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Political Succession in Western Europe

  • Peter Calvert

Abstract

The history of state formation in Western Europe is a history of succession struggles. The Thirty Years War, the War of the Spanish Succession, the War of the Polish Succession and the War of the Austrian Succession each originated in dynastic rivalries. Orderly hereditary succession became the very hallmark of the successful imperial state. At the end of the nineteenth century only two states in Europe were republics: France and Switzerland. The dynastic tradition has lasted longer in Europe than most other places: even the Pyrenean principality of Andorra remains under the joint suzerainty of the Bishop of Seo de Urgel and His Most Christian Majesty the President of the French Republic. Nor can we be sure that dynastic succession may not have an unexpected renaissance; the Balkan monarchies that vanished with the unsuccessful counter-coup of Constantine XIII (II) are unlikely to return, but the Spanish monarchy has proved much more successful than anyone expected and its entry into the European Community aligns it clearly with the bulk of its fellows in Europe. Europe after the French Revolution has also a great deal to teach us about other forms of succession, and it is therefore particularly appropriate as a place to begin.

Keywords

Prime Minister Grand Coalition Party System French Revolution Electoral College 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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© Peter Calvert 1987

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  • Peter Calvert

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