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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

During the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, Europe was the most turbulent region on earth, convulsed by war, economic crises, and social and political conflict. Yet after 1945 Western Europe became among the most stable, a study in democracy, social harmony, and prosperity. How can we understand this remarkable transformation? This chapter shows how an historical institutionalist analysis of the continent’s political development that focuses on the role played by institutions in shaping political outcomes and analyzes institutions as products of the historical contexts within which they evolve, can help explain the puzzle of successful democratic consolidation in Western Europe.

Keywords: democracy, democratic consolidation, postwar Europe, social democracy, postwar order

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