CHAPTER 1: WHAT IS POLITICS?POLITICAL SCIENCEPOLITICAL THEORYCHAPTER 2: POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES(cont’d)
  • Politics is an ongoing competition between people, usually in groups, to shape policy in their favour

  • Politics is about the power to shape others’ behaviour (Niccolò Machiavelli)

  • Political science, on the other hand, is an objective method of analysing politics; a political scientist is different from a politician

  • The following theories come together to form political power

  • At different times in different situations, any one of them can explain power

THEORIES:

  1. BIOLOGICAL

  • “Man is by nature a political animal” (Aristotle; ‘zoòn polìtikon’)

  • Forming a political system and obeying its leaders are innate

  • Simple approach, but doesn’t explain why certain groups fall apart and disobey authority = humans are imperfectly political animals

  1. PSYCHOLOGICAL

  • Closely tied to biological theories

  • Most people are naturally conformists

  • Irving Janis (psych.): “many foreign policy mistakes are made in a climate of “groupthink”, in which a leadership team is adamant about its policies’ efficiency”

  1. CULTURAL

  • Cultural theorists dominated for most of the 20th century

  • Political culturalists believe that a country’s political culture is formed by religion, child rearing, land tenure, an economic development

  • Problems arise when the political system gets out of touch with the cultural system

  • Holds some optimism, as, if all human behaviour is learned, bad behaviour can be unlearned

  1. RATIONAL

  • People know what they want most of the time and have good reason for doing so

  • If governments become abusive, the people have the right and the rational capacity to dissolve them and start all over again (Lockean notion)

  • A political system based on the presumption of human reason stands a better chance of governing justly and humanely

  1. IRRATIONAL

  • People are emotional, dominated by myths and stereotypes, and politics is actually the manipulation of symbols; rationality is a myth

  • First practitioner: Mussolini (claimed that human behaviour is learned, not inherited)

POLITICIANS VS POLITICAL SCIENTISTS:

  • Love power ≠ are sceptical of power

  • Seek popularity ≠ seek accuracy

  • Think practically ≠ think abstractly

  • Hold firm views ≠ reach tentative conclusions

  • Offer single causes ≠ offer many causes

  • See short-term payoff ≠ see long-term consequences

  • Plan for next election ≠ plan for next publication

  • Respond to groups ≠ respond to the entire population

  • Seek name recognition ≠ seek professional prestige

  • The researchers of political science have viewpoints that mustn’t be biased, but:

  1. REASONED

  • Any findings that support the researcher’s political views must be discarded as biased

  1. BALANCED

  • Acknowledge other ways of looking at your topic

  1. SUPPORTED WITH EVIDENCE

  • Quantified evidence of natural sciences & qualitative evidence of humanity

  1. THEORETICAL

  • At a minimum, research should confirm or refute an existing theory

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THE SUBFIELDS OF POLITICAL SCIENCE

  1. U.S. POLITICS

  • Focuses on institutions and processes; includes parties, elections, public opinion, executive & legislative behaviour

  1. COMPARATIVE POLITICS

  • Examines politics within other nations to establish generalisations about institutions, political culture, and theories of democracy/policy

  1. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

  • Studies politics among nations, including conflict, diplomacy, international law and organisations

  1. POLITICAL THEORY

  • Both classic and modern; attempts to define the good polity

  1. PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

  • Studies how bureaucracies work and how they can be improved

  1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

  • Studies the applications and evolution of the Constitution within the legal system

  1. PUBLIC POLICY

  • Studies the interface of politics and economics to develop effective programs

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  • Political scientists seek to generalise, whereas journalists and historians seek to explain an event’s unique circumstances

  • There are several theoretical approaches to political science, as theories provide structure that give meaning to patterns of facts

THEORETICAL APPROACHES:

  1. BEHAVIOURALISM

  • Behaviouralists examine the “social bases” of politics, the attitudes and values of citizens; an example of their field of work is voting patterns

  • Their studies are time-bound and examine only what exists in a given moment

  • Post-behaviouralists (1969): are not afraid of numbers and happily use correlations, graphs, and percentages to make their cases

  1. NEW INSTITUTIONALISM (1980’s)

  • The behaviour and attitudes of the people living in a nation are shaped by government structures (legislatures, parties, etc.)

  • E.g.: the Communist parties of the Soviet bloc that endured because they guaranteed jobs

  1. SYSTEMS THEORY (postwar)

  • Devised by David Easton; diffuses the idea of looking at complex entities as systems, a concept that originates in biology

  • You cannot change just one component, because it would change the entire political system

  • Based on the idea of input (citizens’ demands) and feedback (authoritative decisions and actions), which do not exist in dictatorships

  • Problems: static and biased towards the status quo

  • Solution: the government originates most decisions, and the public reacts later; pressures from various parts of the government are called “withinputs”

  1. RATIONAL-CHOICE THEORY (1970’s)

  • Rational-choice theorists argue that one can generally predict political behaviour by knowing the interests of the actors involved because they rationally maximise their interests

  • Rational-choice theorists enrage other political scientists because they assume a critical, know-it-all position

  • Game theory: a branch of mathematics many rational-choice theorists subscribed to, and game theorists argue that constructing the proper game explains why policy outcomes are often unforeseen but not accidental

POLITICAL SCIENTISTS VS POLITICAL THEORISTS:

  • Study politics by trying to understand how things work ≠ study politics by trying to understand how things should work

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POLITICAL SCIENCE: ORIGINS

  • Plato used a normative approach in his “Republic”, wanting to know how things do work

  • Aristotle was the first empirical political scientist who went out to collect data and construct his “Politics”, which united descriptive and normative approach = he can be considered the founder of political science

  • Beginning of a tradition: a search for the source of a stable political system

  • Medieval/Renaissance political thinkers took a religious approach to the study of politics = wanted to discover the “ought” or “should”, not the “what is”

  • Niccolò Machiavelli introduced the focus on power with his great work, “The Prince” = he argued that to accomplish anything good, the Prince had to be tough and rational in the exercise of power

  • Two major theories blossomed:

  1. THE CONTRACTUALISTS (Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau)

  • They analysed why political systems should exist at all

  • The reason why is because humans had joined in what Rousseau called a “social contract” that everyone had to observe

  • THOMAS HOBBES: believed that life before the “social contract” was terrible, and that people rationally joined together to form civil society

  • JOHN LOCKE: the original state of nature was not so bad, and the “social contract” was formed to solve the problems of uncertain ownership through the introduction of property rights

  • JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU: believed that life in the state of nature was great, and that society corrupts individuals; the only way a society can operate justly is through a “social contract” that focuses on the “general will” (what everyone wants over and above the selfish “particular wills” of individuals and interest groups; can be seen as one of the roots of totalitarianism, as dictators tend to believe they know what the “general will” wants)

  1. MARXIST THEORIES

  • Karl Marx found the underlying cause that moves history forward in economics; his enduring contributions are:

  1. His understanding that societies are always riven with conflict

  2. That we must ask “who benefits?” In any political controversy

  • Marx produced a theory consisting of three main elements:

  1. THEORY OF ECONOMICS

  • The working class/proletariat is paid too little to buy all the products the workers have made, resulting in repeated overproduction, which leads to depressions

  • Eventually there will be a depression so big the capitalist system will collapse

  1. THEORY OF SOCIAL CLASS

  • Every society divides into two classes: a small class of those who own the means of production and a large class of those who work for the small class

  • Society is run according to the dictates of the upper class, which sets up the laws, arts, and styles needed to maintain itself in power

  • Most laws concern property rights, noted Marx, because the bourgeoisie (the capitalists) are obsessed with hanging on to their property, so if the country goes to war, said Marx, it is not because the common people wish it but because the ruling bourgeoisie needs a war for economic gain

  1. THEORY OF HISTORY

  • When the underlying economic basis of society gets out of kilter with the structure that the dominant class has established, the system collapses, as in the French Revolution and ultimately, he predicted, capitalist systems

  • An ideology can be seen as a plan to improve society; political ideologies are not political systems, but commitments to change them

  • Ideologues make very poor political scientists

  • Ideologies are important to citizens, because to fight and endure sacrifices, people need ideological motivation

  • Ideologues claim they can perfect the world, when reality is highly imperfect

  • Some ideologies include:

  1. LIBERALISM

  1. CLASSICAL LIBERALISM

  • Adam Smith founded classic laissez-fire economics with the publication of his “The Wealth of Nations”; he argued that the true wealth of nations is in the amount of goods and services their people produce

  • Smith reasoned that this was not the path to prosperity, and that government interference retards growth = by leaving the economy alone (laissez-faire), you promote prosperity

  • Smith also said that free competition unsupervised by the government will mot lead to chaos because the market itself (the “invisible hand") will regulate the economy

  • Liberalism: freedom from government interference

  1. MODERN LIBERALISM

  • By the late 19th century, it was clear that there was no Invisible Hand

  • Thomas Hill Green rethought liberalism and reasoned that its goal was a free society; modern liberalism brought the government back into the marketplace to protect people from a sometimes unfair economic system

  1. CONSERVATISM

  1. CLASSICAL CONSERVATISM

  • Edmund Burke was the founder; he agreed that a free market was the best economic system, but he criticised how liberalism had turned into radicalism thanks to the revolutionaries in France

  • Burke believed that the institutions and traditions that currently exist aren’t all bad, and that the best should be “conserved"

  • He believed change should happen, but only gradually

  1. MODERN CONSERVATISM

  • This is the ideological branch that had stayed true to Adam Smith's laissez-faire concept

  • Milton Friedman argued that the free market is still the best, and that wherever government intervenes, it messes things up

  • Market Fundamentalism: the assumption that markets are more efficient than government programs and would privatise many functions

  • Kept Burke’s concern for tradition

  1. SOCIALISM (19th century)

  1. THE ROOTS OF SOCIALISM

  • The socialists did not believe that a few reforms would help overthrow the capitalist system that created a growing gulf between the rich and the poor

  • Their leading thinker, Karl Marx, outlined his ideas in the 1848 pamphlet “The Communist Manifesto” and organised Europe’s first socialist parties

  • According to Marx’s predictions in his “Capital”, capitalism would be overthrown by the proletariat and followed by socialism, a just, productive society without class distinctions, which later would turn into communism, a perfect society without police, money, or government (Marxist utopia beyond socialism)

  • Marx, however, never specified what Socialism would be like, which has enabled a variety of socialist thinkers to put forward their own vision of socialism (welfarism, anarcho-syndicalism, etc.)

  1. SOCIAL DEMOCRACY

  • By now, the German Social Democrats (SPD) had become Germany's largest party and started succeeding, getting elected to the Reichstag and local offices

  • Eduard Bernstein, in his "Evolutionary Socialism”, developed the view that reforms that won concrete benefits for the working class could also lead to socialism, not just revolution (he was disparagingly called a revisionist)

  • By the 1920’s/1930’s, the Social Democrats had started working together with liberals and Catholics to try and save democracy

  • They were persecuted by the Nazis and revived after WWII: they dropped Marxism and transformed themselves into centre-left parties with no trace of revolution

  • Social democrats use welfare measures to improve living conditions, and social democracies have become welfare states (there's one catch: welfare states are terribly expensive, and taxes are thus quite high)

4) COMMUNISM

  • While the social democrats evolved into welfarists, a small wing of the original socialists stayed Marxist and became the Communists

  • The key figure in this transformation was Vladimir I. Lenin, who brought Marxism-Leninism to life

  • Marx had meant his theory to apply in the most advanced capitalist countries, not backwards Russia, which is why Lenin remade Marxism to fit the nation’s situation

  • Lenin also developed his theory of Imperialism, which stated that capitalism had transformed itself and was now expanding overseas into colonies to exploit their raw materials

  • Lenin saw revolutionary sparks in the newly-industrialised countries that were being exploited by the international capitalist system

  • In this way, Lenin shifted the Marxian focus to the global situation and the exploited nations rising up against imperialist powers

5) MAOISM

  • In the 1930’s, Mao Zedong concluded that the Chinese Communist Party had to be based on poor peasants and guerrilla warfare

  • After decades of fighting, the CCP took over mainland China in 1949

  • His extremist political agenda included a failed attempt at overnight industrialisation (The Great Leap Forward), the destruction of bureaucratic authority (The Proletariat Cultural Revolution) and border fighting with the USSR

6) TITOISM

  • Josip Tito, the Yugoslav party chief, was more moderate and liberal; he experimented with “middle ways” between capitalism and socialism

  • Agenda based on decentralisation, de-bureaucratisation, and worker self-management

  • Yugoslavia suffered economically and started coming apart after his death

7) NATIONALISM

  • The real “winner” among ideologies; born out of occupation and repression by foreigners

  • First appeared with the French Revolution

  • Nationalism arises when a population, often led by intellectuals, perceives an enemy or “other” to despise and struggle against

  • Can lead to wars and economic isolation, but ultimately depends on emotional appeals

  • A form of nationalism is regional nationalism

8) FASCISM

  • Nationalism grew into fascism in Italy and Germany in the 20th century

  • Sign of a fascist movement: members in uniforms

  • Most fascists pledge to “restore order” (see Mussolini and Hitler) and maintain a façade of togetherness in front of other nations

  • During Nazism, unemployment ended and many working people felt that life was good; but Hitler’s true aim was war

  • Today’s anti-immigrant and anti-EU parties are tinged with fascism (Hungary’s Jobbik party, for example)

-.-

IDEOLOGY TODAY:

  1. THE COLLAPSE OF COMMUNISM

  • Few people believed in Communism any longer by the 1980’s, while several West European Communist parties embraces “Eurocommunism”

  • President Mikhail Gorbachev offered a three-pronged approach to revitalising Communism: glasnost (media openness), perestroika (economic restructuring), and demokratizatzia (democratisation)

  • These attempts failed

  1. NEOCONSERVATISM

  • Irving Kristol described neoconservatives as “liberals mugged by reality”

  • Neocons were against the Great Society Programs introduced by Lyndon Johnson in the mid-1960's, claiming liberal programs have negative “unforeseen consequences"

  • Express more isolationist ideas and promote war to protect the U.S.

  1. LIBERTARIANISM

  • Don't believe in government interference in anything

  • They oppose subsidies, bureaucracies, taxes, intervention overseas, and the government itself

  • Some critics blame libertarian worship of unregulated markets for the reckless deals that produced the 2008 financial meltdown

  1. FEMINISM (started in the 1960’s with some female writers)

- The root problem of gender inequality is psychological (the patriarchy)

  1. ENVIRONMENTALISM (1960’s in advanced industrialised nations)

  • Their demands were partially satisfied with the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970

  • Consumption patterns and lifestyles should change

  • Green parties

CHAPTER 3: STATES VS NATIONSCHAPTER 4: CONSTITUTIONS AND RIGHTSCHAPTER 5: REGIMES(cont’d)
  • A nation is a population with a certain sense of self and a shared history/culture, while a state is a government structure that is usually sovereign and powerful enough to enforce its will

INSTITUTIONALISED POWER:

  • Political institutions are the working structures of government, such as legislatures and executive departments

  • Authority is fluid and requires constant maintenance; authority is partially solidified in the form of a political institution

  • Institutions take on a life independent from the people that run it, giving the political system stability

  • Institutions are bigger than political leaders, which is why dictators fail

EFFECTIVE, WEAK, AND FAILED STATES:

  1. EFFECTIVE

  • Control and tax their entire territory

  • Laws are mostly obeyed, and government looks after the general welfare and security

  • Corruption is minor, and elections are fair

  1. WEAK

  • Crime penetrates into politics

  • The government doesn’t have the strength to fight lawlessness, drug trafficking, etc.

  • Democracy is not practiced, elections are rigged, and little is collected in taxation

  1. FAILED

  • No national government

  • Warlords, militia, and drug lords rule; no law

  • Territorial breakup is imminent, and education/health standards plunge

UNITARY/FEDERAL SYSTEMS:

  1. UNITARY SYSTEM

  • Most governance radiates from the capital city and closely control local authorities and citizens’ lives

  • National police forces and court systems

  • Great centre-periphery tensions (regionalism) surged during the 1970’s because of the lack of local control (e.g.: Celtic Scots and Welsh vs Britain)

  • PROS: centralisation of power instils clear lines of authority and maximises coordination; education standards are high and uniform (Japan)

  • CONS: authority in unitary states can be absurdly centralised, producing political alienation (local government may not be able to install a traffic light or bus stop without permission from the capital)

  1. FEDERAL SYSTEM

  • The central government runs areas that are inherently national, giving first-order civil divisions more autonomy

  • The central government has control over foreign, defence, and monetary policy

  • The states control education, police, highways, and close-to-home affairs

  • Relies on a delicate balance

  • PROS: citizens are closest to their local governments, where they can influence how decisions are made

  • CONS: local governments may lack the money to finance programs, and their officials are incompetent and corrupt

ELECTORAL SYSTEMS:

  1. SINGLE-MEMBER DISTRICTS/FIRST-PAST-THE-POST (Anglo-American)

  • One member of Parliament/Congress is elected to represent the entire district by winning a plurality of the votes

  • Pushes interest groups and political factions to coalesce into two big parties (merge or lose)

  • PROS: centrality of the political system inhibits the growth of extremism, and parliamentary majority is clear, so no coalitions are necessary

  • CONS: parliamentary majority does not fairly reflect public opinion, and the winner takes all; gerrymandering is also an issue

  1. PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION

  • Based on multimember districts in which each district sends several representatives to parliament based on the number of seats entitled to it

  • Each voter picks one list of representatives, and the party gets seats in proportion to the votes it receives

  • The d’Hondt mathematical formula is used if there are any division issues

  • To minimise the presence of extremist parties, each party needs to win a certain percentage of the vote to have any seats at all

  • PROS: accurately reflects public opinion, and parties can articulate ideologies and principles more clearly

  • CONS: budding multiparty systems, and if the largest party falls short of half the seats in this system, it must form a coalition with other parties

STATES AND THE ECONOMY:

  • Another way to classify governments is how they handle the economy:

  1. THE LAISSEZ-FAIRE SYSTEM

  • The government owns little to no industry and redistributes little in the form of welfare programs

  • Follows Adam Smith; private enterprise and individual initiative make a nation free and prosperous

  1. A WELFARE STATE

  • Redistributes wealth to the less well-off and owns little or no industry

  • Sometimes known as “social democracies”; charge the world’s highest taxes

  • Industry is private and moneymaking

  1. STATISM

  • Called state capitalism; the state is the number 1 capitalist, owning and running much major industry, but providing few welfare benefits (Russia + China)

  • Small and medium business is private but competitive

  • State-owned firms, however, are largely run by bureaucrats and are inefficient

  1. A SOCIALIST SYSTEM

  • Practices both state ownership and extensive welfare benefits; exemplified by the USSR

  • Government owns nearly all the means of production on behalf of the “interests of society as a whole”

  • North Korea and Cuba

  • A constitution is a written document outlining the structure of a political system; it is the rules and customs by which a government is run

  • Many constitutions now also specify individual rights and freedoms, and this is a more recent thing (after WWII), and newer constitutions have remarkable detail

  • Constitutions also establish the forms, institutions, and limits of government and balance minority/majority interests

  • Political scientists study not what is written, but what is actually practised

  • Britain has no written constitution

WHY DO NATIONS ADOPT CONSTITUTIONS?

  • Nations adopt constitutions to establish a “supreme law of the land”; they are also extremely hard to revise (e.g.: the U.S. Constitution)

  • Judicial interpretation of a constitution/Judicial review (a fairly new phenomenon): constitutions cannot cover every problem that may arise, so most provide for a constitutional court to interpret the highest law in specific cases

  • The possibility of too subject an interpretation is a risk with judicial review

  • The courts do not always interpret the constitution in a consistent fashion:

  1. JUDICIAL ACTIVISM

Refers to a judge’s willingness to strike down certain laws and practises

  1. JUDICIAL RESTRAINT

When a Supreme Court sees its job not as legislating, but as following the lead of Congress

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  • Not all nations give their highest court the power to declare something unconstitutional; they reserve this for the legislature (such as in Britain)

CONSTITUTIONS AND CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT:

  • Constitutionalism means that the power of a government is limited; we see this in the Magna Carta, which merely limits the king’s power and safeguards the nobles’ rights

  • However, in modern, constitutionally governed nations, laws and institutions limit government to make sure that the fundamental rights of citizens are not violated

  • A totalitarian or authoritarian government is not limited by its constitution

THE PURPOSE OF A CONSTITUTION:

  1. A STATEMENT OF NATIONAL IDEALS

  • They indicate the values, ideals, and goals of those who drafted the documents (in preambles)

  • Constitutions state national ideals, but the interpretation of these goals and values requires some decisions

  1. FORMALISATION OF THE STRUCTURE OF THE GOVERNMENT

  • A constitution also defines the authority and limits the powers of each branch, providing for regularised channels through which conflict may be resolved

  • Constitutions also outline the division of power between central/regional/local governments

  1. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE LEGITIMACY OF THE GOVERNMENT

  • A constitution may also give a government the stamp of legitimacy

  • Most constitutions are written shortly after major changes of regime in a constituent assembly

CAN CONSTITUTIONS ENSURE RIGHTS?

  • Rights and liberties are difficult to define, and all nations restrict civil liberties in some way (e.g.: minority groups)

  • We have, however, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, patterned on the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen and the American Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights

  • Rights such as freedom of assembly, expression, movement, etc., however, are almost impossible to enforce

THE ADAPTABILITY OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION:

  • Constitutions are modified by traditions, new usages, and laws, and they need flexibility to adapt over time

  • An example of the changing nature of the U.S. Constitution is the Right to Bear Arms: in 2008, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the 2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms was an individual right, and that strict gun laws introduced in the past violated this right

  • The Founding Fathers wanted to prevent any concentration of power that might flow from a standing national army (militia clauses), and the 2nd Amendment of the Bill of Rights bolsters this by saying: “a well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”

  • But is there also an individual right to guns, apart from belonging to a militia? A two-century-old constitution will be reinterpreted in response to new conditions and cases

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN THE U.S.:

  • According to the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law (…) abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

  • According to Justice Holmes, freedom of expression must also be restricted in cases in which statements or publications present a “clear and present danger” of bringing about “substantive evils,” which Congress has a right to prevent

  • Therefore, the 1st Amendment has limits, and some argued that recently, free speech has gone too far (hate speech, racism, pornography, etc.)

FREE SPEECH AND SEDITION:

  • Sedition is, by definition, heavy criticism of the government or officials aimed at producing discomfort or rebellion

  • The U.S. government has used sedition laws to suppress radical expression, such as the first Sedition Act in 1798 (aimed at the “Jacobins”, who were American defenders of the French Revolution during the U.S.’s undeclared naval war with France), and the Civil War Sedition Act (Lincoln used his war powers to suppress Northern opponents of the war, who argued that “it’s a rich man's war and a poor man's fight”)

  • Stringent legislation against Communist subversion was another example of sedition laws (the 1940’s Smith Act, and the McCarran Act of 1950 in the McCarthy era after WWII)

  • Another example of legal restrictions of human/civil rights is what happened under the Bush administration after 9/11 (harsh, unlawful interrogation of terrorist suspects by means of torture)

  • The classification of a country as a democracy or as a dictatorship is blurry

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY

  • Democracy does not always equal freedom, as elections can also produce what is called illiberal democracy

  • Democracy is a complex and carefully balanced system that needs thoughtful citizens, limits on power, rule of law, and human/civil rights

  • Some direct democracies take on issues the legislature won’t handle through referendums

  • Although referendums seem very democratic, their sponsors can oversimplify and manipulate issues

  • Direct democracy is difficult to carry out because of the size factor (millions of voters), and representative democracy evolved as the only workable system

  • Democracy today is: “A political system which supplies regular constitutional opportunities for changing the governing officials, and a social mechanism which permits the largest possible part of the population to influence major decisions by choosing among contenders for political office.”

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY AND POLITICAL COMPETITION:

  • In a democracy, the policymakers must obtain the support of a majority or a plurality of votes cast, and no one has an inherent right to occupy a position of power

  • Some systems permit reelection, which is the people’s means of expressing support and of controlling the general direction of government policy

  • Voters must have a choice of either candidates or parties, each of which tries to distinguish its ideology and policies

  • In America, citizens have the choice of two candidates, one for each major party

  • The parties must have time and freedom to organise and present their case well before elections

  • Much of democracy depends on the political freedoms in the months/years before the actual balloting takes place

  • Elections ≠ democracy

ALTERNATION IN POWER AND UNCERTAIN ELECTORAL OUTCOMES:

  • A system in which the ruling party stays in power for many decades cannot really be democratic; two electoral alternations of government indicate that democracy is firmly rooted (this is Samuel Huntington’s “two-turnover test”)

  • An important function of alternation in power is control of corruption

  • Democratic elections must have an element of uncertainty

POPULAR REPRESENTATION AND MAJORITY DECISION:

  • In representative democracies, the voters elect representatives to act as legislators and voice/protect their general interest

  • Mandate theory: some theorists claim that legislators must treat elections as mandates to carry out constituents’ wishes

  • Joseph Schumpeter argued against the mandate theory that: “Our chief problems with the classical (democratic) theory centred in the proposition that ‘the people’ hold a definite and rational opinion about every individual question and that they give effect to this opinion—in a democracy—by choosing ‘representatives’ who will see to it that the opinion is carried out.”

  • Representative democracy, therefore, means that the people as a body must be able to control the general direction of government policy

  • In a democracy, if minority views are silenced, the will of the majority becomes the “tyranny of the majority”

RIGHT OF DISSENT, POLITICAL EQUITY, AND POPULAR CONSULTATION:

  • People must have the right to resist the commands of government they deem wrong or unreasonable

  • Civil disobedience is an individual act of conscience, but some people, such as Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., seek to organise and mobilise it

  • In theory, all are able to run for public office, but critics point out that it takes a great deal of many/specific racial or religious ties to really enter public ties

  • The media has helped create a dialogue between people and leaders

  • Intelligent leaders realise that they must neither get too far ahead of political opinion nor fall too far behind it

FREE PRESS:

  • One of the quickest ways to determine the democracy in a country is to see if the media criticise government

  • Without a free and critical press, rulers can disguise wrongdoing and corruption

DEMOCRACY IN PRACTICE:

  • Even if these democratic criteria are met, political power will still not be evenly distributed

  • Political scientists see this unevenness of power as normal and unavoidable, as elites will always make the actual decisions

  • There are:

  1. ELITE THEORISTS

Those who argue that elites are little accountable; they are usually radicals who decry rule by elites as unfair and undemocratic. Elite theorists view society as a single pyramid with a tiny elite at the top.

  1. PLURALISTS

Those who argue that elites are ultimately accountable; they point out that most politicians are of modest origins, and few are from wealthy families. They say that politics functions through interest group that protests or demands something. Pluralists view society as many billiard balls colliding with each other and with government to form policy.

  • Both of these views are overdrawn, and a synthesis that more accurately reflects reality might be a series of small pyramids, each capped by an elite; this is called the Polyarchy Model

TOTALITARIANISM:

  • In totalitarian systems, elites are almost completely unaccountable

  • There is little totalitarianism (a term coined by Mussolini’s supporters) left today (except for North Korea)

  • By definition, totalitarianism is a system in which one party holds total power and attempts to restructure society in accordance with party values

  • Totalitarian states have six features:

  1. AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING IDEOLOGY

Totalitarians push an official theory of history, economics, and future political and social development.

  1. A SINGLE PARTY

One party totally dominates politics, led by one man who establishes a cult of personality.

  1. ORGANISED TERROR

Security police use both physical and psychological methods to keep citizens obedient.

  1. MONOPOLY OF COMMUNICATIONS

The media in totalitarian states are strictly censored to sell the official ideology and show the system is working well under wise leaders.

  1. MONOPOLY OF WEAPONS

Governments of totalitarian nations have a complete monopoly on weapons, thus eliminating armed resistance.

  1. CONTROLLED ECONOMY

Totalitarian regimes control the economy.

AUTHORITARIANISM:

  • Authoritarian regimes are governed by a small group (usually a dictator or the army) that minimises popular input

  • Many economic, social, religious, cultural, and familial matters are left up to individuals

  • Authoritarian regimes rarely have a firm ideology to sell

  • The main types of authoritarianism are:

  1. MILITARY (Mauritania, Niger)

  2. PERSONALISTIC (Uzbekistan, Venezuela)

  3. TRADITIONAL MONARCHY (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait)

  4. DOMINANT-PARTY (Russia, Zimbabwe)

  5. SINGLE-PARTY (China, Cuba)

  • Authoritarian regimes limit individual freedoms in favour of a hierarchical organisation of command, obedience, and order

  • Some trappings of democracy may exist for appearance’s sake

  • Rigged elections confirm the rule of the dominant party; opponents have no chance, and some are arrested

  • The media and academia practice informal “self-censorship,” avoiding critical comments in order to keep their jobs

  • Their selling points are economic growth and rising living standards, and most citizens accept them and show little interest in democracy

  • Government officials push wasteful, unrealistic projects, stifle individual initiative by regulations and taxes, and crush critical viewpoints

  • Corruption stunts economic growth

  • DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AUTHORITARIAN + TOTALITARIAN REGIMES = Authoritarian regimes can reform, but once a Totalitarian system takes over, the system cannot reform itself; Totalitarianism attempts to do this by asserting total control over the lives of its citizens, whereas authoritarianism prefers the blind submission of its citizens to authority

THE DEMOCRATISATION OF AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES:

  • As countries improve from poor to middle income, they become ready for stable democracy (this is why democracy seldom lasts in poor countries, although India is an exception)

  • The democratisation of authoritarian regimes can actually be seen as a process:

  1. Economic growth creates a large middle class who want to reform the system (but not overthrow it)

  2. Education levels rise, and people no longer fall for demagogues, extremist ideas, or vote buying

  3. People become increasingly capable of recognising their ideas and expressing them

  4. The market teaches citizens about self-reliance, pluralism, tolerance, and not expecting too much (all attitudes that sustain democracy)

  • This transition does not work with petrostates (such as Saudi Arabia) because oil exports contribute to the fact that the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of few retards democracy

  • What’s more, the oil industry doesn’t employ many workers, and citizens are dependent on the government for jobs and handout and do not form an autonomous middle class

  • The attempts of Mikhail Gorbachev to reform the Communist system shows the role of poor economic growth in Communist regimes, which eventually led to Gorbachev admitting the faults in the system, and the system collapsing

CHAPTER 6: POLITICAL CULTURECHAPTER 7: PUBLIC OPINIONCHAPTER 8: POLITICAL COMMUNICATIONCHAPTER 9: INTEREST GROUPS
  • The political culture of a nation is the collection of beliefs, symbols, and values about the political system, and is a sort of collective political memory; it defines the situation in which political action takes place

  • Political culture looks for general, basic values on politics and government

  • Political culture is rather volatile (although it changes slower than political opinions), as periods of stability and economic growth solidify feelings of legitimacy, while unstable periods are reflected in weakening legitimacy

  • E.g.: America’s political culture was founded on the basis of “competitive individualism”

  • Political opinion, on the other hand, is the sum of views about specific leaders and policies that answer to current questions

  • Political opinion, if held long enough, turns into political culture (e.g.: public opinion on Vietnam was followed by a decline in confidence in the U.S. government)

  • E.g.: a public opinion survey might ask if you think the president is doing a good job

THE RULE OF ANTICIPATED REACTIONS

  • Leaders know that if the public’s interest in politics is aroused, they can vote them out of office at the next election

  • Following the rule of anticipated reactions, leaders in democracies form policies based on how they think the public will react; leaders are mostly happy to let sleeping dogs lie

  • A democratic culture, therefore, does not necessarily require heavy voter turnout; it is the potential and not the actual participation that makes a democratic culture

THE DECAY OF POLITICAL CULTURE

  • The political cultures of most of the advances democracies have recently grown more cynical, and voter turnout has declined (e.g.: Vietnam War)

  • Recent development: America’s “culture wars” and polarisation between conservatives and liberals

  • According to Francis Fukuyama, trust, or “spontaneous sociability” underpins economic growth and stability (low-trust societies = not prosperous)

  • Political culture changes because it responds to government performance, which almost always falls short of promises

ELITE AND MASS SUBCULTURES

  • Elites in political-culture studies means those with better education, higher income, and more influence; they are much more interested in politics and are generally more participatory, meaning elites are more inclined to vote, protest injustice, and run for office

  • This means that most politically active citizens are not always very representative of the general public, which is a standard worldwide

  • However, this means that those at the bottom of the social ladder become apathetic

  • The right to vote is a mere starting point for political participation and does not guarantee equal success in decision-making

MINORITY SUBCULTURES

  • Defining subculture is actually quite tricky, as not every group is a subculture

  • African-Americans do form a political subculture, however, sharply diverging from caucasian voters also due to factors such as racism and racial inequality

  • Subcultures may dislike being ruled by the dominant culture and become separatists (e.g.: the Basques of northern Spain)

  • If a nation doesn’t attempt to integrate its subcultures into the mainstream, it may seek independence in later years (see the Tamils of Sri Lanka)

POLITICAL SOCIALISATION

  • Political socialisation teaches political values and specific usages, influencing our behaviour for decades through:

  1. SCHOOLING

Most government use history to inculcate children with pride and patriotism. The amount of schooling also affects political attitudes.

  1. PEER GROUPS

Friends and playmates also form political values, and the relative strength of peer-group influence appears to be growing. Family socialisation can be reinforced by peer groups who see the world similarly.

  1. THE MASS MEDIA

In a household with conservative parents and conservative neighbours, the children may also be exposed to conservative messages on Fox News.

  1. THE GOVERNMENT

Many government activities are intended to explain or display the government to the public, always designed to build support and loyalty.

  • Public opinion refers to political and social issues, not private matters

  • So-called public opinion often involves several small, conflicting groups, plus many who are undecided and an even larger number with no interest or opinion on the matter

  • Public opinion is an array of diverse attitudes that can change quickly, and can often show widespread ignorance

  • Public opinion, however, is important in democracy because public-opinion surveys may fill in the details so officials know what people think about specific problems, such as healthcare or war

  • Public opinion can even matter to an undemocratic regime, where leaders ignoring it can be overthrown

  • Public opinion can be led or manipulated by interest groups

  • Public opinion is volatile and changes quickly under the impact of events, or if pollsters ask questions the respondents know nothing about

  • A common public opinion poll regards how the president is handling his job; an early high public approval often comes when the president's team is the least experienced and less able to take advantage to achieve the president's goals (presidents seldom leave office as popular as they were during their first year)

MEASURING CLASS

  • Social class matters in public opinion, and it can be measured in two general ways:

  1. THE OBJECTIVE WAY

An objective determination asks people their annual income or judges the quality of the neighbourhood.

  1. THE SUBJECTIVE WAY

The subjective determination simply asks respondents what their social class is, which sometimes diverges from objective criteria.

HOW CAN PUBLIC OPINION ACTUALLY BE SHAPED?

  1. CLASS

Different political attitudes grow up around different jobs; class matters, especially in combination with other factors, such as region or religion.

  1. EDUCATION

Education level is related to social class, and this contributes to polarisation. Rising education costs prevent others from joining the educated classes, slowing social mobility.

  1. REGIONS

A country’s outlying regions usually harbour resentment against the capital, creating what are called centre-periphery tensions. Regional memories can last for centuries, and once a region gets set in its politics, it will stay that way for a long time.

  1. RELIGION

Religion contributes a great deal to the structuring of opinion and can either mean denomination or religiosity. One of the biggest divisions in Catholic countries is between clericalists and anti-clericalists. Religion also tends to overlap with ethnicity.

  1. AGE

There are two theories on how age affects political opinions: the life cycle and generation theories. The first, widely accepted, holds that people change as they age. Thus, young people are naturally radical and older people moderate or even conservative.

This life cycle theory does not always work because sometimes whole generations are marked for life by the great events of their young adulthood. Survivors of wars and depressions remember them for decades, and they colour their views on war, economics, and politics. Sociologist Karl Mannheim (1893–1947) called this phenomenon political generations.

  1. GENDER

Even before the women’s movement, gender made a difference in politics. Traditionally, and especially in Catholic countries, women were more conservative, more concerned with home, family, and morality. But as a society modernises, men’s and women’s views change.

  1. RACE AND ETHNICITY

Race and ethnicity are related to region and religion but sometimes plays a distinct role, especially in the multiethnic United States, where some ethnic groups form political subcultures. America was long touted as a “melting pot” of immigrant groups, but ethnic consciousness lasts many generations.

  1. ELITE AND MASS OPINION

There is often a gap between elite and mass opinion. The mass public does not understand much about complicated issues but can react after decisions have been made. Elites, educated and influential people, usually have more complex and sophisticated perspectives. The masses often misunderstand and resent decisions. They know what hits them in the pocket book or infringes on their basic values and may lash out at perceived unfairness.

PUBLIC-OPINION POLLS

  • Public opinion polls or surveys are designed to measure opinions so that we can say the results are reflective of a broader population

  • Debate: do the polls give undue attention and influence to uncertain opinions? Do the opinions people express really reflect how they feel about issues?

  • There are limits to what we can learn from the public’s opinion, and policymakers must balance what they learn from polls with their own knowledge about the issues

POLLING TECHNIQUES

  1. SAMPLING FROM A POPULATION

A pollster first has to decide whose opinions they want the survey to represent. Generally, polls are only interested in the opinions of adults, not kids. But not all adults’ opinions are of equal importance. Often, pollsters are only interested in the adults likely to vote in an upcoming election. Then they would be interested in the opinions of registered voters, or an even more select group: likely voters. The people the poll results represent is the population.

The most basic way to create a representative sample is through a simple random sample. Imagine drawing names out of a hat with everyone in the population’s name in it.

  1. REACHING THE SAMPLE

The next step is to get the people in the sample, known as respondents, to answer the pollster’s questions. Surveying respondents in person is very expensive because of travel costs and is rarely used anymore in the United States. In developing countries where phones and computers are rare, in-person surveys may be the only possible way to do a survey. The most common type are phone surveys.

  1. ASKING THE QUESTIONS

The unbiased wording of questions to avoid slanting responses is also important. A slight difference in wording greatly shifts responses.

  • The mass media strongly influence politics

  • The political system and the communication system parallel one another; it is doubtful that one could exist without the other

  • Face-to-face communication is the most basic and effective type of communication for altering or reinforcing political opinions because it allows for dialogues, whereas mass media cannot

  • Until the 1930’s, face-to-face communication was the main method of political campaigning

  • The mass media reach an infinitely larger audience and therefore yield a greater voter/public-opinion return than face-to-face communication

  • Television not only transmits direct political messages, but also indirectly changes society by bringing news and ideas into the homes of all

  • Today, only 1/3 of the general population watch television news/read newspapers, and news is shifting from politics and world affairs to human interest or “news you can use" about health, business, and lifestyles

  • The more educated individuals are, the more media they consume

  • There are different types of modern mass media:

  1. NEWSPAPERS

The use of newspapers has drastically declined since the early 1900’s. Unlike newspapers, however, blogs share not tradition of neutrality and are often wildly partisan (more activism than journalism). Some fear the demise of objective reporting.

  1. RADIO

Like newspapers, radio, too, has declined. Popular “talk radio” shows, often hosted by angry right-wingers, reinforce conservative views, while liberal radio magazines offer perspectives on world events, economics, politics, etc.

  1. THE NEWS SERVICE

Until recently, the wire services’ definition of news has been something from an official source. Today, the AP (Associated Press) in New York is in financially difficulty because citizens have no incentive to buy information when they can reach it online for free.

  1. THE ELITE MEDIA

The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times are read by a small fraction of the U.S. population, but they carry by far the most clout. Decision makers in Washington read them and take both their news stories and editorials seriously. Leading thinkers fight battles on their “op-ed” pages (opposite the editorial page). That is why these papers have influence out of all proportion to their circulation. They are the elite media because the people who read them are generally wealthier and better educated and have much more influence than readers of hometown papers. The elite press pursues “investigative reporting,” looking for government and partisan wrongdoing, something the average paper shuns for fear of lawsuits.

SOCIAL MEDIA

  • The political impact of the Internet and social media is growing; the Internet has drastically lowered the cost of entering the media world, and thousands now own their own online magazines (highly partisan)

  • Thoughtful synthesis is not the Internet’s strong point, although digital media can undermine undemocratic regimes

  • Digital media’s unique feature that can support democratic participation is that it involves a two-way flow of ideas

THE GIANT TELEVISION

  • On the world scene, the news media wait for something to blow up before they cover it; television tends to concentrate on “good visuals”

  • TV reporters are not always equipped to explain historical background or long-term consequences

  • This is also the public's fault, however: few

  • With television, penetrating analysis is out, and the catchy phrase is in:

  1. TELEVISION NEWS

Television news is hooked on the eye-catching and is inherently a more emotional medium than the others; its coverage can go straight to the heart. Television, however, needs to know in advance what's going to happen, and only then can it schedule a camera crew. Analysis is also not television’s strong point, as an average news story runs one minute.

  1. TELEVISION BY POLITICS

Television changed politics in several ways. In the U.S., for example, the president is seen as an omnipotent parental figure, a person who can fix everyone's problems, thanks to how the television paints him to be.

  1. NOMINATION BY TELEVISION

In the nominating process, television has become a king-maker, so candidates arrange their schedules and strategies to capture as much television exposure as possible. Increasingly, candidates raise funds through their own team and use television to speak directly to voters.

  1. TELEVISION AND APATHY

People born before WWII are more trusting and more inclined to join groups and participate in politics. His reason was that they were raised before the television age that began in the 1950’s. Younger people who were raised on the television lack these qualities.

A related charge is that television saturates viewers so far in advance of elections that they lose interest. This leads to indecision and apathy.

  1. TELEVISION OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL

For European nations, national control of electronic communications is as normal as state ownership of the railroads due to their traditions of centralised power and government paternalism. The U.S. government, on the other hand, exercises the least control of communications of any industrialised country.

THE MEDIA AND THE GOVERNMENT

  • In the U.S., media coverage is highly selective, concentrating on some areas while ignoring others (civil service and state governments); furthermore, there are national and local media, but not state media

  • The role of the press as critic in a democracy has long been recognised

  • In the late 1960's and 1970’s, a new adversarial relationship between media and government emerged that still persists today due to events such as Vietnam and Watergate

  • An interest group or an advocacy group is a body which uses various forms of advocacy in order to influence public opinion and/or policy

  • An example of well-funded interest groups influencing politics are super-PACs

  • The theory behind interest groups argues that, on your own, even in the finest democracy, you can do little

  • Some interest groups are transient, others permanent; some focus on influencing a particular policy, others on broad changes

  • They are all non-publicly accountable organisations that attempt to promote shared private interests by influencing public-policy outcomes

  • In some cases, interest groups serves citizens better than most political parties

  • SIMILARITIES WITH POLITICAL PARTIES: both try to influence public policy, but interest groups do it outside of the electoral process and are not responsible to the public

GOALS OF INTEREST GROUPS

  • Interest groups usually focus on specific programs and issues and are rarely represented in the formal structure of the government; instead, they try to influence legislators and executives

  • They often seek the favour of both political parties (such as economic groups)

  • Political parties seek broad support to win elections and draw many interests into their ranks

  • While there is a limit in political parties, there is no limit on interest groups

  • In a pluralist democracy, a multiplicity of interest groups push their own claims and viewpoints, creating a balance of opposing interests that, in theory, prevents any one group from dominating the political system

  • Interest groups tend to overrepresent the better-off since the less educated are slow in forming groups to promote their interests

INTEREST GROUPS AND GOVERNMENT

  • Interest groups try to influence government, and not all of their activity is good or peaceful

  • Once government is funding something, the groups that benefit develop constituencies with a strong interest in continuing the programs

  • Some interest groups participate in government legislation and implementation

  • Example of an interest group: Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac (both underwrite home loans and encourage home purchases/construction)

BUREAUCRATS AND INTEREST GROUPS

  • A bureaucracy is the structure and set of rules that control the activities of people that work for large organisations and government; it is characterised by standardised procedure (rule-following), formal division of responsibility, hierarchy, and impersonal relationships

  • Bureaucracies, in a way, have become big and powerful interest groups; much legislation originates in specialised agencies

  • Bureaucracies develop interests of their own and demand bigger budgets every year for their project

  • The more government = the more interest groups

  • The existence of interest groups is also conditioned by the degree to which government permits/encourages the open interplay of groups (pluralism)

EFFECTIVE INTEREST GROUPS

  • Interest groups tend to flourish in pluralistic societies that have traditions of local self-governance and of forming associations, and people have a greater sense of political competence and efficacy

  • The U.S. has been reluctant to limit spending for campaigns because:

  1. STRONG EMPHASIS ON FREEDOM

  2. CAMPAIGNS ARE LONGER AND MORE EXPENSIVE

  3. NO SET FORMULA FOR PUBLIC FINANCING

  • Soft money from interest groups is the real funding behind campaigning

  • The U.S.'s long and complex electoral system is the root cause

SINGLE-ISSUE GROUPS

  • With interest groups, the right issue can mobilise millions

  • Example: Pro-Life Movement and the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)

  • The socioeconomic status of interest groups members gives groups clout

  • Once an interest group has established a stable and receptive relationship with a branch of government, it is said to enjoy structured access

  • Not every interest group has access (African Americans and Native Americans)

INTEREST GROUP STRATEGY

  • Lobbying in the United States describes paid activity in which special interest groups hire well-connected professional advocates, often lawyers, to argue for specific legislation in decision-making bodies such as the United States Congress

  • Big Tobacco, for example, routinely blocks antismoking legislation

  • Strategy:

  1. The interest group turns to administrators (e.g.: an antipollution group seeks tighter definitions of clear air)

  2. Interest groups employ tactics such as personal contacts, research, public relations, courts (e.g.: the death penalty), and, in the case of corrupt public officials, money

  3. With court intervention, interest groups initiate suits directly on behalf of the people whose interest they represent (class actions), or they file a "friend of the court" brief (amicus curiae) in support of a person whose cause they share

  4. Organised interests often take their case to the public with (sometimes) peaceful appeals

  5. Other interest groups maintain a low profile and promote their objectives without revealing themselves (the Tobacco Institute)

  6. Only some interest groups receive free advertising (the Heart Fund), and disadvantaged groups may hold demonstrations to publicise their cause

  7. A group that loses faith in conventional political channels may see violent protest as its only alternative

CHAPTER 10: PARTIESCHAPTER 11: ELECTIONSCHAPTER 12: LEGISLATURES(cont’d)
  • Political parties serve as links between citizens and government as a means to input citizens’ demands into the political process

  • They can be classified on an ideological spectrum that ranges from far left to far right

  • There are multiple types of party systems that can be classified based on the number of parties in the system, which can be affected by the electoral rules of a specific state

  • Parties help citizens be heard and feel that they have a mechanism for affecting policy

  • Parties also increase the legitimacy of government because this connection between citizens and the government is a rubber stamp of democratic policy

  • Parties serve to aggregate diverse interests in society into larger interests, increasing the loyalty of these new groups to the political system

  • Also serve as agents of socialisation by helping members learn to navigate through politics

  • No party can ever totally control government

PARTIES IN DEMOCRACIES

  • Parties can be on either spectrum of centrality, which affects the amount of control that the party leadership can exercise over its members:

  1. CENTRALISED

Centralised parties control the election lists and place loyal party members at the top of the list of ensure their election to parliament (e.g.: Israel).

  1. DECENTRALISED

Decentralisation leads to a decrease in coherence; the candidates are much more independent of the parties, which has contributed to rifts and splits in the U.S., for example.

GOVERNMENT POLICY

  • Parliamentary systems grant that it is far more successful for the majority to enact its legislative agenda than in presidential systems

  • This is because the government is the majority, and the majority must resign if they cannot muster enough votes to pass their agenda

  • European systems are much conductive to responsible party government, which is when the majority presents a clear legislative proposal and then acts to pass it

  • The U.S. is fraught with very expensive campaigns and corruption

CLASSIFYING POLITICAL PARTIES

  • A useful way to classify parties is by placing them on the ideological spectrum:

  1. LEFT-WING PARTIES

Generally want to nationalise major industries.

  1. CENTRE-LEFT PARTIES

Favour welfare states.

  1. CENTRIST PARTIES

Generally liberal on social issues, but conservative on economics.

  1. CENTRE-RIGHT PARTIES

Want to rein in the welfare state in favour of free enterprise.

  1. RIGHT-WING PARTIES

Want to dismantle the welfare state and break the power of labor unions.

  1. FAR-RIGHT PARTIES

Are generally nationalistic and anti-immigrant.

  1. COMMUNIST PARTIES

The classical Communist party structure of Lenin favoured the interlocking of a single party with the economic system of the state; the economy was not directly ruled by the party, though.

PARTY SYSTEMS

  • Party systems are the interactions of several parties with each other, and they can be classified based on the number of parties that exist within a system:

  1. ONE-PARTY SYSTEMS

  • Totalitarian and authoritarian regimes

  • Single party controls everything and is the only legal party

  • When allowed, citizens repudiate one-party systems

  1. DOMINANT-PARTY SYSTEMS

  • Dominant party controls television and offers incentives to supporters

  • Opposition parties are deliberately kept weak

  1. TWO-PARTY SYSTEMS

  • Two parties each have a fair chance of winning

  • Third-parties exist only to remind the two main parties of voter discontent

  1. MULTIPARTY SYSTEMS

  • Several political parties compete; this can sometimes be unstable

  1. TWO-PLUS PARTY SYSTEMS

  • Two major parties plus a third party that is competitive and relevant

  1. FLUID PARTY SYSTEMS

  • Parties rise and fall quickly

  • Often personalistic parties that have no ideology

THE PARTY SYSTEM AND THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM

  • The single most important factor in determining a party system is the electoral system of the country; changing a country’s election laws can change the party system:

  1. Single-member district systems tend to produce two-party or two-plus party systems (only a plurality is needed to win, and this encourages them to avoid fragmentation)

  2. Multimember districts tend to use proportional representation systems

  • An election is a way people can choose their candidate or their preferences in a representative democracy or other form of government

  • For many, critical realignment theory understands electoral history to be cyclical, with each cycle beginning with a critical election

  • The theory of electoral realignment, however, is subject to a range of criticisms, as candidates and parties can deploy a range of strategies when attempting to win elections

  • Why don’t some people vote in the U.S., for example?

  1. Many citizens feel that their vote doesn’t make a difference

  2. Citizens feel there is a lack of quality candidates

  3. No interesting or clear-cut choices are made due to the nature of the two-party system

  4. Negative television advertising turns voters off by the end of the election cycle

  • Americans tend to vote less than Europeans because of the lack of simplicity of the ballots and the registration process

  • In most democracies, the average voters are:

  1. Middle-aged

  1. Better educated

  2. Urban

  3. Likely to identify with a political party

INCOME AND EDUCATION

  • Voter turnout is affected by both income levels and education levels — the higher your education level, the more likely it is that you will make more money

  • Efficacy is much higher for citizens who are professionals and much lower for those in the working class

  • Today, education as a predictive factor of voting behaviour means less than it used to, as voter turnout has declined

WHO VOTES HOW?

  1. PARTISAN IDENTIFICATION

The attachments that citizens feel towards a party for. along time will influence how a citizen votes in elections. A person's party identification is heavily influenced by their parents, and people will usually adopt the party ID held by their parents. Party identification is important in helping to ensure electoral stability.

  1. CLASS VOTING

People will support political parties based on how they perceive their social class. Two things that muddy class voting are working-class people who vote for conservative parties due to self-identification as middle-class. Class voting is not as accurate of a predictor of voting behaviour, but is still relevant.

  1. REGIONAL VOTING

Some regions identify strongly with certain parties, especially in states that have a core/periphery struggle.

  1. RACE AND ETHNICITY

People of colour tend to be left-leaning.

  1. RELIGIOUS BLOCS

Those who identify as religious are more likely to be conservative and vote for Republicans or right-wing parties.

  1. AGE GROUPS

Young people who socialised to politics during an event that changed their political culture will stick with their political party for most of their life.

  1. GENDER GAP

Women used to be more conservative in the past, but are now leaning towards more liberal political parties.

  1. MARRIAGE GAP

Unmarried people are much more likely to vote for left-wing parties than married people, who tend to be traditionalists.

  1. SEXUAL IDENTITY GAP

Citizens with sexual identities that diverge from heterosexuality tend to vote for left-leaning parties that don’t implement policies limiting or discriminating their freedoms.

  1. URBAN VOTING

Big cities tend to vote for strongly liberal or left-leaning parties.

ELECTORAL REALIGNMENT

  • According to this theory, certain watershed elections lead to voters dissolving long-term partisan identifications in favour of new ones

  • Many political scientists would like to “throw out” this theory

  • The problem with this theory is that:

  1. It applies only to presidential elections

  1. Americans sometimes choose to vote for a divided government

  2. Presidents such as Clinton and Obama were victorious from economic standpoints, which undermined the entire theory

WHAT WINS ELECTIONS?

  • In modern elections, the rational choice of voters is heavily manipulated by candidate personality and the mass media; it is the image that leaders present that matters in a visual society

  • Campaigns in the U.S., for example, tend to be media-intensive, depicting campaigns through:

  1. The Jingle Clip (attention-grabbing)

  1. The Ideological Clip (depicts ideas in images)

  2. The Allegorical Quip (candidates are depicted as epic heroes)

RETROSPECTIVE VOTING

  • Retrospective voting occurs when citizens vote based on their overall evaluation of the incumbent's performance

CANDIDATE STRATEGIES AND VOTER GROUPS

  • Candidates want to avoid alienating their home base and want to win swing/independent voters

  • This is why candidates in the U.S. focus on close, battleground states in the Electoral College

  • A legislature is a group of people who vote for new laws, for example in a state or country

  • The Parliament is a legislative body of the government and has 3 general functions:

  1. Represent the electorate

  2. Make laws

  3. Oversee the government via hearings and inquiries

  • Parliaments have their origins in the early struggles to limit the power of absolutist monarchs

  • Parliamentary vs Presidential systems: in parliamentary systems, power is dispersed and allows for different units to be represented in the legislative branch

  • Political institutions become more differentiated and complex as they become more modern

  • Before modern times, the basis of Parliaments (such as the French, British, and Swedish parliaments) lied in the exchange of money between nobles and monarchs in return for influence on royal policy (the “power of the purse”)

  • According to John Locke, the Parliament is the most basic and important institution, while Montesquieu believed that the only way to ensure liberty was to divide government into two branches

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PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM

Here, the head of state is weak, symbolic, and distinct from the head of government. Citizens only vote for the legislature, not for the chief of government. The government is directly responsible to the majority in the legislature and the government can fall if the majority does not support its policies.

  1. Voters elect Parties and members of Parliament (coalition)

  2. The Parliament has the power to elect/oust the Prime Minister

  3. The Cabinet (a committee of parliament that oversees the formulation and implementation of government policy), on the other hand, guides the Ministries

Advantages:

  1. Cannot suffer from deadlock; what the majority wants the majority gets, because the executive and legislative branches are controlled by the same party

  1. If there is a disagreement, a no-confidence vote can occur, which means no long, drawn-out political drama, which makes removing executives easier (no-confidence votes are rare though in most parliamentary systems nowadays)

Disadvantages:

  1. Votes in parliament can be closely predicted due to high levels of party discipline

  1. Can be prone to coalition governments, which can be less stable in maintaining the coherence of the government

  2. Parliamentary systems can be prone to immobilism because coalitions can get stuck over the same issues, which can lead to an inability to decide major issues

PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM (a minority)

Shows a clear separation between legislative and executive branches. The President combines the roles of head of state and head of government. Presidents are not responsible to the legislature for their power or their term of office and as a result they are extremely difficult to remove from office.

  1. Voters elect the parliament

  1. Voters then elect the President

  2. The President chooses the Cabinet and the Ministries/Departments

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SEPARATION AND FUSION OF POWERS

  • The American system of separation of powers sets branches of government against each other and is an invitation to struggle

  • Some scholars think that executive-legislative deadlock is common in presidential systems, as competing parties will control different branches of government at different times with no direct responsibility to each other

  • European systems that developed after the United States are more modern and are based on the principle of fusion of powers

BICAMERAL OR UNICAMERAL?

  • Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature divided into two separate assemblies, chambers, or houses, known as a bicameral legislature (effectively divides governing power)

  • Unicameralism is the practice of having a single legislative or parliamentary chamber

  • The main reason many states favour bicameralism is that, in a federal system, the upper house represents component parts (such as states or provinces; their overall utility is unclear), while the lower house represents districts based on population

THE COMMITTEE SYSTEM

  • Most important bills originate in the government/administration

  • Most of the power of legislatures lies in the committee system, which can make or break legislative proposals

  • Committees look at the way that government functions; identify issues that require review; gather and evaluate information; and make legislative recommendations

  • Committees are critical to the ability of a legislature to function

  • Public hearings are a mechanism for getting citizen and interest group input on legislation (such as in the U.S.), and committees screen bills to help determine which ones are worthy of consideration

WHAT ARE LEGISLATURES TODAY?

  • Legislatures are reactive institutions, as they respond to the initiatives of others, as opposed to proactive institutions that initiate proposals; thus, lawmaking is not the most important thing that legislatures do

  • They also:

  1. Supervise and criticise the government (e.g.: the British Question Hour)

  2. Education (e.g.: the televised Fulbright committee hearings in Vietnam)

  3. Representation (people need to feel as if the legislature represents them)

  • While John Locke believed that legislatures would be the most important party of government, legislatures no longer work the way he thought they would

  • Political scientists argue that expectations for the importance of Parliament were actually too big to begin with

  • Parliamentary systems are very efficient in passing legislation but their very institutional nature makes them predictable and boring institutions

  • By contrast, in the U.S. system, Congress is more important and lively than most other legislatures, but the U.S. system of separation of powers is also contributing to the decline of Congress because of conflict between the two houses in the legislative branch and partisan conflict within the houses themselves

OVERSPENDING

  • All legislators want to spend money on their own interests that are linked to reelection

  • In the U.S., Congress has tried to impose limits on spending but they have been less than successful; imposed spending caps were routinely ignored

PROBLEMS WITH LEGISLATURES

  1. INCOMPREHENSIBLE LEGISLATION

Legislation cannot be short and simple because modern society is complex, but practically nobody can understand it.

  1. LACK OF EXPERTISE

Because most legislators are not technical experts in matters of policy there is a lack of expertise in most legislative branches. This is not necessarily a bad thing as there is value in a citizen legislature. However, a lack of expertise leads to a heavy reliance on experts from the executive departments, which diminishes the independence of the legislative branch.

  1. PSYCHOLOGICAL DISADVANTAGES

Citizens are more impressed with presidents and prime ministers than legislatures. Parliaments are seen as groups of people who simply squabble with each other.

THE ABSENTEE PROBLEM AND DECLINE OF PARLIAMENTS

  • Most of the time, members of legislature are not present in the chamber; members are only really needed to vote, and often not even then

  • What explains absenteeism is:

  1. WORKLOAD

Legislators might be busy doing other things, such as constituency work, fundraising, etc.

  1. LAZINESS

Some legislators might just be lazy.

  1. LACK OF TURNOVER

Many members become career, lifetime politicians who are reelected as often as they like, which means little new blood or fresh ideas.

THE DILEMMA OF PARLIAMENTS

  • In the end, parliaments suffer from a dilemma that is well illustrated by the recent post-Soviet experience in Russia: Russia needed reforms, but there was deadlock as Yeltsin wanted to go one way and the the Duma preferred a different course of action

  • Putin "solved" the problem by forming his own party, which now controls 2/3 of the Duma seats

  • Parliament is responsive to the president and there is no longer deadlock, but Russia is also no longer a democracy

CHAPTER 13: EXECUTIVES AND BUREAUCRACIES(cont’d)CHAPTER 13: JUDICIARIES(cont’d)

EXECUTIVES

  • The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding responsibility for the governance of a state

  • The head of state is theoretically the top leader, but the duties are largely symbolic and serve more to represent the nation as a symbol of unity

  • The chief of government is the real working executive and has meaningful political power within the system

  • In the U.S., the President is both the head of state and the chief of government, while in Italy, on the other hand, the head of state is Sergio Mattarella, while the chief of government is Mario Draghi

  • In parliamentary systems, the chief executive is indirectly elected by the national legislature from its own ranks

  • Prime ministers are responsible to parliament and are secure in their seats if they represent a majority party, which means that the prime minister’s strength is dependant on the stability of his or her majority in parliament

  • Presidential systems bypass this by having a strong president who is not responsible to parliament and is elected separately for fixed terms

  • Citizens expect chief executives to solve all the problems in the state but the reality is that executives cannot (and often do not) solve all the problems, which leads to disappointment among citizens

  • The terms of executives vary between presidential and parliamentary systems:

  1. PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEMS

Presidential terms are fixed and in some cases limited in total numbers of terms that can be served, which makes presidents harder to remove from office.

  1. PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEMS

Prime ministers have no limit on their tenure in office as long as their party continues to win a majority in parliament. Prime ministers have an advantage in that they can dissolve parliament when it is most convenient in electoral terms for their party and hold new elections, which helps ensure that they can retain their majority in parliament. However, prime ministers can be ousted quickly if they lose the support of the majority.

TYPES OF EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIPS (there is a middle ground)

  1. HANDS-ON

Trying to supervise and manage nearly all aspects of their administration; however, with this approach, executives scatter and exhaust themselves.

  1. HANDS-OFF

Little supervision where authority is mostly delegated. However, here executives let important issues slide.

OTHER STATES AND THEIR SYSTEMS

  • Political scientists have noted the trend of the presidentialisation of prime ministers; this tendency is strong in Britain and Germany

  • In these situations, the personality of the PM is beginning to matter more than policy, party, or ideology

  1. GERMANY

The German parliamentary system is built around the idea of constructive no-confidence. The German chancellor is as strong as British PM in terms of setting policy and running cabinet.

One major difference between the two is the mechanism for removal. The German chancellor can only be ousted by a constructive vote of no-confidence, which is an attempt to avoid the parliamentary instability of the Weimar Republic. Executives in a constructive no-confidence vote system are stronger than those without.

  1. FRANCE

France's system is “semi-presidential” and combines a working prime minister with a chancellor. Russia and China have similar systems. If both the president and the prime minister are from the same party there is no problem, as the president appoints a PM from his or her party and the parliament approves.

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BUREAUCRACIES

  • Bureaucracy is the structure and set of rules that control the activities of people that work for large organisations and government; organisations in the public and private sector, including universities and governments, rely on bureaucracies to function

  • Another definition of bureaucracy is “permanent government”, as they are inherently conservative and hard to change

  • Bureaucracies vary considerably between states, and due to their nature, they can become pathological in terms of how they function and make decisions

  • The problem with bureaucracies is that it is often connected with corruption, Eichmannism (the defence of "Just doing my job”) and Parkinson’s Law (the amount of work required adjusts to the time available for its completion)

  • Most nations now have bureaucrats who make public policy and are not publicly accountable

  • According to German sociologist Max Weber, bureaucracies have specific characteristics, as they:

  1. Operate under rules and procedures

  2. Are organised into a hierarchy

  3. Provide rationality, uniformity, predictability, and supervision to government

  • The main problems with bureaucracies are:

  1. Red tape is the existence of complex rules and procedures that must be followed to get something done

  2. Conflict exists when some agencies work at cross-purposes with other agencies (e.g.: the Agricultural Research Service tells farmers how to grow crops more efficiently, while the Agricultural Stabilisation and Conservation Service pays farmers to grow fewer crops)

  3. Duplication occurs when two government agencies seem to be doing the same thing, such as when the Customs Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration both attempt to intercept illegally smuggled drugs

  4. Imperialism refers to the tendency of agencies to grow without regard to the benefits their programs confer or the costs they entail

  5. Waste occurs when an agency spends more than is necessary to buy some product or service (an example would be the much-publicised purchase of $300 hammers by the military)

BUREAUCRACIES IN DIFFERENT STATES

  1. THE UNITED STATES

Bureaucrats in the United States are powerful and may be more important in innovating laws than the public or Congress. A good example of this is cigarette package warning labels, which was a policy initiative that came from the bureaucracy.

Another source of bureaucratic power is that in the United States, departments carry out unclear laws and interpret the meaning and intent of those laws during the implementation process. Bureaucrats have a lot of knowledge, and that knowledge is power.

  1. COMMUNIST COUNTRIES

The Soviet Union was one of the world's most bureaucratic states and it was the cause of its undoing. In this the Soviet state was ironic because Marxist theory maintained there was no need for Western-style bureaucracy, but it was quickly implemented by Lenin and increased by Stalin. Five-year economic plans for directing the economy were a clear effort at using the bureaucracy to manage and direct the entire Soviet economy.

This privileging mechanism made the Soviet bureaucracy very conservative by nature, as the best and brightest were recruited into the bureaucracy and then resisted changes that would affect their positions.

  1. FRANCE

During the 17the and 18th centuries, Napoleon made the bureaucracy even more rational and effective, drawing on the model set forward by Richelieu. French bureaucrats are trained at the "Great Schools" that emphasise specialised training. The power of French bureaucracy was increased due to the instability of the Third and Fourth Republics. As a result France is heavily bureaucratised and extremely centralised.

  1. GERMANY

The German bureaucracy bears the stamp of the Prussian state nobility called Junkers, who controlled almost all civil service positions in Prussia and brought Prussian values, including loyalty to the state, to German administration, following unification under Bismarck.

Following the war, as Germany rebuilt democracy, there has been a strong commitment by German civil servants to democracy and democratic values. A final distinctive feature of German bureaucrats is that they tend to have the mentality of Roman law, neatly organised and fixed into codes.

  1. BRITAIN

The United Kingdom has strong traditions of local self-government and dispersion of power, which has encouraged legislative control of administrative authority. Central government did not begin to run things until the twentieth century. In 1870, a merit-based civil service using competitive exams was established to fight corruption.

British ministers are accountable to parliament but real power is in the hands of the career "permanent secretary" and other career bureaucrats.

  1. JAPAN

Japan provides an extreme example of “rule by bureaucrats”, a situation in which the bureaucrats are more powerful than, and often have a great deal of contempt for, elected officials.

The Japanese bureaucracy was based on the French model, so the bureaucracy was always powerful, and it became more powerful after World War II. The long-term economic stagnation in Japan has contributed to a new generation of Japanese politicians trying to reform bureaucracy, but there has been little success.

  • There are many types of law:

  1. CRIMINAL LAW

Modern criminal law is largely statutory and covers a specific category of wrongs that are considered social evils and threats to the community. Consequently, the state, rather than the victim, is the prosecutor, or plaintiff. Offences are usually divided into three categories. Petty offences, such as traffic violations, are normally punished by a fine.

Serious but not major offences such as gambling and prostitution are misdemeanours, punishable by larger fines or short jail sentences. Major crimes, felonies, such as rape, murder, robbery, and extortion, are punished by imprisonment.

  1. CIVIL LAW

Many statutes govern civil rather than criminal matters. Civil law provides redress for private plaintiffs who can show they have been injured. The decisions are in dollars, not in jail time. Private individuals, not the state, conduct most civil litigation.

  1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

Written constitutions are usually general documents. Subsequent legislation and court interpretation must fill in the details. Constitutional law (indeed, law itself) is not static but a living, growing institution. The Constitution had not changed, but society’s conception of individual rights did.

  1. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW

A relatively recent development, administrative law covers regulatory orders by government agencies. It develops when agencies interpret statutes, as they must. The federal government now codifies administrative regulations, and they fill many volumes.

  1. INTERNATIONAL LAW

International law (IL) consists of treaties and established customs recognised by most nations. It is different because it cannot be enforced in the same way as national law: It has some judges and courts, but compliance is largely voluntary. IL is generally observed because it is in the interests of most countries not to break it. IL’s key mechanisms are reciprocity and consistency. Countries like being treated nicely, so they must extend the courtesy to others.

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THE COURTS, THE BENCH, AND THE BAR

  • Judicial systems are always hierarchical with different courts having specific jurisdictions:

  1. THE U.S. COURT SYSTEM

The U.S. court system consists of 51 judicial structures:

  • The national system (comprising the federal courts)

  • Fifty state systems

The federal system overlaps that of the states. The federal courts hear many cases in which the issue is one of state laws but the parties are residents of different states, the so-called “diversity jurisdiction.” Also, of course, they hear cases concerning federal laws. Conversely, issues of federal law (constitutional or statutory) may first arise in state courts. The Supreme Court of the United States can review the state court’s judgment on a federal question.

Each of the fifty states has its own court systems, and they handle 90% of the nation's legal business. Most of their cases are civil, and these local courts operate without juries. Most of their penalties are fines or short jail sentences.

JUDGES

  • There are two types of judges:

  1. FEDERAL JUDGES

Nominated by the President; must be approved by the Senate. To free them from executive and political pressure, they may serve for life unless impeached. Some federal judges owe their appointments to party affiliation, but most are well qualified.

There is also a tradition known as senatorial courtesy where a president defers to a senator’s choice from his party when there is an opening for a judicial district in the senator’s state. The opposition party accuses the president of trying to fill the bench with incompetent partisans and often tries to block confirmation.

  1. STATE JUDGES

State judges are either popularly elected or appointed, for terms ranging up to fourteen years. Both parties often nominate the same slate of judges so that the judicial elections have become largely nonpartisan.

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THE ANGLO-AMERICAN ADVERSARIAL AND ACCUSATORIAL PROCESS

  • English and American courts are passive institutions that do not look for injustices to correct or lawbreakers to apprehend

  • Instead, they wait until a law is challenged or a defendant is brought before them. The system operates on an adversarial and accusatorial basis:

  1. In the adversary process, two sides (plaintiff and defendant) compete for a favourable decision from an impartial court. Courts do not accept a case that does not involve a real conflict of interest; the plaintiff must demonstrate how and in what ways the defendant has caused damage

  1. During the trial, the judge acts as an umpire. Both parties present their evidence, call and cross-examine witnesses, and try to refute each other’s arguments

  2. The judge rules on the validity of evidence and testimony, on legal procedures, and on disputed points

  3. After both sides have presented their cases, the judge rules on the basis of the facts and the relevant law. If a jury is hearing the case, the judge instructs its members on the weight of the evidence and relevant laws and then almost always accepts the jury’s verdict

  • In n criminal cases, the police investigate and report to a public prosecutor, often a county’s district attorney, who must decide whether to prosecute

  • The actual trial proceeds like a civil one, but the government is the plaintiff and the accused the defendant

  • Unless a jury has been waived, the jury determines guilt under instructions from the judge on laws and facts

  • The weakness of this system is that the decision often goes to the side that can hire the best attorney

BRITISH COURTS

  • British judges are nominally appointed by the monarch, but the choice is really the prime minister’s, based on recommendations of the lord chancellor, who presides over the House of Lords and is usually a cabinet member

  • British judges have lifetime tenure and are above politics; the British judiciary is not supposed to be a coequal branch of government

  • In Britain, the government hires lawyers to prosecute crimes, and there are no professional prosecutors like U.S. district attorneys

  • Barristers: British solicitors who handle all legal matters except representing clients in court

EUROPEAN COURT SYSTEMS

  • Based heavily on the French system, European courts, unlike British courts, do not have separate criminal and civil divisions, but maintain separate systems of regular and administrative courts

  • European judges sit as a panel to rule on points of law and procedure, but at the conclusion of the trial they retire with a jury to consider the verdict and the sentence

  • In code-law countries, judges play a more active role than in common-law countries

  • The prosecutor (French procureur, German Staatsanwalt) is an official who forwards evidence to an investigating judge (juge d’instruction, Ermittlungsrichter), a representative of the justice ministry who conducts a thorough inquiry (enquête), gathering evidence and statements

  • Unlike the Anglo-American system, these European magistrates first make a preliminary determination of guilt before sending the case to trial

  • In European criminal procedure, the decision to indict is made not by a district attorney but by a judge, and the weight of evidence is not controlled by the adversaries (plaintiff and defendant) but by the court, which can take the initiative in acquiring needed evidence

  • In code-law countries, the accused bears the burden of having to prove that the investigating judge is wrong, while in an American or British court, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and the defendant need not say one word in his or her defence

RUSSIAN COURTS

  • In 1991, a Constitutional Court with fifteen justices was established, the first independent tribunal in Russian history

  • In practice, Russian presidents have so much power that the court is no counterweight to the executive

  • Newly rich biznesmeny and siloviki (strong men) hire keelers to remove anyone in their way, including members of parliament, journalists, and the competition

  • Soviet law started with Marx’s idea that law serves the ruling class

  • Proletarians, theoretically in power in the Soviet Union, had socialist law to protect state property, which belonged to all society

  • Especially after the relaxation of Stalin’s climate of fear, theft of state property became the norm for Soviet economic life and helped bring down the system

  • Some political cases never came to trial, and innocent people were locked up

THE ROLE OF U.S. COURTS

  • The U.S. Supreme Court’s power to review the constitutionality of federal legislative enactments is not mentioned specifically in the Constitution and has been vehemently challenged (it was challenged for the first time at the Constitutional Convention of 1787

  • Strong-willed presidents have resisted the authority of the Court

  • In recent years, conservative justices have mostly favoured restraint, though that was not always true

  • The Supreme Court’s rulings often become political issues, which is rarely the case in other countries

  • The U.S. Supreme Court plays an important political role, and the appointment of just one new justice changes split decisions

  • Clearly, justices’ personal convictions influence their decisions

  • The first woman justice was appointed only in 1981; now there are three

  • They are older, averaging close to 70

  • Southern jurists have usually been more conservative on racial matters, though one of the strongest champions of civil rights was Alabama’s Hugo L. Black, who had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan in his youth

  • The two most important influences on voting, however, seem to be party affiliation and the justice’s conception of the judicial role

  • Changing public attitudes also influence Supreme Court justices

THE SUPREME COURT'S POLITICAL IMPACT

  • It is said that the Court overturned “the established law of the land” and implemented its “personal political and social philosophy”:

  1. CIVIL RIGHTS

In a unanimous ruling of 1954, the Court accepted the sociological argument of Thurgood Marshall (then attorney for the NAACP) that segregated public school facilities were “inherently unequal” because they stigmatised African American children and deprived them of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.

  1. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

The Warren Court’s rulings in criminal procedure included Mapp v. Ohio (1961), wherein the Court ruled that evidence police seized without a warrant was inadmissible in a state court. In 1963, in Gideon v. Wainwright, the Court held that indigent (having no money) defendants must be provided with legal counsel.

  1. LEGISLATIVE REAPPORTIONMENT

Equally important was the Warren Court’s mandating of equal-population voting districts. Until 1962, many states had congressional districts that overrepresented rural areas and underrepresented cities. The Warren Court overthrew Jim Crow laws, rewrote the rules for criminal procedure, and redrew legislative maps. With the possible exception of the Marshall Court, it was the most active, groundbreaking Court in U.S. history.

  1. POST-WARREN COURTS

  • The most controversial ruling of the century declared abortion was protected by the right to privacy in Roe v. Wade (1973), which came from the “conservative” Burger Court (with the chief justice concurring). The Burger Court in the 1978 Bakke case found that reserving quotas for African American applicants to medical school violated equal protection for whites.

  • The next year, however, in Weber, it found that quotas to help African American workers attain skilled positions were constitutional. In criminal law, the Burger Court issued some hard-line decisions. In 1984, it added a “good faith exception” to the Mapp rule, which excluded wrongfully seized evidence

CHAPTER 15: POLITICAL ECONOMYCHAPTER 16: VIOLENCE AND REVOLUTIONSCHAPTER 17: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
  • Political economy is a social science that studies production, trade, and their relationship with the law and the government

  • The notion of political economy takes a leaf fro Aristotle, who viewed government, society, and the economy as one thing

  • Old political economists had normative orientations, and in the late 19th century, they dropped “political” from the name of their discipline and shifted to empirical description/prediction

  • Moreover, political economy is the interface between politics and the economy

ECONOMICS

  • Economics undergirds almost everything in politics

  • With a growing economy, a country can afford new welfare measures

  • With a slow economy, an administration has to run massive deficits and devise policies to spur economic growth

  • A 1936 book by British economist John Maynard Keynes proposed to cure depressions by dampening the swings of the business cycle; during bad times, government would increase “aggregate demand” by “countercyclical spending” on public works and welfare to make recessions shorter and milder

  • After the 2008 financial meltdown, many economists quickly rediscovered Keynes

GOVERNMENT AND THE ECONOMY

  • What are some of our leading economic problems and government responses to them?

  1. INFLATION

Inflation is the decline of purchasing power of a given currency over time. A quantitative estimate of the rate at which the decline in purchasing power occurs can be reflected in the increase of an average price level of a basket of selected goods and services in an economy over some period of time.

  1. TAX HIKE

A tax hike is the amount by which taxes are increased; “a tax increase of 15%”. An example is when President Johnson was reluctant to ask for a tax increase to pay for Vietnam for two reasons. First, he had just gotten a tax cut through Congress in 1964; it would have been embarrassing to reverse course the following year. Second, he did not want to admit that he had gotten the country into a long and costly war.

By the time Johnson and Congress had changed their minds and introduced a 10% tax surcharge in 1968, it was too late; inflation had taken hold.

  1. BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

This is the value of what a country exports compared with what it imports.

  1. FLOATING THE DOLLAR

A floating exchange rate is a regime where the currency price of a nation is set by the forex market based on supply and demand relative to other currencies. This is in contrast to a fixed exchange rate, in which the government entirely or predominantly determines the rate.

  1. WAGE-PRICE FREEZE

Wage-price control sets government guidelines for limiting increases in wages and prices. It is a principal tool in incomes policy. Nixon, for example, froze wages and prices to knock out inflation.

  1. OIL SHOCKS

International oil deals, like most international trade arrangements, were made with U.S. dollars. The dollar’s loss in value meant that the oil exporters were getting less and less for their black gold. The price of oil in the 1960’s was ridiculously low. As a result of the 1973 Mideast war, the members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) were able to implement what they had been itching to do: quadruple oil prices. In 1979, in response to the revolutionary turmoil in Iran, they increased prices again.

  1. STAGFLATION

Stagflation is a combination of slow growth plus inflation in the U.S. economy in the 1970’s. The manifold increase in petroleum prices produced inflation everywhere while simultaneously depressing the economy.

  1. INTEREST RATES

An interest rate is a percentage charged on the total amount you borrow or save. If you're a borrower, the interest rate is the amount you are charged for borrowing money – a percentage of the total amount of the loan. You can borrow money to buy something today and pay for it later.

  1. TAX CUTS

The term “tax cuts” can seem a little confusing because it's a broad term that covers a wide range of situations that result in a lower amount of tax collected by the government. The one thing all tax cuts have in common is that they change a preexisting tax law or implement a new one that effectively reduces the amount of tax you have to pay.

Again trying to stimulate the economy, President Reagan turned to an approach called “supply-side economics,” which focuses on investment and production rather than on consumer demand, as Keynesian policy does.

  1. BUDGET DEFICITS

A budget deficit occurs when expenses exceed revenue and indicate the financial health of a country. The government generally uses the term budget deficit when referring to spending rather than businesses or individuals. Accrued deficits form national debt.

  1. TRADE DEFICITS

A trade deficit occurs when a country's imports exceed its exports during a given time period. It is also referred to as a negative balance of trade (BOT). The balance can be calculated on different categories of transactions: goods (a.k.a., “merchandise”), services, goods and services. Balances are also calculated for international transactions—current account, capital account, and financial account.

  1. GOVERNMENT DEBT

Government debt, also known as public interest, public debt, national debt and sovereign debt, contrasts to the annual government budget deficit, which is a flow variable that equals the difference between government receipts and spending in a single year. The debt is a stock variable, measured at a specific point in time, and it is the accumulation of all prior deficits. Government debt can be categorised as internal debt (owed to lenders within the country) and external debt (owed to foreign lenders).

13) FISCAL CLIFF

The fiscal cliff refers to a combination of expiring tax cuts and across-the-board government spending cuts that create a looming imbalance in the federal budget and must be corrected to avert a crisis.

14) INEQUALITY

Since the 1970’s, Americans’ incomes have grown less equal and the middle class smaller. The rich get a bigger slice of the nation’s economic pie; the poor and much of the middle class get smaller pieces. Those with the right education and skills may do well, but those with a high-school education or less do poorly.

15) BUBBLES

Financial markets tend to produce “bubbles,” fast growth in investments that let people ignore risk—until the bubbles pop. Some economists blame alternating manias and panics, both heavily psychological, what Keynes called the “animal spirits” of investor irrationality. He urged government intervention to dampen both.

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WHAT IS POVERTY?

  • Defining poverty can be tricky, as what’s “poor” currently might have been “comfortable” in previous eras

  • Liberals complain that the poverty line is set much too low; it can take two to three times that to survive in big cities, as rent and child care are now bigger items than food

  • Conservatives point out that poverty figures do not include non-cash benefits transferred to the poor by government programs — food stamps, for example

WELFARE VS ENTITLEMENTS

  • The federal budget is divided into:

  1. DISCRETIONARY

Can be raised or lowered from year to year. Congress, for example, may decide to increase defence spending and cut highway spending.

  1. MANDATORY

Cannot be so easily changed; it is what the federal budget is stuck with from previous statutory commitments. Mandatory spending in turn is divided into interest payments on the national debt and entitlements; together they are around half of the federal budget.

  • Entitlements are extremely difficult to cut because people are used to them and expect them as a right; they are payments to which one is automatically entitled by law

  • Only a small fraction of federal payments is traditional “welfare” spending

  • Some people argue that if we eliminated “welfare” spending we could cut taxes, but “welfare” makes up such a small share of the budget that government spending would be affected very little and cuts would inflict hardship on society’s most vulnerable members, especially children

THE COSTS OF WELFARE

  1. FOOD STAMPS

The Food Stamp program was implemented nationwide under Johnson in 1964. The Carter administration simplified the program in 1977 by eliminating the provision that recipients buy the stamps at a discount with their own money. This policy had meant that the absolutely destitute could get no food stamps.

The Food Stamp program became bigger than expected, but fraud and waste have not been major factors. Only a few recipients sold food stamps at 50 cents on the dollar to buy liquor and drugs, and all food stamps are now debit cards, which fights the fraud problem.

  1. WELFARE REFORM

The 1996 reform signed by President Clinton replaced entitlement-type welfare payments with block grants to the states to spend fighting poverty as they saw fit. Recipients had five years to get off welfare. Many states developed workfare programs that required recipients to either take jobs or training.

  1. HEALTHCARE REFORM

At least two factors induce exponential growth in medical assistance: more people become eligible and medical costs soar. Medicare is especially expensive, for all get it upon reaching age sixty-five, even rich people.

Hospitals and doctors, once they are assured of payment, have no incentive to economise. When in doubt, they put the patient in the hospital — at $1,000 and more a day — and order expensive tests. Some hospitals expanded into medical palaces, and some physicians got rich from Medicare and Medicaid. Washington tried various ways of tightening up, but medical costs continued to climb.

HOW BIG SHOULD GOVERNMENT BE?

  • The American welfare state is small compared with that of other advanced industrialised countries = should it get bigger?

  • The American answer, rooted in its political culture, is to keep government small and to suspect and criticise the expansion of government power

  • But we also recognise that we need government intervention in the economy, education, energy planning, environmental protection, and health care

  • The rash of political violence in the 1960’s changed that perspective and led to the argument that political systems do decay and break down over time; this decay is often marked by riots, civil wars, terrorism, coups, and authoritarian governments

  • Breakdowns begin when legitimacy erodes; legitimacy is the feeling by citizens that government should be obeyed

  • Generally, legitimacy erodes as government shows that it is ineffective in solving the myriad of problems

  • Political violence does not necessarily mean that a revolution is near, and in fact, often government takes steps to avoid a revolution once political violence manifests

  • Violence can be:

  1. PRIMORDIAL

Grows out of conflicts between basic communities. There are multiple examples, including conflict between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda.

  1. SEPARATIST

Aims at independence for the groups in question. It can sometimes be an outgrowth of a primordial conflict, like Tamil separatism in Sri Lanka and how Bengali independence from Pakistan led to the creation of Bangladesh.

  1. REVOLUTIONARY

Revolutionary violence aims at overthrowing or replacing existing regimes. It is important to remember that revolutions seek to completely get rid of existing elites (e.g.: the Arab Spring).

  1. COUPS

Coups are usually aimed against revolution, corruption, and chaos and are almost always conducted by the military. Occasionally, they are indirectly supported by key sectors of society. Coups usually involve little violence, at least initially, but can turn violent if the military senses opposition.

  1. ISSUES

Political violence that falls into this category is generally less violent than other forms of political violence. Examples of this might include the globalisation and austerity protests that have recently occurred.

  • Political violence can be sparked by the changes a country experiences as it goes through modernisation

  • Economic change is often the most unsettling, and economic improvement can be just as unsettling as economic decline for people during this transition period

  • Other societal changes can spur unrest as well, such as shifts from subsistence to commodity farming, population growth, outdated political systems, and rising education levels that expose citizens to new ideas such as freedom and democracy

TERRORISM

  • Terrorism is a strategy to weaken a hated authority and it is not a new phenomenon, contrary to the perception of many Americans

  • Terrorism is a group activity, and individual acts of violence, even if they are political in nature, do not qualify as a terrorist activity

  • There is some cause for concern because it really is only a matter of time before a terrorist group can develop a nuclear incendiary device

  • Another type of terrorism is state-sponsored terrorism, which occurs when states support the actions of terror groups around the world

  • The good news is that Islamic terrorism is declining due to backlash from terrorist activities

REVOLUTIONS

  • Revolutions are quick, dramatic system changes that throw out the existing elites

  • Many of the revolutions that saw the end of communist systems of governance in Eastern Europe were peaceful, such as the velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia and South Africa

  • Revolutions do not just occur, they require organisations through which to focus frustrations

  • Intellectuals are important for revolutions because they provide the organisation

  • A revolution has several stages:

  1. THE OLD REGIME DECAYS

First the old regime decays as administration breaks down, taxes increase, and citizens no longer believe in government.

  1. THE FIRST STAGE

The first stage of revolution occurs as committees, conspiracies, networks, and cells form, committed to overthrowing the old regime. A catalyst event occurs. The initial takeover is usually easy because government has essentially put itself out of business.

  1. MODERATES TAKE OVER

These are people who are connected with the old regime, but who oppose it, take over and initiate moderate, non-radical reforms.

  1. EXTREMISTS TAKE OVER

The moderates’ reforms are not enough for extremists, who drive the revolution to a high point where everything old is thrown out and the revolution goes mad

  1. A “THERMIDOR” ENDS THE REIGN OF TERROR

The “cooling off” period; often a dictator who resembles the original tyrants takes over to restore order.

REVOLUTIONS AROUND THE WORLD

  1. AMERICAN REVOLUTION

Some scholars argue it was not really a revolution because it did not remake society and that in effect it was an example of separatist violence, a war of independence and not a revolution. Hannah Arendt disagreed, arguing that the U.S. Revolution was a revolution and may be the only complete revolution in history because the old system of tyranny was replaced by new system of democracy

  1. FRENCH REVOLUTION

Most people agree about the ideas that guided the revolution but acknowledge that the revolution went wrong, which led to bloodshed and tyranny.

  1. RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

Most scholars now believe that Lenin was just as ruthless and bloodthirsty as Stalin and that Lenin was wrong from the start.

  1. VIETNAMESE REVOLUTION

The Vietnamese revolution went astray as after the war, the communist government turned Vietnam into one of the world's poorest countries.

  1. CUBAN REVOLUTION

Castro continued to proclaim his regime revolutionary even though most citizens are over the shortages and restrictions. Under Raul Castro, reform seems possible.

  • In the world, there is no global sovereign power over nations to get them to obey laws and preserve peace

  • Sovereignty means being the boss on your own turf, and this is a dominant force within a country

  • However, just because a nation is sovereign doesn’t mean it can control its own turf (e.g.: Ukraine: ethnic Russian fighters with Russian arms seized Crimea and eastern Ukraine)

  • Furthermore, small, weaker countries are routinely dominated and influenced by larger and more powerful countries

  • Within a sovereign entity, there is law

POWER AND NATIONAL INTEREST

  • Lacking sovereignty, IR depends a lot on power: A gets B to do what A wants

  • Power is a country's more general ability to get its way and includes military, economic, political, cultural, and psychological factors; the best kind of power is rational persuasion

  • In International Relations, if you know a country’s interest, you can understand much of its behaviour

  • A diplomat’s work is in finding and developing complementary interests so that two or more countries can work together

  • Foreign policy is inherently an elite game, and elites usually define the national interest

THE IMPORTANCE OF ECONOMICS

  • Economics now looms large in IR, perhaps the biggest single factor

  • In recent decades, controlled economies got a jolt from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s attack on the welfare state and her promotion of capitalism; “Thatcherism” spread to many countries, leading to freer markets

  • The World Trade Organisation (WTO) aims at freer trade by cutting tariffs and other barriers

  • Its predecessor before 1995, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), did the same thing but without enforcement powers

  • Some argue that globalisation is the big trend; but are globalisation and its problems a cause or a consequence of peace?

  • The prosperity offered by globalisation does not reach everyone equally

WHY WAR?

  • Theories on the cause of war divide into:

  1. MICRO

Micro theories explain war as the result of genetic human aggressiveness that makes people fight. In this, humans resemble other mammals. These theories offer some insights but fall far short of explaining wars. If humans are naturally aggressive, why aren’t all nations constantly at war?

  1. MACRO

Macro theories are rooted in history and geography and concentrate on the power and ambitions of states. One country, fearing the growing power of a neighbour, will strengthen its defences or form alliances to offset the neighbour’s power.

Some hypotheses in this theoretical category include:

  1. BALANCE OF POWER

The oldest and most commonly held theory is that peace results when several states use national power and alliances to balance one another. Would-be expansionists are blocked. According to balance-of-power theorists, the great periods of relative peace have been times when the European powers balanced each other.

  1. HIERARCHY OF POWER

Other scholars reject the balance-of-power theory. Calculations of power are problematic, so it is impossible to know when power balances. Often periods of peace occurred when power was out of balance, when states were ranked hierarchically in terms of power.

  1. MISPERCEPTION/IMAGE THEORY

The psychological and real worlds bounce against each other in the minds of political leaders. They think they are acting defensively, but their picture of the situation may be distorted.

KEEPING PEACE

  • Many proposals have been advanced to prevent/limit war (none really worked):

  1. WORLD GOVERNMENT

The real culprit, many claim, is sovereignty itself. States should give up some of their sovereignty (the ability to go to war) to an international entity that would prevent war much as an individual country keeps the peace within its borders. But no nation would willingly do so.

  1. COLLECTIVE SECURITY

The League of Nations tried collective security, and nations pledged to join in economic and military action against any aggressor. But when Japan conquered Manchuria in 1931, the League merely studied the situation. Japan claimed the Chinese started it (a lie), and the other powers saw no point in entering a distant conflict where they had no interests.

  1. FUNCTIONALISM

Dozens of UN-related agencies now promote international cooperation in disease control, food production, weather forecasting, civil aviation, nuclear energy, and other areas. Even hostile countries are sometimes able to sit together to solve a mutual problem in specialised areas. But this doesn't last.

  1. 3RD-PARTY ASSISTANCE

Third parties can help calm a tense situation and find compromise solutions, but the contenders have to want to find a solution. If not, third-party help is futile.

  1. DIPLOMACY

The oldest approach to preserving peace is through diplomatic contact, with envoys sent from one state to another.

  1. PEACEKEEPING

Related to diplomacy is the use of third-party military forces to support a cease-fire or truce to end fighting (e.g.: UNPROFOR, MFO)

THE MOVE BEYOND SOVEREIGNTY

  1. THE U.N.

The UN has sent many peacekeepers to observe truces, as in the Middle East and Balkans, but these few and lightly armed forces from small countries were in no position to enforce peace.

  1. THE NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANISATION (NATO)

The North Atlantic Treaty is limited in scope and does not apply anywhere else, not in the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans, or the Caucasus, which are “out of area.”.