Political Elites in the West

  • John Higley


By the West, I mean the countries of Europe that were coextensive historically with Western Christendom and its offshoots in North America and Australasia. I treat the contemporary West as consisting of the European Union countries, together with the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Although Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland are not formal members of the European Union, they are clearly part of the contemporary West. Nearly all of these 35 countries have reasonably stable political systems over which consensually united political elites, practicing a generally restrained politics, preside. Yet, in the bulk of Western countries during most of their modern histories, political elites were deeply disunited, with warring factions seeking political supremacy at virtually any cost. I examine changes in political elite behavior since World War II and challenges to their consensus and unity between now and this century’s mid-point.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Higley
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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