chapter  7
GREAT BRITAIN: A STABLE, BUT FRAGILE, PARTY SYSTEM?
ByIAN BUDGE
Pages 11

Great Britain forms an interesting case in the context of this book. The national two-anda-half party system has persisted unchanged almost to the end of the millennium. Governments have continued under the marked predominance of the Conservative Party, which has been evident since the First World War. Party stability has been buttressed by political institutions-Parliament, civil service, law courts-established in the midnineteenth century and unchanged since then. In all this Britain contrasts with the other large democracies of Western Europe-France, Italy, Spain, Germany-all of which have seen major party and institutional changes since the Second World War (sometimes more than one). Britain also shows more party system stability than most of the smaller countries outside Scandinavia. Sometimes, after the Second World War for example, such stability has been seen as a good thing, representing the success of the British in maintaining their democracy in the face of authoritarian threats. Latterly it has been dismissed as another symptom of the country’s failure to adapt to the modern world.