Introduction: Western European Cabinets in Comparative Perspective
For the first time in their history, Western European countries have been ruled during a substantial period by similar types of government. These governments are not only similar in that they are based on general liberal democratic principles which are broadly accepted by the whole population. They are also similar in that they embody institutional arrangements which give to these liberal democracies similar decision-making frameworks. Authoritarian regimes have disappeared from Western Europe since the mid-1970s and, for the majority of countries, since the 1940s. Moreover, with the exception of Switzerland, all Western European governments have adopted the formula of parliamentary and cabinet rule. After what might be described as a century of soul-searching often marred by internal turmoil and external wars, Western European countries have finally followed the lead which Britain (and Sweden) gave in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: they are all led by working cabinet governments.
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