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A critical election?
Sarah Birch

This chapter steps back from the chaos of recent British electoral politics to locate the 2019 general election in a wider comparative context. It shows how many of the economic, social and political changes that led to Brexit were by no means exceptional. Deindustrialisation, ageing populations, the underemployment of young people, the rising cost of housing and climate change have affected a wide range of societies. New conflicts have placed strains on existing party systems, and parties across the globe have adapted with varying degrees of success. Nevertheless, the UK’s unique constitutional arrangements and party system continue to make its electoral politics so distinctive. The chapter ends by considering the particular risk of democratic backsliding in a system that has weak checks and balances.

in Breaking the deadlock
Nikki Ikani

After discussing its foundations in historical institutionalism, this chapter sets out each building block of the framework. It explains ‘critical junctures’ and how they open up political space for foreign policy change. It explains how institutions shape the process, through providing the setting for the decision-making process, and by determining the ‘key actors’ and their power to pursue change. Key actors may reframe the debate, generate new ideas, shed new perspectives on policy issues and attempt to rally support for their perception and policy change. Institutions and the ‘temporal context’ impact on the process of deciding to change policy following a critical juncture. The chapter explains how to measure the change that follows this process. It proposes to assess EU foreign policy change through mapping the level, substance and the ‘directionality’ of change and ends by discussing research design, historical process tracing and evidence.

in Crisis and change in European Union foreign policy
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Pursuing a multipolar mirage?
Luis L. Schenoni

This chapter explores the use of the concept of multipolarity in the Brazilian foreign policy debate, with an emphasis on the period associated with Brazil’s rise to great power status from 2000 onwards. It analyses documents from Brazilian governmental agencies in order to reconstruct how polarity was thought of and what impact this had on actual policy. It also draws on a series of in-depth interviews conducted in June 2017 with academics and Brazilian public officials to help unravel their understanding of the term and the interests of different actors. This is complemented by a review of the public speeches of politicians and diplomats in forums such as the Brazilian Congress and the United Nations General Assembly as well as academic articles that discuss the role of Brazil in a scenario of multipolarity, published in the two major Brazilian IR journals and a number of non-Brazilian IR journals. The chapter argues that the concept of the global order becoming increasingly multipolar – and Brazil playing a key role in the process and outcome – has been emotionally potent and ‘sticky’ over this time period, despite clear empirical evidence to the contrary. After providing a map of the interests involved and a raw measure of conceptual stretching, the chapter outlines a typology of typical ways that the concept has been moulded to suit various causes within Brazil. In addition, it identifies common themes across actors and uncovers the implicit theoretical framework they use to reinterpret the concept.

in National perspectives on a multipolar order
Britain at the polls, 2019

This book, the latest in the long-running Britain at the Polls series, tells the story of the remarkable 2019 general election and its outcome. As with previous volumes, the book provides general readers, students of British politics and professional political scientists with analyses of key political, economic and social developments, and an assessment of their impact on the election outcome. The book begins with an account of the 2017 Conservative minority government and how parliamentary deadlock thwarted Theresa May’s attempts to deliver on the 2016 Brexit referendum. It then analyses recent developments in the Conservative and Labour parties, as well as longer-term changes in the party system and voters’ values and identities, and how these laid foundations for the election outcome. After explaining why the Conservatives won a decisive majority under Boris Johnson, the book considers both the implications of the electoral realignment exposed by Brexit and the distinctiveness of Britain’s contemporary electoral politics.

Bailout politics in Eurozone countries

Since 2010, five Eurozone governments in economic difficulty have received assistance from international lenders on condition that certain policies specified in the Memoranda of Understanding were implemented. How did negotiations take place in this context? What room for manoeuvre did the governments of these countries have? After conditionality, to what extent were governments willing and able to roll back changes imposed on them by the international lenders? Do we find variation across governments, and, if so, why?

This book addresses these questions. It explores the constraints on national executives in the five bailed out countries of the Eurozone during and beyond the crisis (2008–2019).

The book’s principal idea is that, despite international market pressure and creditors’ conditionality, governments had some room for manoeuvre during a bailout and were able to advocate, resist, shape or roll back some of the policies demanded by external actors. Under certain circumstances, domestic actors were also able to exploit the constraint of conditionality to their own advantage. The book additionally shows that after a bailout programme governments could use their discretion to reverse measures in order to attain the greatest benefits at a lower cost. It finally explores the determinants of bargaining leverage – and stresses the importance of credibility.

Six things you should know about Eurozone bailouts
Catherine Moury, Stella Ladi, Daniel Cardoso, and Angie Gago

Chapter 7 concludes. We compare countries and their policy fields, and show that our argument ‘travels’ well: even in least likely cases, governments had some leeway to shape the policies adopted under conditionality and to reverse some of these after a bailout. Additionally, we present the comparative results of our database on conditionality and policy reversals during and after conditionality. We finally address the theoretical and policy implications of our findings and discuss their implications for the current economic crisis resulting from the spread of the Coronavirus.

in Capitalising on constraint
New identities and the British 'culture war'
Robert Johns

This chapter explains why the Conservatives secured their crushing electoral victory. It explores the flow of voters between parties and the influence of age, social class and education on vote choices. The chapter traces the impact of the Brexit factor in shaping the outcome, especially in former Labour-held but Leave-voting areas (the so-called ‘red wall’ seats). It also emphasises the importance of less visible factors, including social change and the continuing differences between towns and cities. The chapter shows that Brexit in many ways hastened processes that were already under way. Nevertheless, the ideological proximity between parties and voters and perceptions of economic competence in 2019 also influenced the vote, further favouring the Conservative Party.

in Breaking the deadlock
Nikki Ikani

This chapter develops a typology by first addressing shortcomings in existing conceptualisations of policy change when applied to EU foreign policy change. The starting point is the different kinds of policy change observed in Chapters 2 and 3. This chapter identifies changes which are difficult to identify using cumulative typologies that divide policy change into progressive ‘orders’, either because first-order and second-order policy changes – which ought to precede or accompany third-order ‘paradigm changes’ – are absent, or because they constitute a different kind of paradigm change, where the policy rationale is questioned and modified without policy undergoing substantive change. It argues that two categories – symbolic change and constructive ambiguity – complement the policy change outputs for the EU, and both institutional plasticity and temporal contingency affect which outcome is more likely. This chapter suggests dividing the temporal context into three registers: structural (decades, centuries), conjunctural (years) and liminal (days, weeks).

in Crisis and change in European Union foreign policy
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Debating the distribution of power and status in the early twenty first century
Benjamin Zala

The concluding chapter reflects on the implications for both scholarship and policymaking of the contested nature of the multipolar narratives analysed in the previous chapters. It brings together a set of recurring themes and topics from across the case studies and draws out some of the general and longer-term implications that emerge from the individual national contexts. For scholars, it discusses the theoretical and empirical challenge of distinguishing between regional and great (global-level) powers as well as making the case for a more fine-grained focus on the perceptual components of polarity analysis. For policymakers, it highlights the need to be able to deal effectively with ambiguity and subjectivity in net assessments and strategic analysis relating to power transitions. It also discusses the likely policy impacts of the continued salience of narratives of imminent multipolarity on issues such as alliance management.

in National perspectives on a multipolar order
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Nikki Ikani

This book provides a single, dedicated, analytical framework for investigating and explaining how the EU adapts its foreign policy after crises, which can be applied to the formal, institutional realm of EU foreign policiesand the ‘softer’ areas of EU external action. We need to assess first the institutional ‘plasticity’ of the policy area: how rules and institutions constrain the key decision-makers during the process of change, but also how the institutions are moulded by decision-makers. Institutions can give form and can take form. The concept of plasticity holds special value in European studies. A second important building block of this analytical framework is temporal contingency, meaning that the policy reform was not logically necessary but has come about owing to events, not all of them foreseen or expected. The conclusion summarises a revised typology of EU foreign policy change, outlining its potential and suggesting avenues for future research.

in Crisis and change in European Union foreign policy