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Institutional Change in Advanced European Democracies: an exploratory assessment

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  • Camille Bedock
  • Peter Mair and Alex Wilson

Abstract

Recent decades have seen a wave of institutional changes of the core democratic rules in advanced democracies. These changes include reforms of electoral systems; decentralization of power to sub-national governments; the creation or enhancement of direct-democratic institutions; a rise in public subsidies to political parties; and shifts in the balance of power between executive and legislature. Nevertheless, political science has developed a limited understanding of what explains institutional change in democracies that are already consolidated. This is partly due to the lack of comparative data on the subject, with most studies of institutional change focusing on a single country, or on a single type of reform (e.g. electoral system change). Our paper seeks to bridge this gap by presenting the preliminary findings of an international research project that compared seven dimensions of institutional change in 18 consolidated European democracies between 1990 and 2008, producing a unique dataset whose content has been fully verified by national experts. This dataset provides the empirical basis for evaluating the type and extent of institutional change in consolidated European democracies, as well as developing hypotheses about the motivations and calculations behind these reforms.

Suggested Citation

  • Camille Bedock & Peter Mair and Alex Wilson, 2012. "Institutional Change in Advanced European Democracies: an exploratory assessment," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 11, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:euirsc:p0314
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carles Boix, 1999. "Setting the rules of the game: The choice of electoral systems in advanced democracies," Economics Working Papers 367, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    2. Josep M. Colomer, 2005. "It's Parties That Choose Electoral Systems (or, Duverger's Laws Upside Down)," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 53, pages 1-21, March.
    3. Mair, Peter, 2005. "Popular Democracy and the European Union Polity," European Governance Papers (EUROGOV) 3, CONNEX and EUROGOV networks.
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