Reforming the European Union: Realizing the Impossible

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For decades the European Union tried changing its institutions, but achieved only unsatisfying political compromises and modest, incremental treaty revisions. In late 2009, however, the EU was successfully reformed through the Treaty of Lisbon. Reforming the European Union examines how political leaders ratified this treaty against all odds and shows how this victory involved all stages of treaty reform negotiations--from the initial proposal to referendums in several European countries.

The authors emphasize the strategic role of political leadership and domestic politics, and they use state-of-the-art methodology, applying a comprehensive data set for actors' reform preferences. They look at how political leaders reacted to apparent failures of the process by recreating or changing the rules of the game. While domestic actors played a significant role in the process, their influence over the outcome was limited as leaders ignored negative referendums and plowed ahead with intended reforms. The book's empirical analyses shed light on critical episodes: strategic agenda setting during the European Convention, the choice of ratification instrument, intergovernmental bargaining dynamics, and the reaction of the German Council presidency to the negative referendums in France, the Netherlands, and Ireland.

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About the author

Daniel Finke is assistant professor of political science at the University of Heidelberg. Thomas König is professor of political science and director of the Research Centre for the Political Economy of Reforms at the University of Mannheim. Sven-Oliver Proksch is a research fellow at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research. George Tsebelis is the Anatol Rapoport Collegiate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jul 29, 2012
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Pages
248
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ISBN
9781400842506
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / General
History / Modern / 21st Century
Political Science / International Relations / Diplomacy
Political Science / International Relations / General
Political Science / Political Process / Leadership
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Political scientists have long classified systems of government as parliamentary or presidential, two-party or multiparty, and so on. But such distinctions often fail to provide useful insights. For example, how are we to compare the United States, a presidential bicameral regime with two weak parties, to Denmark, a parliamentary unicameral regime with many strong parties? Veto Players advances an important, new understanding of how governments are structured. The real distinctions between political systems, contends George Tsebelis, are to be found in the extent to which they afford political actors veto power over policy choices. Drawing richly on game theory, he develops a scheme by which governments can thus be classified. He shows why an increase in the number of "veto players," or an increase in their ideological distance from each other, increases policy stability, impeding significant departures from the status quo.

Policy stability affects a series of other key characteristics of polities, argues the author. For example, it leads to high judicial and bureaucratic independence, as well as high government instability (in parliamentary systems). The propositions derived from the theoretical framework Tsebelis develops in the first part of the book are tested in the second part with various data sets from advanced industrialized countries, as well as analysis of legislation in the European Union. Representing the first consistent and consequential theory of comparative politics, Veto Players will be welcomed by students and scholars as a defining text of the discipline.



From the preface to the Italian edition:
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"Tsebelis has produced what is today the most original theory for the understanding of the dynamics of contemporary regimes. . . . This book promises to remain a lasting contribution to political analysis."--Gianfranco Pasquino, Professor of Political Science, University of Bologna

In this volume, twelve experts on Latin American politics investigate the ways in which the interaction between legislative institutions and the policy positions of key actors affects the initiation and passage of legislation, covering seven Latin American Countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. These seven presidential systems vary widely in terms of their legislative institutions and the position of relevant actors. The introduction provides a framework to understand the interaction of legislative majorities, political institutions, and policy position, and each chapter begins with a description of the constitutional and congressional rules that allocate powers to propose, amend, and veto legislation. The authors then identify the political actors who have these prerogatives and apply the framework to show how their policy positions and relative strengths influence legislative decision-making. The findings are consistent with the basic argument of the book that presidents with extensive legislative powers may be constrained by the positions of their legislative allies, whereas weaker presidents may be well-positioned to build successful coalitions to achieve their legislative goals. The essays in this volume demonstrate that institutional design, which determines the allocation of legislative powers, must be considered along with the policy preferences of key legislative actors in order to construct a full picture of law-making. Oxford Studies in Democratization is a series for scholars and students of comparative politics and related disciplines. Volumes concentrate on the comparative study of the democratization process that accompanied the decline and termination of the cold war. The geographical focus of the series is primarily Latin America, the Caribbean, Southern and Eastern Europe, and relevant experiences in Africa and Asia. The series editor is Laurence Whitehead, Senior Research Fellow, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
Political scientists have long classified systems of government as parliamentary or presidential, two-party or multiparty, and so on. But such distinctions often fail to provide useful insights. For example, how are we to compare the United States, a presidential bicameral regime with two weak parties, to Denmark, a parliamentary unicameral regime with many strong parties? Veto Players advances an important, new understanding of how governments are structured. The real distinctions between political systems, contends George Tsebelis, are to be found in the extent to which they afford political actors veto power over policy choices. Drawing richly on game theory, he develops a scheme by which governments can thus be classified. He shows why an increase in the number of "veto players," or an increase in their ideological distance from each other, increases policy stability, impeding significant departures from the status quo.

Policy stability affects a series of other key characteristics of polities, argues the author. For example, it leads to high judicial and bureaucratic independence, as well as high government instability (in parliamentary systems). The propositions derived from the theoretical framework Tsebelis develops in the first part of the book are tested in the second part with various data sets from advanced industrialized countries, as well as analysis of legislation in the European Union. Representing the first consistent and consequential theory of comparative politics, Veto Players will be welcomed by students and scholars as a defining text of the discipline.



From the preface to the Italian edition:
?



"Tsebelis has produced what is today the most original theory for the understanding of the dynamics of contemporary regimes. . . . This book promises to remain a lasting contribution to political analysis."--Gianfranco Pasquino, Professor of Political Science, University of Bologna

In ten years 80 per cent of the legislation related to economics, maybe also to taxes and social aff airs, will be of Community origin.” This declaration has been largely quoted, paraphrased and deformed by different authors, creating a persistent myth according to which 80% of the legislative activity of the national legislatures would soon be reduced to the simple transposition of European norms”. This book addresses the topic of the scope and impact of Europeanization on national legislation, as a part of the Europeanization debate which raises normative concerns linked to the “democratic deficit” debate. The state of the art shows that there are many assumptions and claims on how European integration may affect national legislation and, more generally, domestic governance but that there is a lack of solid and comparative data to test them. The aim of the book is to give a solid and comparative insight into Europeanization focusing on effective outcomes in a systematic way. This book analyzes the period 1986-2008 and includes an introduction, a global overview of European legislative activities which set the background for Europeanization of national legislatures, 9 country contributions (8 EU member states + Switzerland) including systematic, comparative and standardized data, tables and figures, and a conclusion with a comparative analysis of the European and domestic reasons for Europeanization.All national contributions conclude that Europeanization of national legislation is much more limited than assumed in the literature and public debate. It is limited to 10 to 30% of laws (depending on the country), far less than the 80% predicted by Jacques Delors and mentioned daily by medias and public opinion leaders to demonstrate EU domination on member states. Beside that general statement, the various chapters propose a deep insight on EU constraint over national legislation, providing much information on the kind of laws and policies that are Europeanized, the evolution of this process through time, the impact of Europeanization on the balance of powers and the relations between majority and opposition at national level, the strategies developed by national institutions in that context, and many other issues, making the book of interest to academics and policy-makers concerned with Europeanization and national legislation.

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