Parliamentary government is generally taken to mean party government. Party cohesion and discipline are usually seen as central to the maintenance of parliamentary democracy. This overlap, between disciplined parties on the one hand and parliamentary government on the other, is often seen as so complete and so automatic that the question of party discipline is pushed to the sidelines and rarely studied. Yet, if individual legislators remain an undisciplined mob, parliaments could easily become unruly and anarchical.
How and why party discipline arises and is maintained are thus central questions of importance in legislative, and especially parliamentary, studies. Our knowledge of these topics, however, suffers from substantial gaps, especially with regard to the practice of party cohesion outside the relatively familiar Anglo-American setting.
This book marks a step toward filling some of those gaps. The collection of essays presented here provides theoretical background and comparative studies of legislatures in a wide range of settings. Well-developed democracies such as Britain, Finland, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland are covered, as are the more recent democracies of Spain and Hungary, and the unique case of the transnational European Parliament.
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