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In nearly all national political systems, central governments are better equipped than ever before to exercise effective jurisdiction over their territories.

In all such systems, political parties are key institutions, for they are the agencies by which majority opinion in a modern mass electorate is mobilized and expressed.

Indeed, the history of the political party in its modern form is coincidental with the development of contemporary constitutional-democratic systems.

Even in the heavily industrialized states of the modern world, there has been an accelerating tendency toward greater centralization of power at the national level.

In the United States, for example, the structure of relationships among the governments at the national, state, and local levels has changed in a number of ways to add to the power of the federal government in Washington.

If the president’s party or coalition also controls a legislative majority, the prime minister is generally a secondary figure, responsible for the day-to-day running of the government.

However, the office of prime minister becomes more important when one party or coalition controls the presidency and a rival party or coalition retains majority support in the legislature.

On another level was the collapse of the Warsaw Pact when the countries of eastern Europe reclaimed their sovereignty in the late 1980s after decades of domination by the Soviet Union.

In western Europe, however, countries joined together to form the supranational European Communities, which ultimately were succeeded by the European Union (EU) and expanded to encompass the bulk of the European continent.

Although constitutional government in this sense flourished in England and in some other historical systems for a considerable period, it is only recently that it has been associated with forms of mass participation in politics.

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