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Comparative Politics: Structures and Choices Chapter 6 By Lowell Barrington Political Systems and Their Rules This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law: • any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network; • preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, of any images; • any rental, lease, or lending of the program. 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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