on Political Studies Review (by Maximilien Cogels, University of Louvaine)
While the study of presidentialisation is often combined with the concept of personalisation, Gianluca Passarelli decides to make a clear conceptual distinction between the two, focussing on the already highly debated study of the presidentialisation of politics. By starting with the premise that under certain circumstances presidentialisation is also possible in non-presidential systems (this is highly contested between scholars), this book takes a closer look at the presidentialisation of political parties in the world, advocating that the presidentialisation of politics stems from the behaviour of political parties. This collaborative book considers that political parties are the driving force behind the phenomenon. The authors study in this book the constitutional structures (opportunities and constraints) that affect presidentialisation while including party genetics (and their organisational changes over time) as an intervening factor. This is an original approach given the fact that these two dimensions are often studied separately. Indeed, the book is innovative in regard to two crucial points, the first being the study of these two dimensions together, and the second being its method of bringing together all types of democratic regimes.
Indeed, The Presidentialization of Political Parties uses a most dissimilar cases approach, in which countries of all three regime types (presidential, semi-presidential and parliamentary) are included, namely, Australia, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, the US, Ukraine and the UK. Inside each country, a few political parties that vary in their party genetic features have been selected. The main goal of the contributors is to answer why, when and where the presidentialisation of political parties occurs, a goal in which they succeed with regard to the selected cases. However, the findings based on the study of several countries are difficult to generalise to all (e.g. presidential) systems. Every case is different, and presidentialisation should be seen as a dynamic process, not something that exists or does not. The authors conclude that the presidentialisation of political parties arises in (semi-) presidential systems, thus leaving parliamentary systems to the ongoing debate between scholars. Indeed, they found that in the cases studied, the nature of the constitutional structure has a significant influence on the presidentialisation of parties. Nevertheless, Passarelli and colleagues also conclude that party genetics are an impact on the phenomenon and thus leaving the door open for the presidentialisation of parliamentary systems in certain phases. This book is essential for those interested in party politics, as well as for those concerned with the phenomenon of presidentialisation and personalisation. It is accessible to scholars at all levels.