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					       Comparative Politics: Structures and Choices
                                Chapter 6
                                By Lowell Barrington




 Political Systems and Their Rules



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                   Quotations
►   “Democracy     is a charming form of government,
    full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort
    of equality to equals and unequals alike”
        – Plato

► “In  any great organization it is far, far safer to be
    wrong with the majority than to be right alone.”
        – American economist John Kenneth Galbraith
           Learning Objectives
► Define key concepts such as political institution,
  democracy, authoritarianism, totalitarianism,
  and federal versus unitary systems.
► Explain the role of a constitution.
► Discuss the general type of political system and
  important constitutional issues in the ten Topic
  in Countries cases.
► Grasp the “veto points” theoretical perspective
  examined in this chapter’s comparative
  exercise.
 Political Institutions

           Key Terms

►Institution    ►Political
                institutions
   Regime Types: Democracy

                 Key Terms

►Democracy              ►Westminster   model of
►Majoritarian
            democracy   democracy
►Consensus democracy    ►American model of

►European model of
                        democracy
democracy               ►Latin American model of
                        democracy
 Regime Types: Democracy
► Democracy
  Selection of Government Officials Through Free
   and Fair Elections
  The Balance of Majority Rule and Minority
   Protection
  Limitations on Government Action
  Variants of Democracy
   ► Majoritarian vs. consensus democracy
   ► Westminster, European, Latin American, and
    American
    The Variants of Democracy
► Majoritarian
   Strong executives, few checks on majority, conflict
    between two major parties
   Westminster –parliament with FPTP district voting
► Consensus
   Proportional election rules, multiple parties, diffuse
    power across branches/levels of government
   American model – presidentialism with FPTP
    district voting for legislature (Pluralist)
   Latin American model – presidentialism with
    Proportional Representation electoral system for
    the legislature
    Think and Discuss:
 Look at the list of criteria associated
  with free and fair elections in this
       chapter (pp. 191-192).
How do American elections measure up
       based on these criteria?
  Regime Types: Totalitarianism
      and Authoritarianism
                   Key Terms

►Totalitarianism        ►Authoritarianism
►Fascism                ►Military authoritarianism
►Communism              ►Party authoritarianism
                        ►Bureaucratic
                        authoritarianism
                        ►Semiauthoritarianism
                        ►Semidemocracy
                Regime Types
► Totalitarianism
   Features of Totalitarianism
     ►Atomization,  official ideology, single party, controls
      information, force (terror), economy
   Variants of Totalitarianism:
     ►Fascism  – racial superiority with militarism
     ►Communism – collective ownership MOP; dominant
      state justified to end capital class
► Authoritarianism
   Features of Authoritarianism
   Variants of Authoritarianism
► Semiauthoritarianism/Semidemocracy
           Regime Types:
          Authoritarianism
► Authoritarianism
   Features of Authoritarianism –
    ►Dominant   leader (small group)
    ►Limited political participation
    ►Autonomy of society from state control
    ►Lack of ideology
    ►Limited economic control

   Variants of Authoritarianism
    ►Military,   party, & bureaucratic
        Bureaucratic - societies with high levels of modernization
         requiring leaders to rely on technocrats for policy making
         and implementation)
         Regime Types:
      Semiauthoritarianism
        Semidemocracy
► Semiauthoritarian      or Semidemocratic
   Components of democracy are openly
    incorporated into an authoritarian system
    ►Ex:  limited elections, constrained judiciary, partially
      free media
   Previously viewed as transitional
   Have demonstrated their stability
    ►Occasional   challenges: Orange revolution
         Topic in Countries
       Type in the United Kingdom,
► Regime
 Germany, France, and India
  The UK: “Westminster” democracy; highly
   majoritarian
  Germany: Consensus democracy; combination
   of coalition gov’t.s, federalism, and corporatism
  France: Aspects of majoritarian and consensus
   democracy; strong executive
  India: Parliamentary democracy; system has
   evolved from one-party dominant to multiparty
         Topic in Countries
► Regime   Type in Mexico, Brazil, and
 Nigeria
  Mexico: Party-authoritarian system until recently;
   today an unconsolidated democracy
  Brazil: Has alternated between democracy and
   military authoritarianism; remains an unconsolidated
   democracy with traditional elites maintaining
   significant power
  Nigeria: Combination of majoritarian and
   consensus democracy; has alternated between
   democracy and military authoritarianism; democratic
   status is increasingly unclear
         In Theory and Practice
    Political Change in Mexico and
      Easton’s Systems Theory
► “Old Institutionalism” in Political Science Had
  Focused on Describing Institutions
► The Behavioralism Movement That Began in the
  1950s Focused on Explaining Political Outcomes
     David Easton proposed that all political systems
      translate inputs (demands and supports) into
      outputs (policy)
     The system responds to changes in supports
      and demands
     Easton’s model pays little attention to the
      design of the institutions themselves
       In Theory and Practice
  Political Change in Mexico and
    Easton’s Systems Theory
► Mexico   and Easton’s Approach
   In the latter part of the twentieth century,
    changes in demands and supports put pressure
    on the government of Mexico
   Resulted in policy changes, including the
    political liberalization of the 1970s-1990s
   Even without looking “inside” the Mexican
    system, Easton’s framework helps explain the
    changes that led to the PRI losing its dominance
    over Mexican politics
         Topic in Countries
► Regime Type in the Russian
 Federation, China, and Iran
  Russia: Democratic following collapse of USSR;
   creeping authoritarianism; semiauthoritarian system
   today
  China: Under Mao Zedong, often considered a
   totalitarian system; since Deng Xiaoping, more like a
   party-authoritarian system
  Iran: Theocracy; under former President Khatami,
   attempts at reform; under President Ahmadinejad, a
   return to hardline policies
          In Theory and Practice
                China and Skocpol’s
           States and Social Revolutions
► Theda Skocpol’s 1979 Book Set the Stage
 for a New Focus on Political Institutions
   Skocpol saw state institutions as an important
    independent variable, not a “black box” like in
    Easton’s approach
   Led to calls to “bring the state back in”
► China   is a Main Case in Skocpol’s Book
   Collapse of Imperial System due to the state
    relying on local leaders for military support
   Argument relevant today - China relies more and
    more on regional and local officials
           In Theory and Practice
Iran & Rational Choice New Institutionalism
► New     Institutionalism
     Focuses on theories that use political institutions to
      explain political outcomes
     Three main variants:
       ► SociologicalN.I. – institutions as social constructs
       ►Historical N.I. – institutions change over time
       ► Rational Choice N.I. – only a product of rational calculations

►   Rational Choice New Institutionalism
     P.I.s products of rational choices by political actors
     Existing rules constrain decision makers, but they
      may also try to change these arrangements
           In Theory and Practice
Iran & Rational Choice New Institutionalism
► Rational    Choice N.I. and Iran
     Many in the West portray Iranian leaders as irrationa
      fanatics
     But, Rational Choice N.I. would see them as much
      more rational, designing the rules of their theocracy
      to maximize goals: maintain power & control society
►   Reformers versus Hardliners
     Rational Choice N.I. explains how reformers wanting
      to change existing rules are constrained
     It also explains the hardliners’ use of the existing
      rules to block pro-reform candidates
  The Constitution: A Regime’s
    Rules for Making Rules
                 Key Terms

►Constitution         ►Constitutionalism
►Rule   of law
  The Constitution: A Regime’s
    Rules for Making Rules
► Constitution
   Acts as the official “rules of the game” for a
    particular political system
► Constitutionalism
   A central concept in the U.S. and other democracies
   Refers to the ideas:
     ► that constitutions are designed to limit the power of
       government
     ► that government officials must follow the laws of the land
     ►that upholding these limitations and following these laws is
       a key source of legitimacy
       Think and Discuss:
Is the U.S. Constitution really as vague as
 the discussion in the textbook suggests?
  Provide specific examples from the U.S.
   Constitution to support your position.
          Topic in Countries
► TheConstitution in the United
 Kingdom, Germany, France, and India
   The UK: Not in a single written document; a
    collection of acts, legal opinions, and customs
   Germany: The constitution lays out both social
    welfare protections and limits on government
   France: 5th Republic Constitution, established in
    1958, combined a strong president with the
    central principles of the French Revolution
   India: Long, detailed, and heavily amended;
    federal system with strong central government
           Topic in Countries
► TheConstitution in Mexico, Brazil, and
 Nigeria
   Mexico: Originally written in 1917; prohibits the
    president and legislators from running for
    reelection; provides for checks and balances that
    became important when PRI lost its dominance
   Brazil: Current constitution written in 1988;
    enshrined privileges for the outgoing military gov’t.
   Nigeria: Most recent constitution written in 1999;
    emphasis on the need for unity in a country with
    prevalent identity and political divisions since
    independence
          Topic in Countries
► TheConstitution in the Russian
 Federation, China, and Iran
   Russia: New constitution since December 1993;
    Putin not seeking third term gave some legitimacy
    to the constitution in an otherwise increasingly
    authoritarian system
   China: Evidence that a constitution, even one that
    is somewhat followed, does not equal democracy
   Iran: Constitution after the Revolution implemented
    a theocracy, including the position of Supreme
    Leader; overhauled in 1989 (abolished prime min.)
       Levels of Government


               Key Terms

►Unitary system     ►Shared powers
►Federal system     ►Confederation
►Reserved powers    ►Devolution
      Levels of Government
► Unitary   Versus Federal Arrangements
   Unitary: Lower levels of government have no
    powers reserved to them.
   Federal: Lower levels of government share powers
    with the central government or have certain powers
    of their own.
► Local   Government
   Exists in federal and unitary systems
   Oversees “day-to-day” municipal governing
► “Devolving”Government Powers from
 Central Governments to Lower Levels
           Topic in Countries
       of Government in the United
► Levels
 Kingdom, Germany, France, and India
   The UK: Despite significant devolution of
    powers to regions, remains a unitary state
   Germany: “Cooperative federalism” with
    significant powers for the Länder
   France: Unitary state divided into 26 regions;
    national and local governments linked through
    “prefects”
   India: Federal system (28 federal units), but
    the central government has strong powers
           Topic in Countries
       of Government in Mexico, Brazil,
► Levels
 and Nigeria
   Mexico: Federal system with 31 federal units
    (estados) and one federal district; estados
    dependent on central government for revenue
   Brazil: Federal system with 26 federal units
    (estados); more power for lower levels than in
    Mexico; preserves power of local elites
   Nigeria: Formerly an ethno-federal system; now
    more of an American-style federal system; provides
    a certain degree of cross-cutting identities among
    the otherwise complementary identity divisions
           Topic in Countries
       of Government in the Russian
► Levels
 Federation, China, and Iran
   Russia: Federal system; since Putin came to power,
    central government has increased its power versus
    the regions (which now number 83)
   China: Unitary state with 31 regions; some
    devolution, but still not a federal system
   Iran: Unitary state with 30 regions; powerful
    provincial leaders; central government has overseen
    “controlled decentralization”
            Comparative Exercise
 Major Policy Change and Veto Points in
      the United Kingdom and China
► Overview of Veto Points Concept
► Most Different Comparative Approach:
  Very Different Cases but Similar Dep. Vars.
► Hypotheses and Results
   Political Systems: Very different, but
    dependent variable similar across the two cases.
   Veto Points
     ►   Neither case had a large number of veto points.
     ►   Appears to be an important factor.

				
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