In most European countries, Prime ministers are the major figure of the political game. They have a wide interface, with the media (both at a national and international level), and with their population, even if they are never called the “head of states”. Many political scientists have asserted in recent years that the position has been turning into a ‘presidential' type of power. The term presidentialization itself is defined very differently in political literature. It can be seen as a “personalised leadership style”, or as the concentration of powers . Two main aspects have to be taken into account to define a presidential type of power: intra electoral components, such as the role of the Prime minister within his government and his relations toward the Parliament, or his international image; and electoral rules. To determine the causes of this phenomenon and its limits, I have chosen three countries: The United Kingdom, Italy and France.
[...] French Prime ministers are also for few years more and more present in EU meetings, with or instead of the President. As personalisation, which is part of the process, presidentialization is also a matter of person. The personal power of a Prime Minister partly depends on his character. Some head of governments, such as the Italian Prime Minister have weak constitutional powers, but can acquire the resources to get more powers, as Berlusconi did, as well as adopting a presidential He succeeded for example in changing the law about media control against the President will. [...]
[...] “Political actors [are] invariably more aware of the constraints they face rather than the resources they enjoy.” Despite the control they exercise over policy making, they still have to cope with certain obligations as well as with political and electoral demands. Bibliography Gallagher Michael, Laver, Michael and Mair, Peter executive” in Representative government in Modern Europe. New-York, Mac Graw-Hill. Helms, Ludger Presidents, Prime ministers and Chancellors: executive leadership in western democracies. New-York, Macmillan. O'Malley, Eoin. “Setting choices, controlling outcomes: the operation of prime ministerial influence and the UK's decision to invade Iraq.” In British journal of politics and International relations, Volume Number December 2005. [...]
[...] If the President has to cope with an opposition majority in Parliament and an opposition government, his powers are greatly weakened, and the Prime Minister enjoys a very favourable position. He has the legitimacy of the most recent vote, and therefore, can adopt reforms against the will of the President of the Republic. The distribution of powers between the President and his Prime Minister is not clearly defined in the Constitution, but “appears to be the product of a complex interaction between formal constitutional provisions and practical party politics.” During the last cohabitation for example, President Chirac couldn't oppose the reform about the weekly working time, even if at first, he refused to sign the bill. [...]
[...] “Setting choices, controlling outcomes: the operation of prime ministerial influence and the UK's decision to invade Iraq.” In British journal of politics and International relations, Volume Number December 2005. Heffernan, Richard. “Presidentialization in the UK. Prime ministerial power and parliamentary democracy.” European consortium for political research, Copenhagen 2001. Workshop: Presidentialization of parliamentary democracies? http://www.essex.ac.uk/ecpr/events/jointsessions/paperarchive/copenhagen/ws7 /heffernan.PDF Venturino, Fulvio. presidentialization of Italian politics: The political consequences of the 1994 electoral reform.” European consortium for political research, Copenhagen 2001. Workshop: Presidentialization of parliamentary democracies? [...]
[...] First of all, in the United Kingdom and Italy, the heads of state are not elected by the people. They still have legitimacy, but the Italian President and the Queen of England are not per se representative of their people. The Prime minister on the contrary is directly elected by the people. According to Fulvio Venturino, a Prime minister acquires a presidential role when choice of the expected Prime Minister constitutes a powerful motivation to cast a ballot in favour of his supporting party.” Obviously, this is not the case in France, where you vote directly for the President. [...]
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