Acta Politica

Published by Palgrave Macmillan
Print ISSN: 0001-6810
Globalization has thrown up challenges and opportunities which all countries have to grapple with. In his book, Yongnian Zheng explores how China’s leaders have embraced global capitalism and market-oriented modernization. He shows that with reform measures properly implemented, the nation-state can not only survive globalization, but can actually be revitalized through outside influence. To adapt to the globalized age, Chinese leaders have encouraged individual enterprise and the development of the entrepreneurial class. The state bureaucratic system and other important economic institutions have been restructured to accommodate a globalized market economy. In rebuilding the economic system in this way, Zheng observes that Chinese leaders have been open to the importation of Western ideas. By contrast, the same leaders are reluctant to import Western concepts of democracy and the rule of law. The author argues that, ultimately, this selectivity will impede China’s progress in becoming a modern nation state.
The main question of this article is when, how and why the political system of the Netherlands has changed from a typical consensus democracy towards a more adversarial-driven system. We examine the change in Dutch politics across time with a special focus on the dynamics of the party system and type of coalition governments emerging after the 1970s. Our analysis indicates that Dutch politics has indeed become less consensus driven and party behaviour in particular tends to a more adversarial modus. In addition, our comparative analysis demonstrates that the Dutch political system has moved in a different direction than most others. Using Lijphart's indicators of Consensus Democracy we find that the direction of change is mainly towards less adversarial politics, whereas the Netherlands moved in an opposite direction. This change, occurring mainly after 1990, persists as a `pendulum consociationalism', strengthening and weakening over time. Apparently, adjustment and flexible response to a changing electoral climate and related party behaviour results in a cyclical movement as regards to party interactions between the established parties and successful `newcomers'.Acta Politica (2008) 43, 154-179. doi:10.1057/ap.2008.4
Dutch politics has experienced quite some change since the 1980s. In the past, these changes are due to contextual developments like the ending of the Cold War and the broadening and deepening of the EU. At the same time Dutch society has changed as well as its socio-economic profile and performance. This special issue examines the effects of these changes on the working of the Dutch political system. In a nutshell it signifies a farewell to consociationalism.Acta Politica (2008) 43, 149-153. doi:10.1057/ap.2008.5
This article analyses Dutch European and foreign policy-making since the end of the Cold War as a two-level game that changed because of alterations in the polarity and interaction density of the international system, intensified European integration and a greater involvement of domestic actors. On the basis of an analysis of four policy areas (security and defence, trade and agriculture, European integration, and new security issues), it traces and explains changes in the content of Dutch foreign policy and the nature of the policy-making process. It argues that although the Netherlands enjoys more room for manoeuvre at a global level, it is simultaneously more constrained by a loss of power at the European level, on the one hand, and a growing influence of domestic stakeholders, on the other hand.Acta Politica (2008) 43, 357-377. doi:10.1057/ap.2008.12
The French electorate in the elections of 2002 focused on one primary issue: insecurity. The left's main advantage — 5 years of successful reforms — was trumped by the right's ability to capitalize on the fear of crime. As a result, Jean-Marie Le Pen edged out Lionel Jospin in the first round of the presidential elections. However, this proved short-lived as Jacques Chirac and the parliamentary right organized a successful campaign to take the issue of insecurity away from Le Pen and the National Front, attracting voters from all parts of the political spectrum to support a moderate, republican attack on crime, eschewing the anti-immigrant and anti-Moslem politics of the extreme right. The presidential and legislative elections ended in triumph for the parliamentary right and total defeat for Le Pen and the National Front. Although the far right was marginalized once more, its structural strengths in places such as Provence and its appeal to protest voters guarantee that it will not disappear as a force. Still, the elections of 2002 reinforced the dominance of two political parties in France — the parliamentary right and the socialist left — to the detriment of all others.Acta Politica (2003) 38, 109–123. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500028
During the Dutch parliamentary elections of 2002, the new party ‘List of Pim Fortuyn’ (LPF) has won 26 seats mainly at the cost of the governing parties: next to D66, the PvdA and the VVD, which both hoped to win the elections. After the election, these parties had become smaller than CDA and LPF. Why could one ‘newcomer’ without a well-developed party organization gain such a smashing electoral victory? We argue that who wants to understand Fortuyn's victory should study his victims, i.e. the ‘established’ main parties on the left and right of the Dutch party system. We argue that the programmatic convergence of the established parties has made them look more similar and therefore almost indistinguishable in the eyes of many voters. This has reinforced the feeling of many voters that the established parties form merely a ‘cartel’ without having a sense for the problems of ordinary citizens, let alone the capacity to solve them. In addition, the ongoing rise of electoral volatility in the Netherlands shaped the room for ‘catching’ this segment of the Dutch electorate. Fortuyn effectively used this discontent by means of right-wing populism. Although he was often pictured as a right-wing extremist, this is not a convincing argument when his party programme is compared with other European parties that are considered either as ‘conservative’ or as part of the emerging ‘new right’ party family. The dramatic decline in votes of the LPF in the elections of January 2003 does not mean that the impact of this party has vanished. Rather the programmatic positions of the main parties were affected by the rise of the LPF. Most parties have moved further to the right of the party system in 2003 in order to become more attractive to voters who voted for the LPF in 2002.Acta Politica (2003) 38, 51–68. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500001
A commonly heard explanation of the results of the May 2002 parliamentary election is that the vote changes occurred because of a shift to the right within the electorate. Previously published results are summarized here to show that this hypothesis must be rejected. Instead, a second hypothesis is formulated which explains the vote shifts in terms of the new calculations that voters were forced to make when a new, credible party entered the electoral marketplace. The analysis here presents empirical support for this hypothesis by demonstrating that voters were aware of the positions taken by the List Pim Fortuyn (LPF), especially on those issues that Pim Fortuyn had placed at the forefront of the political agenda. Voters clearly saw the LPF as a party of the right on these issues. The positions that are perceived to have been taken by the electorate in the eyes of the voter are as important as the positions taken by the voters themselves in understanding the May 2002 results.Acta Politica (2003) 38, 69–87. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500004
Votes gain and loss for Belgian parties (cartels) between wave 2 and wave 4 comparing DVT-users with non-DVT-users (differences in %)
This paper assesses empirically the electoral impact of an immensely popular Vote Advice Application and TV show (`Do the Vote Test') during the 2004 Belgian election campaign. Vote Advice Applications are becoming more popular in several Western countries and ever more voters get a voting advice during an election campaign. Drawing on a large panel of Internet users, the study systematically compares users and non-users of this Vote Advice Application, testing whether getting a personal vote advice made any difference. We find that `Do the Vote Test' indeed has affected Belgian voters' final decision but at the same time these effects were modest. Some parties gained some votes due to the `Do the Vote Test', and others lost some votes, but probably the application did not strongly affect the overall election outcomes. Finally, we show that people's subjective perceptions of the impact of `Do the Vote Test' on their actual electoral behaviour are often contradictory.Acta Politica (2008) 43, 50-70. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500209
Consociational theory leads us to expect relatively inclusive coalitions, relatively egalitarian and depoliticized cabinets, and relatively stable governments during the heyday of pillarization (1945-1966). Compared to that period, coalitions have indeed become less inclusive, more politicized, and slightly less stable. There is less empirical evidence of a significant change towards more hierarchical cabinets. In addition, the data in this paper also contradict some widely held beliefs about post-consociational coalition politics: there is no evidence that cabinet crises used to result in the formation of a new coalition before 1967, and to immediate elections since 1967; and there is no evidence that since 1967 cabinet crises and ministerial resignations result more often from a conflict in the cabinet room rather than from a conflict between parliament and government. Especially since 1987, a more assertive attitude of parliament appears to have influenced this development.Acta Politica (2008) 43, 254-277. doi:10.1057/ap.2008.8
The socio-demographic determinants of turnout a 
The effect of age on turnout a 
We explore a number of explanations for the sharp difference in voter turnout between the post-generation X cohort and older citizens, using data from the 2000 Canadian Election Study. The gap in turnout between these groups is more than 27 percentage points. Controlling for socio-demographic factors reduces the age gap by almost a third. If we control for respondents’ perception of the closeness of the race in their riding, whether they were contacted during the campaign and whether they identify with a political party, the age gap decreases by a further three points — a reduction of 43% in the original gap. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find that cynicism and negative attitudes toward politics and politicians are poor explanations for the discrepancy in turnout between young and old. Finally, if we include political information and interest in the model, there is no statistically significant difference in turnout between young and old citizens.Acta Politica (2004) 39, 407–421. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500079
This article uses long-term panel data on three generations of Americans to address several issues concerning the state of social trust and civic engagement and their inter-relationships. Social trust is indicated by the standard index and civic engagement by organizational involvement and volunteerism. We demonstrate that the decline in trust and engagement has been led by Generation X, rather than the Baby Boomers, who compare quite favorably with their predecessors, the highly lauded ‘Long Civic Generation.’ Baby Boomers do, however, have a more sporadic and short-lived record of civic engagement than the preceding generation. Both social trust and, especially, civic engagement are also subject to consequential life cycle effects that may be disguised in cross-sectional designs. The interdependence between social trust and civic engagement is evident as individuals age, though trust is more a cause than a consequence of civic engagement, and the link disappears for voluntary associations based upon exclusive identities.Acta Politica (2004) 39, 342–379. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500077
The nature and effects of trust in social and political institutions have been studied in adults, but few studies have focused on how trust affects the political socialization of children and adolescents, who are in the process of developing their attitudes towards government and other social institutions. Data collected in 1999 from the IEA Civic Education Study of 14-year-olds are used to examine trust at three levels — trust in institutions with which individuals have little or no daily contact (those delegated as representatives in institutions such as the national legislature), trust in institutions with whose representatives individuals interact frequently (schools), and trust in other people. First, levels of these three types of trust are compared in six democracies whose levels of political stability vary (French-speaking Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, England and the United States). Second, correlates of individuals' levels of trust (including school climate and experiences with family) are examined. Third, trust, civic knowledge, school experiences, and family variables are used to predict levels of three types of civic or political engagement (voting, conventional political participation that goes beyond voting, and community participation). Levels of trust relate to the stability of democracy in the countries examined and to participation, suggesting a ‘threshold’ of trustworthiness that a political system needs to establish in order to foster civic and political participation in young people. Additionally, different types of civic engagement are influenced differentially by trust and by other aspects of experience in schools.Acta Politica (2004) 39, 380–406. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500080
Relation between youth (1965) and adult (1982) participation
Structural equation model for adult participation and trust (LISREL). Variables based on Table 2, Models II and IV. Covariances between error terms below 0.30 have been omitted for reasons of clarity. w 2 14.75, df 6, P ¼ 0.02. RMSEA 0.049; standardized RMR 0.025; NFI 0.96, GFI 0.98.
One of the basic assumptions of social capital theory is that social interactions, whether in formal or informal settings, lead to socialization into pro-social value patterns such as generalized trust or reciprocity. This assumption has thus far been tested exclusively with adult populations. As a result, social capital studies tend to ignore a large body of political socialization research indicating that a number of crucial political behaviors and attitudes are already shaped at an early age, and that they continue to be rather stable during the life cycle. In this article, we use the Youth–Parent Socialization panel study (1965–1982) to demonstrate that with regard to generalized trust and participation, distinctive patterns are already in place during adolescence and continue into adulthood. Structural equation modeling produced support both for the attitudinal as for the network mechanism, although the stability with regard to trust was higher than with regard to participation. Our analysis suggests that social capital studies should, in the future, pay more attention to youth research than they have to date.Acta Politica (2004) 39, 422–441. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500081
Dominant parties in 12 African new democracies (% of seats held by largest party in parliament)
Consensus and majoritarian institutions in South Africa
This article examines the applicability of an analytic framework widely used in comparative studies of new and old democracies. In particular, it investigates if and how political institutions in newly established democracies in Africa may be classified along the lines put forward by Arend Lijphart (1999), who distinguishes between majoritarian and consensus democracy. We show that a distinction is evident in the formal institutional sense and that African new democracies differ (somewhat) if classified institutionally as either majoritarian or consensual. However, looking more closely to South Africa as an example of a consensus type of democracy, we also argue that the distribution of power, embedded in both the wider informal practices and the nature of the party system, significantly affects the way this formally consensual democracy works in practice. On this basis, we argue that (a) the consensual appearance of democracy on the basis of formal institutional criteria may be misleading; and (b) that because the party system affects the meaning of the other institutional criteria, the criteria used to distinguish between a majoritarian and consensus democracy should be assigned a relative weight.Acta Politica (2004) 39, 279–296. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500063
Current measures of levels of democratization, such as those by Freedom House, Jaggers and Gurr, or Vanhanen, for example, are often mistaken to be an indication of the ‘quality’ of democracy in a more comprehensive and normatively more demanding sense. The same is true for some of the current criteria and indicators of ‘good governance’. This paper points out some of the limitations and weaknesses of these indicators and shows how, in spite of such limitations, they can be used to provide more coherent and readily available information on the state of affairs and the ‘quality’ of democracy in African countries.Acta Politica (2004) 39, 248–278. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500065
This article seeks explanation for the success and failures of the process of democratization in sub-Saharan Africa. Point of departure is the idea that the distribution of power resources is crucial in this respect. The comparative analysis confirms this idea, both on the global level as for the sub-Saharan countries. The cross-national variation within Africa is discussed on the case-level, which allows to take other explanations like violence and ethnicity into account.Acta Politica (2004) 39, 207–247. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500066
The important role that needs to be played by African elites in implementing developmental initiatives such as the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the African Union (AU) has been widely recognized. This article focuses on the confidence which African elites have in NEPAD and the AU, as well as in the state institutions which are ultimately responsible for the successful implementation of these initiatives. Data is obtained from a study of elite perceptions conducted in 2002 by the Centre for International and Comparative Politics at the University of Stellenbosch in seven African countries. Our analysis shows that there is a significant discrepancy between high levels of elite confidence in the AU and NEPAD and their low levels of confidence in state structures. It is shown that the relatively low confidence levels in the state are directly correlated with low levels of confidence in civil society. If Africa places its hopes on the AU and NEPAD to point it in the direction of political stability and growth, she will have to create a political climate where confidence in the state can grow significantly. In this context, the role which civil society can play in bringing about greater state accountability and thereby increasing state capacity should not be underestimated.Acta Politica (2007) 42, 58-97. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500171
Deliberative democracy has emerged as a leading concern of political theory and its principles have guided over a 1,000 experiments in citizen participation in local governance. Despite its importance, very little systematic empirical research has been conducted. Here an attempt is made to enumerate the key questions that should guide empirical research on the deliberative capacities of ordinary citizens, the qualities of the deliberative processes in which they participate and the effects of deliberation on collective outcomes and on individual participants. The paper closes with a discussion of the likely results of this research and their implications for a possible reconstruction of the theory and practice of deliberative democracy.Acta Politica (2005) 40, 212–224. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500105
An important question about political linkages in any polity is the degree to which actors at various levels in the political hierarchy have similar policy agendas. This paper addresses that topic by utilizing data from a four-county survey of villagers and officials at the village, township, and county level in the Chinese countryside. With two critical exceptions, officials in general perceived greater problem severity than did villagers. Lower ranking officials saw greater and different problem severity than did higher-ranking ones, especially with respect to economic and infrastructure problems, but county locale outweighed rank in importance. In terms of dyadic congruence, villager agendas were most faithfully reflected in their most proximate but least influential officials, the village leaders. Hierarchical rank, local conditions, and physical proximity are thus key elements affecting perceptions of and agreement about local problem agendas.Acta Politica (2003) 38, 313–332. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500042
We take up a longstanding question within the field of European Union (EU) studies: What explains the variation in public support for European integration? There are two dominant explanations: the utilitarian self-interest and the national identity perspectives. The former viewpoint stresses that citizens are more likely to support European integration, if it results in a net benefit to their economy or pocketbook, while the latter perspective argues that identity considerations predominantly influence EU support. Drawing on the concept of double allegiance, we argue that these perspectives should be combined into one single explanatory framework rather than framed as alternatives. Using a multilevel model, we empirically substantiate the claim that interest- and identity-based explanations capture different sides of the same coin, as the more citizens perceive integration to threaten their (economic and social-psychological) security and well-being, the less likely they will support the EU.Acta Politica (2007) 42, 307-328. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500184
Traditional correction methods in survey research are mainly focused on correcting for nonresponse bias. The possible presence of response bias in the data is usually ignored, while past research has given clear indications that response bias as a consequence of stimulus effects and over-reporting caused by answer effects can be a serious problem, especially in election research. In this paper, an integrated method for correcting for bias is developed, in which stimulus effects, over-reporting as a result of answer effects and nonresponse bias are dealt with separately. The results of this integrated correction method are compared with the results obtained by traditional nonresponse weighting, using the 1998 Dutch National Election Study data. Finally, it is suggested how the quality of election study data can be improved and how the correction methods can be optimized.Acta Politica (2005) 40, 94–116. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500086
How can we understand the confrontation with fear in works of political philosophy? Plato wrote ironically, but also took profound risks in his writing, labeling contemporaneous statesmen as squabbling fools. Hobbes deftly skirted the line past which one was declared an atheist or a heretic. Both thinkers knew fear and, at least at certain times, confronted it openly. Leo Strauss, however, gives us a different story, arguing that the political philosopher will encrypt his or her true thinking under an exoteric façade. What is the consequence of Strauss' confrontation with fear? In this essay I argue that Strauss reveals the existence of secrets without revealing the content of those secrets. He creates rules of secrecy for philosophic writing, and then, by revealing them, Strauss bothers those rules. This is, for Lacan, the essence of perversion.
Marginal effect left-right distance on ptvs anti-immigration parties as duration and opposition influence change. The line with the gentle slope denotes the marginal effect concerning anti-immigration parties that are represented in parliament where opposition influence is strong, the one with the steep slope denotes the marginal effect for other anti-immigration parties. *indicates significance at the 95 per cent level (upper and lower bounds indistinguishable in figure).
The 11 anti-immigration parties and the responses by their largest mainstream competitors
Descriptive statistics of the dependent and independent variables
Projected loss or gain anti-immigration parties if ostracized
Figure A1: Structure of the data matrix. 
In various European countries established parties have responded quite differently to the recent rise of anti-immigration parties. In Italy and Austria these parties entered governing coalitions. In France and Belgium the established parties agreed never to collaborate in any way with anti-immigration parties. In this paper we aim to assess whether this strategy of exclusion affects the electoral support for anti-immigration parties. To answer the research questions, we link expert survey data to individual-level survey data and perform analyses across 11 parties and across 4 time points. We find that the effect of exclusion depends on the institutional context, in particular the threshold for entering parliament, and the influence of parliamentary opposition parties on policy-making. According to our estimates the former Flemish Bloc benefited from being excluded and the Northern League in Italy would have benefited if it had been excluded. The Danish Progress Party, on the other hand, would have been hurt if it had been excluded. The other parties in our analyses are hardly affected. To the extent that the exclusion of anti-immigration parties is meant to change electoral outcomes in favour of the established parties, its success is thus quite mixed.
Lebanon's history of democratic establishment, collapse and resuscitation represents an excellent laboratory to assess the theory of Consociational Democracy. This article elaborates four main approaches — Elitist, Institutional, Developmental and International — that emerged in the literature concerning Lebanon since the mid-1960s. It is aimed to demonstrate their complete interdependence in contributing to Consociational Democracy theory, despite the fact that each of these approaches purposes to give unique explanation of the Lebanese political system. Thus, the explanatory variables — elites, institutions, modernization and international environment — of Lebanon's cycles of reforms and collapses are empirically analyzed in view of the authors who proposed them. Finally, the approaches will be recomposed to enrich the debate on theoretical and prescriptive contributions of power sharing in Lebanon.Acta Politica (2008) 43, 453-471. doi:10.1057/ap.2008.15
To illustrate how arguing actually works and how it matters we draw on a number of empirical studies that have been undertaken within a larger project on ‘Arguing and Bargaining in Multilateral Negotiations’. We discuss conditions under which arguing leads to changes in actors' persuasions and, thus, influences the process and outcomes of negotiations. These conditions refer to the institutional and normative features of the social context in which negotiations take place and characteristics of speakers and specific framing strategies they use to make arguments resonate with existing causal or normative beliefs.Acta Politica (2005) 40, 351–367. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500117
This paper discusses the role of argument-based, systematic voting in direct-democratic Swiss votes. It presents evidence that Swiss voters are less minimalist than generally expected. In addition, the results of the analysis show that argument-based voting is above all reinforced by two key context characteristics — intense campaigns preceding the vote and familiar projects. Intense campaigns increase argument-based voting above all on the side of the government's opponents and familiar projects tend to do so on both sides. The strong effects of these context characteristics on argument-based voting suggest that the quality of the deliberation of individual voters crucially depends on the quality of the arguments exchanged among the members of the political elites in the course of the debate preceding the vote.Acta Politica (2005) 40, 299–316. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500114
In this research note it is attempted to measure the extent to which polyarchic democracies vary cross-nationally. This analysis is performed in order to show that there is considerable variation across these polities in terms of performance. The differences found point to the existence of ‘defected’ democracies. These can be observed across the whole world. In the remainder of this research note, an institutional explanation is put forward and to the test. It appears that electoral features, the state format and the organization of the executive are important for distinguishing between ‘good practices’, on the one hand, and ‘defective’ developments, on the other.
The broad theme is the relationship between the EU accession process up to 2004 and democratic consolidation in Central & Eastern Europe. The particular focus is on the EU's political conditions for candidate countries and their systemic impacts on the new democracies of CEE. This theme is explored applying theoretical and comparative lessons from the democratization literature. The EU's political impacts are examined by identifying cross-national trends of progress towards democratic consolidation, noting the scope for and limitations of the EU's political conditionality and looking at national government responses as well as the role of other domestic actors in accession states. In the end, conditionality did contribute towards consolidation but mainly in terms of the institutionalization of these new democracies without much evidence of deeper effects. Also, there are negative aspects of EU accession with its top-down procedures and emphasis on bureaucratic efficiency more than domestic participation.Acta Politica (2006) 41, 342-369. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500165
In the literature on international governance it is often claimed that deliberation can enhance the rationality and legitimacy of political rule-making beyond the nation state. It is unclear, however, under what conditions such deliberative processes contribute to the emergence of transnational democracy, understood as self-government on a global scale. We address this question and propose a set of criteria that can be used to assess the democratic quality of decision making through empirical research.Acta Politica (2005) 40, 368–383. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500118
Liberal nationalists contend that moderate cultural nationalism promulgates liberal practices, while constitutional patriots stress its illiberal consequences, arguing that attachment to political democratic norms is more inclusive than cultural attachment. Although this issue has been the subject of extensive normative debate, it has rarely been studied empirically. This article addresses the question: How are political and cultural patriotism related to people's perceptions of national membership? To this end, it distinguishes between `political patriotism', which reflects the principles of constitutional patriotism, and `cultural patriotism' as an expression of liberal nationalism. Employing survey data from 15 Western democracies, the study explores the structure of these components of national identity, their empirical distinctiveness and their cross-country comparability. The way(s) in which cultural and political patriotism are related to people's conceptions of the nation is examined by models that analyze their relationship to the criteria of national membership. The results reveal that, virtually ubiquitously, cultural patriotism is positively correlated to ethnic, cultural and political criteria of membership, whereas political patriotism is principally correlated solely to political criteria. To a certain degree, these findings support the assertions made by constitutional patriotism on the one hand and disprove those linked to liberal nationalism on the other.
This paper is an attempt to compile the most important findings from quantitative and empirical work on violence in order to derive policy conclusions from it. It is argued that the risk of war can either be reduced by preponderance or by trade and democratization. Likewise, the risk of rebellion and civil war can be reduced either by bloody and totalitarian repression, that is, by violence from above, or by democracy, which itself is promoted by prosperity and economic openness. Although research on the linkages between internal and external violence does not deliver a neat set of coherent findings, it seems that both kinds of violence are more likely to reinforce than to mitigate each other. International terrorism seems to stand apart from other types of violence in its causes and effects. But a capitalist peace strategy based on economic freedom and globalization, prosperity and democracy might not only permit reducing interstate war and rebellion, but also contribute to some containment of terrorism, that is, a capitalist peace strategy may prevent a spill-over from international terrorism to interstate war and, to a lesser degree, even to rebellion and civil violence.Acta Politica (2004) 39, 152–178. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500059
Representation is one essential dimension of executive governance. This article has a dual ambition: The first is to outline an institutional perspective on representation that may explore and explain the everyday balancing act of representation among government officials. The second ambition is to empirically illuminate dynamics of representation among crucial test-bed inside the European Commission, that of temporary officials. Temporary Commission officials offer a valuable laboratory for exploring the fine balancing act of representation. Based on survey and interview data on temporary Commission officials, this study supports an institutional perspective on representation in two ways. First, temporary Commission officials tend to evoke a tripartite representational repertoire consisting of departmental, epistemic and supranational roles. Second, the composite mix of representational roles evoked by these officials is biased by the organisational boundaries and hierarchies embedding them. Representation within the Commission is a balancing act that is considerably biased by (i) the formal organisation of the Commission, (ii) the multiple organisational embeddedness of the staff, (iii) their degrees of organisational affiliation towards the Commission, (iv) their modes of interaction within the Commission, as well as (v) their educational backgrounds.Acta Politica (2008) 43, 429-452. doi:10.1057/ap.2008.2
The layout of the ballot affects voting behaviour. Candidates in ‘critical’ (top and bottom) positions in multi-column ballots obtain a larger percentage of the vote in multi-column ballots than in a single-column ballot. In the present paper, we analyse whether the socio-economic characteristics of the electorate affect the prominence of such Ballot Layout Effects. We analyse preferential votes obtained by 897 candidates in the 1995 Regional Elections in Brussels. We find that the cognitive sophistication of the electorate, as proxied by its education level, reduces the strength of the observed Ballot Layout Effects.Acta Politica (2003) 38, 295–311. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500040
This paper defends the claim that justice applies, and only applies, to people's legally constrained choices. To the extent that a theory of justice applies to, makes requirements to, legally unconstrained choices, the theory is unstable. Prima facie this is a rather restrictive position in the recent debate in Anglo-American political philosophy regarding the appropriate scope of justice — what is it precisely that justice applies to, that is, to what and/or whom does it make requirements? The view does not, however, in fact constitute a narrow scope of justice. If justice is of over-riding importance, and if its stability requires coercion, then it is unclear that any choices of relevance to justice (any acts that have implications for the distribution of benefits and burdens in society) should in fact be left legally unconstrained. So circumscribing justice to coercive institutions does indeed address the choices of relevance to justice, and does so in a determined (and perhaps, at least from a perspective external to justice, unsettling) way.Acta Politica (2003) 38, 125–145. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500027
Despite the proliferation of studies exploring the success of the populist radical right, there is a lack of research on why these parties decline or fail. And when this question is addressed, the literature focuses on supply-side variables such as leadership battles or a lack of organizational structure. These explanations largely fall short, however, in understanding the strange decline of the Belgian Vlaams Belang at the latest elections. Instead, it is argued that there is less space available for the populist radical right. Survey data suggests that two competing parties succeeded in exploiting issues that were previously owned exclusively by the Vlaams Belang (VB). More surprising, however, is the impact of the cordon sanitaire on the decline of the VB. This study shows that although populist radical right parties might not perform well in government, they will face difficulties too if they stay in permanent opposition, because they become perceived as irrelevant in the long run.
In this paper we argue that the meaning of family politicization for recruitment in contemporary democratic politics has changed, and can now be reinterpreted in a modern and postmodern way. Starting from Norris' recruitment model, we scrutinize potential supply (learning and calculation) and demand (screening and selection) side factors that may contribute to an explanation of the permanent disproportional representation of political family members in current politics, witnessing important electoral (volatility, personalization and mediatization) and partisan (cadre parties) shifts. With recruitment data from a survey among Belgian mayors we construct a `Political Family Index' containing a number of variables assessing potential attitudes (interest, preference) and political behaviour (party membership, holding political office) of father and/or mother of those mayors. We found that mayors coming from highly politicized families start their political career at a younger age and are successful earlier. They do not, however, follow an entirely different route to power.Acta Politica (2009) 44, 125-149. doi:10.1057/ap.2008.20
This paper explores the conception of citizenship as it was conceived and developed in the context of the new political culture, which was one of the Belgian ‘solutions’ to the democratic crisis widely commented on in the 1990s. Although it takes as its starting point the Citizen's Manifestos of Guy Verhofstadt, now Prime Minister of Belgium, it does not offer a detailed analysis of these texts. Instead, it adopts a more theoretical focus which, with reference to the literature on multiculturalism, considers the question whether a contemporary (liberal) definition of citizenship accommodates a positive relation between identity and agency. Warning against pleas for political renewal that do not take into account the problematic relation between the languages of politics and culture, it hopes to encourage more deliberation on the function of diversity in particular and on the democratic process in general.Acta Politica (2004) 39, 59–78. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500056
Governments routinely create new organizations to deal with emerging or persistent problems. It is a real challenge for these `upstarts' to build a robust organization that is considered legitimate by political stakeholders. The challenge is twofold: the new organization has to create the capacity to effectively and efficiently perform its formal mission and it is has to do so without alienating patrons and clients. The upstart thus has to balance external and internal integrity. The public administration and political science literature tends to prioritize the former (responsiveness) over the latter, suggesting that too strong a focus on the organization's structure and culture may violate the tenets of a healthy democracy. In this article, we reconsider this piece of conventional wisdom. We argue that it may be quite healthy — both for the organization and its environment — if the upstart develops some `recalcitrant' features.Acta Politica (2007) 42, 40-57. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500168
This article investigates the political–cultural integration of ethnic minorities in the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom. We propose to build on the recent social movement literature that stresses institutional and discursive opportunities and constraints that challenger groups face in attempting to realize social change. The opportunity structure with regard to the political–cultural integration of ethnic minorities is determined by the definitions of national identity and citizenship in the countries under investigation. After a detailed description of both the individual (i.e. access to individual citizenship rights) and collective (i.e. group rights and obligations tied to the national concept of citizenship) dimensions of citizenship in each of the three countries, we conclude that the Dutch and British integration regimes can best be defined as individually civic and collectively pluralist while the German regime most resembles the individually ethnic and collectively monist model. We then proceed to establish the effect of this difference on the political claims by ethnic minorities by employing the method of political claims analysis. Our findings support the expectations that the Dutch and British models of citizenship render ethnic minorities' political claims more publicly visible, moderate their action repertoire and stimulate a focus on the politics of the country of settlement more than the German model. Furthermore, the identity of the claimants reflects the integration policies in all three countries. However, further investigation into the different nature of multicultural policies in the Netherlands and Britain suggests that there is a limit to the beneficial effects of cultural pluralism.Acta Politica (2005) 40, 50–73. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500096
Social science instruments are scrutinized in terms of what they can reveal about dispositions and competences of citizens relevant to deliberative democracy. Instruments are often heavy on culture and light on theory; for example, opinion surveys embody a culture hostile to deliberative democracy. Instruments allowing unconstrained interpretations of subjects yield results that have to be taken on trust by the audience of research; this can be a problem with depth interviewing and focus groups. Results can also be constrained through operations performed by the subject outside the researcher's direct control, as in Q methodology. Combinations of instruments can sometimes correct for their individual weaknesses, but sometimes can compound them.Acta Politica (2005) 40, 197–211. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500099
To explain the impact of the ‘new politics’ of Fortuyn and his party LPF on Dutch politics, we have analysed the election programmes 1998 and 2002. The positions of parties are measured by the confrontational approach. Dutch politics in 1998 was a depoliticized democracy, which we have modelled by a three-dimensional ideological triangle. This triangle is based on the division between the three main ideologies of the three-party families, the socialists, the liberals and the Christians. Fortuyn dominated the political agenda of the election of 2002 with his criticism on the purple coalition. His ‘new politics’ was focused on economic and multicultural issues. We have used these issues for the construction of a two-dimensional space of competition 2002. The model of 2002 helps to explain the ideological positions of the parties and the advent of a centrifugal democracy.Acta Politica (2003) 38, 23–49. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500002
The recent success of radical right-wing parties in Western democracies is quite amazing, given their unimpressive history in the post-war period. These new parties are sometimes referred to as ‘populist’ parties. It is not surprising then that this wave of populist politics has incited a renewed academic interest in populism as an empirical phenomenon and in populism as a concept. I will first look at the definitions of populism, as there is no consensus among the authors under review what parties are to be labelled populist. It is, for instance, not evident that the Dutch LPF is a populist party. Then I will discuss the explanations provided for the success of the new parties in Western democracies. I will argue that the focus is generally too confined to strictly social–economic and political factors. The role of the media and particularly of entrepreneurship should be taken into account in order to explain the success of populist parties. Finally, I will address the pros and cons of populism as an ideology. I will probe the arguments that populism is a challenge to democracy and conclude that the authors under review are too soft on populism.Acta Politica (2003) 38, 147–159. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500021
The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that the civic republican approach to corruption helps us understand the complexity of the problem of corruption during the process of post-communist democratization. Such an approach brings to the fore the correlation between the institutional and the social dimensions of corruption, and offers a broader perspective on understanding both sources and consequences of corruptive activities and corrupt manners than the dominant liberal, political-economic approach. The paper discusses the differences between these two approaches to corruption, as well as between the republican approach and the literature on social trust, while engaging with a theoretical analysis of corruption in former communist countries.Acta Politica (2006) 41, 370-388. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500137
This article studies the mechanisms of socialization and re-socialization among national civil servants embedded in EU institutions. Applying a cognitive organizational theory approach, it is argued that national civil servants attending EU committees supplement pre-existing role perceptions with supranational roles under particular conditions. EU committees are seen as transformative institutions that accompany a partial re-socialization of the committee participants. The empirical data demonstrate that domestic civil servants become re-socialized due to their intensity of participation on EU committees. Based on survey and interview data on Danish and Swedish government officials who attend Council working parties (CWPs), the analysis reveals that the intensity of attendance on CWPs accompanies the enactment of supranational roles among the participants. Contrary to neo-functionalist assumptions, however, the length of participation on CWPs does not contribute to re-socialize the committee participants. The empirical analysis also demonstrates that supranational roles are indeed secondary to pre-existing national and sectoral roles. Hence, contrary to neo-functionalist arguments, the emergence of supranational roles does not replace pre-established roles.Acta Politica (2004) 39, 4–30. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500045
Since the late 1990s, many students of democratization have emphasized that a salient empirical gap is emerging between electoral and liberal democracy. In this article, I reappraise the gap by revisiting Larry Diamond's important contribution from Developing Democracy. Emphasizing both the electoral and the liberal component of democracy, with assistance from classical and modern authors, the article arrives at a clear conclusion. The gap between electoral and liberal democracy only increased very modestly in the 1990s and it has decreased sharply in the 2000s. These results differ from the conventional wisdom for a very simple reason: because I systematically treat the two components of liberal democracy as different attributes, conceptually independent of each other, I do identify a gap that is based on a difference in degree, not in kind.Acta Politica (2007) 42, 380-400. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500178
The Italian party system has recently been characterized by the formation and splits of pre-electoral coalitions. Different broad pre-electoral coalitions, which were set up in the scope of the 2006 national elections, disintegrated for the 2008 electoral campaign. This explorative study looks at the policy position of the main party coalitions regarding state involvement and social issues in the 2006 election campaign and their respective partners in the 2008 campaign. As such, we investigate where different parties that belonged to the same coalition in the previous election locate themselves after disintegration with respect to state involvement in economy and social policy dimensions. Using the computerized method Wordscores, we find mixed results with major coalition parties staying closest to the coalition's position on one issue but moving away from the coalition's position on the other issue. Minor leftist parties clearly look for a niche position after disintegration, whereas different patterns may be observed among the rightist minor parties.
The special characteristics of parliamentary systems and coalition politics play an important role in the German foreign policy decision-making process. Power in the current German government is shared between a larger, senior party (the Social Democrats) and a smaller, junior party (the Greens/Alliance ’90). Throughout the history of democratic Germany, small parties like the Greens have exerted significant influence on German foreign policy, partly through the control of the German Foreign Ministry. This paper assesses the conditions of influence of the Greens, a left-of-center party in the current government (1998-present), compares this to the influence of the Free Democrats, a smaller centrist party, in coalition with the Christian Democrats (1982–1998), and analyzes how these conditions of influence came into play in the German position in the international debate over Iraq in 2002–2003. We argue that the ideological position and the internal disunity of the junior party were critical in this case, although in counter-intuitive ways. This study raises important questions about some of the neo-realist, cultural, and public opinion interpretations of contemporary German foreign policy.Acta Politica (2003) 38, 201–230. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500031
Following the recent explosion of new democracies, there has been a wave of constitution-building and electoral reform. The choice of the electoral system has been topic of debate among elites of the new democracies, knowing that this choice is an important one with different consequences. The effects of majoritarian and proportional electoral systems have been broadly investigated in the literature. Until recently, however, mixed electoral systems have attracted minimal academic attention. Although a growing number of new democracies have introduced hybrid types of electoral systems, which are neither proportional nor majoritarian, there are hardly any studies on the effects of these mixed electoral systems. This study explores not only the effects of majoritarian and proportional systems, but also the consequences of the mixed systems as compared to the two other systems. Not only 32 established democracies, but also 55 ‘new’ democracies are included in the multivariate regression analyses. Different measurements of the dependent variable (democratic quality) are taken into account, and some important control variables (especially human development) are incorporated in the analyses. It appears that it is important to differentiate between different types of electoral systems. The results show that such a distinction is crucial, since one particular type of mixed systems is associated with lower levels of democratic quality than the other types of electoral systems. In fact, they seem to combine the worst effects of both proportional and majoritarian systems.Acta Politica (2005) 40, 28–49. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500093
The article is concerned with the question whether it is context or conflict type that determines the selection of arguing or bargaining. A speech act analysis of two German cases of communicative resolution of conflict, a mediation on a waste management conflict and a parliamentary debate on embryonic stem cells, shows that conflict type is an important factor for the selection of the mode of communication. However, it is not the only one. Institutional context also plays a role.Acta Politica (2005) 40, 239–254. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500100
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