Intergovernmental Relations in the UK: Continuity in a Time of Change?

Nicola McEwen, Wilfried Swenden, Nicole Bolleyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Party political incongruence in the UK after 2007 has had a moderate effect on both the machinery of intergovernmental relations and the dominant modes of intergovernmental interaction. In assessing changes in intergovernmental structures, we find more frequent meetings and more formalised interactions. A preference for informal bilateral exchange, however, still prevails. In assessing changes in the nature of intergovernmental relations, we find some intensification of conflict, but amid continued co-operation. While one might find more pronounced changes after longer periods of party political incongruence, we argue that the limited effect observed thus far can be traced back to: (i) formal-legal features of the UK multi-level polity; (ii) the nature of the policy sectors requiring intergovernmental co-ordination (iii); the specific political dynamics within the constituent governments; and (iv) the mitigating role and structure of non-elected institutions such as the civil service and the judiciary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323–343
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Politics and International Relations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • intergovernmental relations
  • UK
  • devolution
  • party incongruence


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