The Obstacles to Party Government

  • Richard Rose


Office-holding is a necessary but not a sufficient condition of governing. Men who hold office may sit on the seats of power but add nothing to the making of government policy. It is contingent rather than certain that the decisions of officeholders meet the requirements of party government. Governors may endorse a policy because it is identified as the only sensible course to follow by those to whom it looks for assistance within the civil service, or they may endorse a policy that is detested because external pressures (e.g., a foreign run on the pound) compel action when every alternative is unpalatable. Party government exists only in so far as the actions of office-holders are influenced by values and policies derived from the institutions of party. Where the life of party politics does not affect government policy, the accession of a new party to office is little more significant than the accession of a new monarch; the party reigns but does not rule.


Civil Servant Party Leader Labour Government British Government Labour Party 
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Copyright information

© Richard Rose 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Rose
    • 1
  1. 1.University of StrathclydeUK

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