – a different set of circumstances pertain, given the differing
electoralsystems and a separate set of stakes. There, the moderate right
has not been entirely cut off from the extreme right, illustrated in
particular by the ill-fated compromise by four UDF regional presidents