By Jean Blondel, Ferdinand Müller-Rommel

A presentation of the constitution and workings of the nationwide cupboards in Western ecu nations at the present time, in accordance with a standard framework which allows the reader to match their origins, constitution, composition and actions. Emphasis is put on the management and at the personality of coalitions.

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A further link is provided by Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPSs), who are MPs who serve each minister and help to maintain contact between them and the back bench members of their party. In addition to these contacts, both party leaderships when in government maintain Martin Burch 25 formal connections with various Parliamentary Party committees and their officers such as those from the Parliamentary Committee in the Labour Party, the 1922 Committee and its subject committees in the Conservative Party.

Subsequently Conservative leaders have attempted to develop closer liaison with their MPs (Burch, 1983). This growth in backbench influence has not been unique to the Conservative Party and Norton has documented a general decline in party discipline in the Parliaments since 1970 (Norton, 1980). Yet this decline, though significant, should not be exaggerated. Judged in terms of the extent to which MPs follow the party line in voting, cohesion in both Parliamentary Parties has remained well above 90 per cent (Rose, 1983).

However, it survived, though much amended, until the adoption of a new Constitution in 1937. The Irish Free State Constitution in theory and in practice incorporated the central features of the British model: a popularly elected chamber chose a Prime Minister who in turn chose party parliamentary colleagues and formed an executive which effectively ruled as long as it retained a parliamentary majority. There were a number of safeguards against undue executive dominance which deviated from the British model: a written Constitution, proportional representation, an elected second chamber, provision for popular referendum and initiative and the introduction of 'extern ministers' (to be chosen by the Dail and not bound by the conventions of collective responsibility.

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