Department of Political Science


Political Science 340: West European Political Systems                                                                                             Fall 2002


Mid-Term Exam


Part I: Choose the one best answer for each question. Mark the correct answer on the computer-readable form sheet (1 point per question; 60 points total).


1)   The image of a cooperative and peaceful Europe is

A)  a reflection of history and tradition.

B)  a sharp contrast with the reality of Europe's past.

C)  clearly inaccurate.

D)  based on economic prosperity shared among all European nations.


2)   Europe, as a region, can be studied with reference to commonalities in

A)  geography and climate.

B)  social and political life.

C)  economic growth and development.

D)  All of the above.


3)   The Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, and industrial revolution transformed Europe in its

A)  aspirations and ideas.

B)  technology.

C)  social structure.

D)  All of the above.


4)   The Peace of Westphalia terminated the

A)  War of the Roses.

B)  Thirty Years' War.

C)  Bosnian conflict.

D)  First World War.


5)   When governments sell off substantial government-owned enterprises, its called

A)  social cutbacks.

B)  socialism.

C)  democratization.

D)  privatization.


6)   The Cold War was a period of tension between

A)  autocracy and democracy.

B)  totalitarian and authoritarian regimes.

C)  democracy and communism.

D)  democracy and dictatorship.


7)   Legitimate political participation takes the following form(s):

A)  referendums and initiatives.

B)  voting and organization of political parties.

C)  protests and public demonstrations.

D)  All of the above.


8)   The political culture of a country includes

A)  feelings toward the nation.

B)  trust in government.

C)  policy expectations.

D)  All of the above.


9)   All of the following concepts refer to the legislative body of a government EXCEPT

A)  congress.

B)  judiciary.

C)  assembly.

D)  parliament.


10)   In parliamentary systems, if the people disapprove of the job the government is doing they most often

A)  wait until the term of the president is completed and then call for new elections.

B)  change government through party elections in the legislature.

C)  change government by calling for general elections.

D)  declare the government immobile and write a new constitution.


11)   Some of the criticisms of presidential systems include all of the following EXCEPT

A)  they may be less representative of a wide range of public opinion than are parliamentary systems.

B)  they may be inclined to divided-government.

C)  it may be more difficult to get rid of a poor head of government.

D)  they seem more stable.


12)   In parliamentary systems, the prime minister is usually chosen by

A)  political parties.

B)  direct election by the people.

C)  direct election by the the legislature.

D)  nomination by the party and election by the legislature.


13)   When there are two houses of a legislature, it is considered

A)  split.

B)  federalist.

C)  a true congressional system.

D)  bicameralism.


14)   Federal systems are found in all of the following countries EXCEPT

A)  France.

B)  Switzerland.

C)  Belgium.

D)  Germany.


15)   Proportional democracies base representation on

A)  percentage of voter support.

B)  the candidate who wins the most votes.

C)  a run-off between the two top candidates.

D)  None of the above.


16)   An alternative to proportional representation is a system in which parties receive legislative seats in proportion to their vote percentage is

A)  system of direct election.

B)  coalition government system.

C)  first-past-the-post system.

D)  socialist party system.


17)  Voter preference based on social class or religion is referred to as

A)  cleavage.

B)  proportionality.

C)  differentiation.

D)  ethnicity.


18)   Most European countries are

A)  single party systems.

B)  two-party systems.

C)  multiparty systems.

D)  None of the above.


19)   "Green Parties" in Europe have been traditionally associated with

A)  religion.

B)  the environment.

C)  social class.

D)  extremism.


20)   British foreign policy since 1945 includes all of the following EXCEPT

A)  membership in NATO.

B)  holding a permanent seat on the Security Council of the UN.

C)  maintaining the British Empire.

D)  participation in UN Peacekeeping Forces.


21)   The National Health Service was established in

A)  1918.

B)  1932.

C)  1948.

D)  1956.


22)   The Queen of England's heritage is

A)  Scottish.

B)  Irish.

C)  Russian.

D)  German.


23)  In Britain, legislation is drafted by

A)  Parliament and Parliamentary committees.

B)  the House of Lords.

C)  the prime minister.

D)  departments.


24)   The transition to democracy in Great Britain is best characterized as

A)  revolutionary.

B)  evolutionary.

C)  sporadic.

D)  without conflict.


25)   Sinn Fein is a

A)  political party.

B)  religious organization.

C)  terrorist organization.

D)  leader of the IRA.


26)   The term "backbencher" refers to

A)  the public viewing sector of the Parliament.

B)  the MPs not appointed to a post.

C)  press boxes.

D)  members of the party not in the majority.


27)   Social Security in Britain is

A)  the biggest spending program of the British Government.

B)  the most popular program.

C)  not one of the programs cut by Thatcher.

D)  All of the above.


28)   Government in England after 1951 is characterized as all of the following EXCEPT

A)  a period of social upheaval and instability.

B)  the administration of Churchill, Eden, and Macmillan.

C)  the supportive of the welfare state.

D)  Keynesian-based economic growth.


29)   One of the major differences between the United States' cabinet and that of England is that the English cabinet

A)  has less formal authority.

B)  ministers have fixed terms in office.

C)  members differ in number according to the wishes of the head of government.

D)  members may be potential rivals during the next election.


30)   The most important coordinating personnel in Whitehall are

A)  ministers.

B)  civil servants.

C)  members of parliament.

D)  secretarial staff.


31)   The legal responsibilities of the Queen include all of the following EXCEPT

A)  formal assent to laws passed by Parliament.

B)  formal duties as assigned by Parliament.

C)  suggesting legislation.

D)  functioning as symbolic Head of State.


32)   English courts

A)  can not declare an act of parliament unconstitutional.

B)  do not question how the executive exercises its delegated authority.

C)  alter the unwritten constitution in very direct ways.

D)  None of the above.


33)   "(Policies) ...will not be those of doctrine, whether of left or right, but of achievement", was a goal of the

A)  New Labour Party.

B)  Conservative Party.

C)  Social-Democratic Party.

D)  Liberal Party.


34)   When the prime minister appears in the House of Commons, it is called

A)  State of the Union.

B)  State of the Empire.

C)  question time.

D)  confrontational.


35)   A prime minister selects cabinet members on the criteria of

A)  personal loyalty.

B)  silencing critics.

C)  minority representation.

D)  All of the above.


36)   During the 1960s the continuities of the past were attacked as the dead hand of tradition. Politicians promoted

A)  administrative efficiency.

B)  change from the welfare state to privatization of the economy.

C)  managerial activism.

D)  socialism and other forms of radical protests of the 1960s.


37)   The executive agencies of British government are often referred to as

A)  the government.

B)  Westminster.

C)  Whitehall.

D)  10 Downing Street.


38)   The most distinctive feature of Wales is

A)  geography.

B)  culture.

C)  religion.

D)  language.


39)   The major symbol of the British Government and the unity of the United Kingdom is

A)  the Crown.

B)  the Magna Carta.

C)  Westminster Cathedral.

D)  Number 10 Downing Street.


40)   France's ranking in per capita gross domestic product (GDP) is

A)  behind the Scandinavian countries.

B)  slightly behind the United States and Germany.

C)  ahead of Britain and Italy.

D)  All of the above.


41)   The income gap in France has typically been lowest during the administration of

A)  conservative governments.

B)  socialist governments.

C)  progressive governments.

D)  governments that had a high number of religious representatives.


42)   All of the following statements concerning women in the workforce are true EXCEPT:

A)  the percentage is somewhat smaller than that of the United States.

B)  the number of women entering the workforce is increasing.

C)  French women in the workforce is below the average for Western Europe.

D)  women comprise 35 percent of the workforce.


43)   All of the following statements are true concerning the baccalaureate EXCEPT that they

A)  guarantee admission into University.

B)  are being granted to an increasing number of students.

C)  reflect the increasing costs of education to parents.

D)  reflect the social class background of the family.


44)   All of the following statements concerning religion in France are true EXCEPT:

A)  farmers have had a decreasing level of church attendance.

B)  church attendance of women below the age of 40 is declining.

C)  blue-collar workers have been some of the most observant Catholics.

D)  religious practices have been declining in all social groups in France.


45)   Napoleon Bonaparte established the

A)  First Republic.

B)  constitutional monarchy.

C)  First Empire.

D)  Vichy regime.


46)   The percentage of registered voters who participate in parliamentary elections has never been less than

A)  49 percent.

B)  62 percent.

C)  71 percent.

D)  93 percent.


47)   Geographically, France is considered to be all of the following EXCEPT

A)  Mediterranean.

B)  Continental.

C)  Atlantic.

D)  Land-locked.


48)   In France, television has a primary source of political information had replaced all other media to a greater extent than in

A)  the United States

B)  Germany

C)  Great Britain

D)  All of the above.


49)   The term pantouflage refers to the movement from the

A)  public sector to the private sector.

B)  private to the public sector.

C)  grands corps  to the grandes ecole.

D)  military to the political sector.


50)   Ethnic tensions over French citizenship have fueled support for the

A)  National Front.

B)  National Socialists.

C)  Christian Democrats.

D)  Union for French Democracy (UDF)


51)   The French family

A)  remains the basic unit of political socialization in France.

B)  has been subject to legislative changes that have gradually modified the legal incapacities of married women.

C)  is characterized by a 40 percent divorce rate.

D)  All of the above.


52)   The French Ministry of Education controls

A)  curriculums.

B)  teaching methods.

C)  teacher recruitment.

D)  All of the above.


53)  French union strikes have had

A)  little public support.

B)  little worker support.

C)  stiff government resistance.

D)  surprisingly high levels of public support.


54)  In France, enfranchisement has included

A)  granting women the right to vote in 1944.

B)  lowering the voting age to 21.

C)  requiring property ownership as a prerequisite of voting.

D)  instituting a poll tax similar to that in England.


55)   The importance of class identity has

A)  declined most among blue-collar workers.

B)  declined most among white-collar employees and executives.

C)  declined among middle managers.

D)  increased across lines of occupation and income.


56)   An invitation to the voters approve or disapprove a legislative or constitutional measure is called a(n)

A)  initiative.

B)  referendum.

C)  recall.

D)  suffrage.


57)   The French prime minister has the authority to

A)  dissolve parliament.

B)  run the government.

C)  declare martial law.

D)  call for new elections.


58)   France's government is now the

A)  Second Republic.

B)  Fourth Republic.

C)  Third Republic.

D)  Fifth Republic.


59)  In which of the following countries did the coalition government just collapse:

A)  Ireland.

B)  Switzerland.

C)  the Netherlands

D)  Germany.


60)  The French leader of the Vichy government during most of World War II was

A)  Charles de Gaulle

B)  Napoleon III

C)  Marshall Petain

D)  Francois Mitterand



Part II: Define and describe four (4) of the following five terms or concepts in one page or less per question in your exam book. List and explain their main characteristics and use specific examples from the readings and/or class lectures to illustrate your answer. Answering each question, try to address the following five points: what is it or does it mean, where or in which country does it exist, who or which groups are involved, what is its cause or effect, and why is it important or significant? (5 points per question; 20 points total).


1) Parliamentary system

2) Shadow cabinet

3) Unitary government and devolution

4) Cohabitation

5) Two-ballot electoral system



Part III: Answer one of the following two essay questions. Write the answer in your exam book (20 points per question; 20 points total):


1) Compare the historical and constitutional development of Great Britain and France and the impact this had on their political systems. Explain the similarities and/or differences between the two countries in terms of the timing and impact of their nation-state formation, industrialization, and democratization. Use the British system and the French system as examples to highlight the importance of, for instance, of political cleavages and political culture in the political development of a country and the stability of its government. How important, on the other hand, are political institutions such as political parties and electoral systems in the functioning and stability of British and French politics?


2) Describe and compare the role and power of the British Prime Minister and the French President. Compare them in terms of their relations with other institutions of the executive (e.g., the Monarch, prime minister, and the cabinet) and the legislature (upper and lower house). Use the British system and the French system as examples to highlight the general differences between the parliamentary and presidential systems of government. Explain why Britain is said to have “cabinet government” and France is often called a “semi-presidential” or “mixed parliamentary-presidential system” of government. Compare and rank the two executive offices in terms of their overall power within their own domestic political systems, respectively.



Good Luck!



Answer Key:


Part I:














































































































































































Part II:


1) Parliamentary democracy: United Kingdom

                parliament is highest ‘constitutional” authority, more powerful than executive and judiciary, at least in theory

                no written constitution, no constitutional court, no judicial review

                parliament elects executive, prime minister, who is responsible to parliament

ex: in UK, H. of Commons has more democratic legitimacy and thus power than H. of Lords, monarch, courts


2) Shadow cabinet: United Kingdom

                team of shadow ministers of the opposition party who would take over after electoral victory

                shadow the functions of prime ministers and department heads

                shadow prime minister and shadow cabinet members question cabinet during parliamentary question hour

                try to check government and convince public that they are the better team, government

                ex: William Hague of Conservative Party and his shadow ministers


3) Unitary government and devolution

                in United Kingdom and France; opposite of a federal system

                powerful national and local governments, but regional/provincial governments lack constitutionally guaranteed powers

                usually highly centralized gov’t, but powers can be devolved or delegated to subnational governments; however, delegation of powers can be reversed by national government

                most countries in Europe and the world have unitary systems, but many European countries are devolving powers to the regional or local level.


4) Cohabitation: France

                President and Prime minister come from different parties

                after legislative elections, when Nat. Assembly majority different from Pres. party

                Pres. can’t/does not dissolve NA, has to respect voter’ choice, appoints PM from opposite party

                has occured three times since 1958/Fifth Republic

                ex.: Pres. Mitterand (PS)—PM Chirac (RPR) 1986-88; Pres. Mitterand (PS) —PM Balladur (RPR) 1993-95; currently Pres. Chirac (RPR) – PM Jospin (PS) 1997-


5) Two-ballot electoral system

                exists in France, for both presidential and parliamentary elections

                if no candidate wins a majority in first ballot, which is usually the case, then a second ballot is held a week or two later, and every voter can a second time

                in presidential elections, top two vote-getters move on to run-off election; in parliamentary elections, only candidates who receive at least 12.5 % of vote in first ballot can run in the second round

                first vote/ballot is to reduce field of candidates, second vote is to chose winner

                in first ballot, most voters chose their true preference, in second ballot, they vote strategically, i.e. for the candidate closest to their true preference that has a chance of winning (voting for the “lesser eveil”)

                formation of electoral coalitions before first ballot or inbetween first and second ballot allows smaller parties to gain seats and survive in French two ballot, plurality electoral system



Part III:


1). British and French historical and constitutional development; impact on electoral and party systems





historical development

- early nation-state formation

- early and private investor/market-led industrialization

- early and gradual democratization

- early nation-state formation

- initial industrialization arrested by French Revolution 1789 and Napoleonic wars,

- late and incomplete state-led industrialization

- democratization interrupted by return to monarchy and authoritarian coups d’etat

constitutional development

- no written and thus flexible constitution

- “unwritten constitution” is based on important historical documents (e.g. Magna Carta), important acts of parliament, custom, precedent, common law tradition, scholarly writings

- codified and specific constitution

- about 15-20 different constitutions since 1789

- numerous regime changes, from monarchy (ancien regime/absolute monarchy before 1789, restoration 1815, constitutional monarchy 1830-48) to republic (I-V. Republics) to authoritarian regimes (Robespierre, Napoleon’s I. Empire 1803-1815, Louis Napoleon’s II. Empire 1852-1870)



unwritten, consists of important historical documents (Magna Carta), parliamentary acts (Act of Settlement, Parl. Act of 1911, etc.), tradition, common law, precedents, judge-made law

codified, detailed, sometimes ambiguous,

written by de Gaulle in 1958

roman law or civil law tradition

based on statutes, less precedents

judges only interpret the law


no constitutional court, no judicial review

Constitutional Council, can review and reject bills before they become law, are promulgated by President




political cleavages

- dominant social class

(-religion, Anglican church vs. Catholic minority)

(- urban-rural/center-periphery)


- social class

- religion (Catholic vs. secular)

- urban-rural/center-periphery (Paris vs. provinces)

(- republican vs. traditionalist/ monarchist)


political culture

civic culture, consensus oriented, democratic, non-extremist

conflict orienrted, distrustful of authority, left and right-wing extremism

electoral system:

single-member-district, plurality system; first-past-the-post; winner-takes-all system

two-ballot, single-memeber-district, plurality system (not a proportional representation system!)


659 districts, each elects 1 MP

577 districts, each elects one deputy


candidate with most votes wins

after 1. vote run-off of candidates with at least 12.5 % of vote; electoral coalition building between first and second ballot; candidate withdrawals and endorsements; candidate with most votes in 2. ballot wins

parties: social bases

Labour: working, lower middle class, unions

Liberal Democrats (Whigs): professsional class

Conservatives (Tories): upper, upper middle class, business

PCF: low-skill workers

PS: workers, gov’t employees

Greens: young, students, educated

UDF: professionals, middle class

RPR: mixed; small business

NF: low-skilled workers, young and old, men

parties: ideologies

Labour: pro-union, nationalizations; now New Labor, centrist

Liberal Democrats (Whigs): classic liberal, individual rights

Conservatives (Tories): privatization, pro-business, small government, anti Welfare state

PCF: state control of industry

PS: nationalization, state intervention, “dirigisme”

Greens: pro-environment

UDF: both secular and Catholic elements, centrist

RPR: strong state, nationalist; now more small government

NF: anti-European, extreme nationalist, racist


two-party system; two-and-a-half party system; three-party system

multi-party system, which increasingly resembles two camps/blocs because of electoral coalitions


clear majorities, stable and effective government

representation of smaller groups, constituencies


favors large parties, discriminates against small or new parties

lacks stability, could lead to fragmentation



2). British Prime Minister and French President






British Prime Minister

French President


chief political executive

President is chief political executive


head of gov’t;

head of state


monarch is head of state, but no real power

President is head of state, more powerful than PM


PM appoints cabinet from majority party; must appeal to factions within his own party and cooptate rivals

President has extraordinary powers, e.g. emergency powers (Art. 16), can declare and end state of emergency after consulting with PM and leaders of NA and Senate


First-among-equals in cabinet; dominance of cabinet and policy depends on PM’s leadership skills and personality

can call referendum on important issues and circumvent PM and parliament


PM is leader of the majority party in House of Commons; must enforce party discipline

Can dissolve N.A. and call for new elections, but only after one-year waiting period after previous elections


elected by parliament and responsible to parliament

not selected by and responsible to National Assembly (NA), but needs support in parliament to govern


vote-of-no-confidence forces resignation

President can only be removed by impeachment


can ignore House of Lords, or stack it with friendly majority by appointing peers

has to work with Prime Minister , NA and Senate;


parliamentary system

mixed presidential-parliamentary system, semi-presidential system


most powerful office in UK

Most powerful office in France