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Series: Politics Today
Author: David Arter

This book analyses the contemporary politics of the nation states of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and the Home Rule territories of Greenland, Faeroes and Åland that together make up the Nordic region. It covers Scandinavia past and present, parties in developmental perspective, the Scandinavian party system model, the Nordic model of government, the Nordic welfare model, legislative-executive relations in the region, and the changing security environment. The Nordic states have a shared history, common linguistic bonds and a common state Lutheran religion. Of the six Scandinavian languages, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are mutually intelligible, whilst Swedish is an official national language in Finland. Turning to a brief overview of nation-building and state-building in the Nordic region, an obvious distinction can be drawn between those 'stateless nations' which went on to achieve statehood and the territories that have not achieved independence. The book presents a brief chronology of events in Norden up to 1922, when Åland achieved autonomy. In Sweden the historic phase of party-building produced a basic two-plus-three configuration and a party system based on five 'isms': communism, social democracy, agrarianism, liberalism and conservatism. By 1930 there was a bifurcated parliamentary left and a fragmented nonsocialist bloc consisting of essentially town-based Liberal and Conservative parties and a farmer-based Agrarian Party. Whilst acknowledging the limitations inherent in the periodisation of party system change, the book focuses on the extent of party system change since the 'earthquake elections' of 1970-73.

David Arter

Heidar 2000: 418, my italics). This chapter is not concerned to resolve the question of the relative policy influence of standing committees and party groups. Clearly, however, conclusions cannot simply be based on surveys in which MPs have compared and rated the importance of the two. Rather, the chapter examines the main powers and functions of the Nordic standing committees, the changes in 210 Legislative–executive relations in the Nordic region their work practices and the contribution of PPGs as autonomous policy sub-systems. Three points are to be emphasised

in Scandinavian politics today
Parliamentary, presidential or prime ministerial?
David Arter

-serving Urho Kekkonen (1956–81) it might not have been wholly in­appro­priate to refer to the existence of ‘presidential government’ in Finland. The adoption of a new constitution on 1 March 2000, however, reduced the role of the head of state and meant that Finland was no longer a case of semi-presidential government other than in the minimalist sense of a ‘situation where a popularly-elected, fixed-term president exists alongside a prime 230 Legislative–executive relations in the Nordic region minister and cabinet who are responsible to parliament’ (Elgie 2004: 317

in Scandinavian politics today
An alternative model?
David Arter

, Peter Esaiasson and Knut Heidar put the question: Do the Nordic parliaments represent an alternative model to parliaments in the style of Westminster and the US Congress? Do the Nordic parliaments, in other words, form a homo­ geneous and distinct unity within the universe of democratically elected legislative assemblies? They conclude (Esaiasson and Heidar 2000: 418) that ‘the particular mix of influential party groups, not-so-strong group hierarchies 194 Legislative–executive relations in the Nordic region and fairly strong standing committees is shared by

in Scandinavian politics today
A regional political class for itself
Klaus Stolz

constitution is much more than a mere formality. The Scotland Act of 1998 not only defines Scotland’s place within the territorial order of the UK, it also determines large parts of the internal rules of democracy in Scotland. The scope of these provisions ranges from the electoral system to questions of government formation, and legislative–executive relations to prescribing details of the parliament’s internal structure. A regional political class with its own distinct career interests is not likely to be content with such a situation. Instead, it would be expected to act

in Towards a regional political class?