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Comparative Politics: A Global Introduction Ed. by Michael J

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1 Comparative Politics: A Global Introduction. 2008 Ed. by Michael J
Comparative Politics: A Global Introduction Ed. by Michael J. Sodaro Sodaro’s Third Edition Presented for Political Science Instruction by Angela Oberbauer, M.A. Updated 2011 Chapters 7 - 9

2 Chapter 7: Democracy, What is it? (pp. 171-191)
Democracy: a form of government in which the people are represented through free, fair, competitive elections, also called “electoral democracy.” 123 electoral democracies around the world by the end of 2005 representing 64% of 192 sovereign states. However, of the 121, only 89 countries are listed as “free” because they allow freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and other liberties that the government may not infringe upon (Sodaro 171).

3 Democracy, what is it: Principle elements or values of any Democracy:
Popular Sovereignty: the people have the right to determine how they are governed (p. 168). Either the people exercise control of governmental authority directly or they establish effective mechanism, e.g. limited government, majority rule, accountability, periodic elections, participation. Rights and Liberties: basic rights and liberties (freedoms) must be guaranteed by law to the citizen. The state nor the people through “majority rule” may not take these rights or liberties away. Democratic Values: e.g. tolerance, fairness, compromise Economic Democracy: Established criteria of fairness or equality as social and economic components of democracy: Equal Opportunity: education, jobs, lack of discrimination

4 Principles of Democracy, continued
Rule of Law: those who govern, including the most powerful figures in the government, shall be under the law. No one is above the law. Powers of government to make and enforce laws are limited by legal restraints. Without “rule of law” there is anarchy. “Rule of Law” is the important tool for protection of humanity. Inclusion: means that democratic rights and freedoms must be for everyone . Groups or individuals in the population may not be denied inclusion. Political Equality and Equal Opportunity = Equity, fairness. Popular Sovereignty, the people have ultimate authority.

5 Forms of Democracy, continued:
1). Representative Democracy = electoral democracy: the people (voters) elect officials they want to represent them. These officials then make laws that should represent the peoples’ wishes. Periodic elections should take place; competitive candidates; voters must have the freedom to vote as they see fit; fair processes should used for selecting candidates, conducting elections, and counting votes. Secret confidential voting methods Openness and Transparency: public officials must share information with general population; government must be transparent. Inclusive: all adults (citizens) should have the right to vote. Majority Rule: a majority of voters agree to a decision. Political equality: voting rights should be distributed equally to individuals according to law and the principle of “one person, one vote” (Sodaro, p ).

6 Forms of Democracy, continued
2. Direct Democracy (or Plebiscitary Democracy): The people make laws themselves: Initiative: voters propose laws for approval. Referendum: legislative branch (with executive) propose law for voter approval. Recall: the voter can vote out a public official. Negatives: not all persons in a society are well informed, and social and economic elites could influence the masses in formulating what is reality on different issues, e.g. “recall”.

7 Democracy and Economic Decision Making:
Democracy supports privately owned businesses. “Free Market Enterprise,” where private business owners have been the principle economic activity in most democracies: deciding production, distribution of goods and resources and job opportunities. Often, government’s role is limited: little or no regulation of the market/business “laissez-faire capitalism”.(p ). Laissez-faire capitalism confers virtually all economic decision power on the owners and mangers of private enterprises.

8 Purposes and Paradoxes of Democracy
Purposes of Democracy: To enhance the quality of human life and the dignity of the individual.  Democracy empowers ordinary human beings to participate in a meaningful way in the affairs of the community.  Individuals can express their opinions.  It provides for individual freedoms, rights, and promotes political equality on the basis of: “one person, one vote”.  Democracy as a value system: citizens’ political and legal rights to express and require the observance of certain core values: Fairness, tolerance, compromise, trustworthiness, commitment to the peaceful resolution of international disputes when dealing with the outside world, and force to be used only as a last resort. Opposite of Democracy would be a Dictatorship, Authoritarian, or Totalitarian system where freedoms and liberties are often ignored and denied.

9 Purposes of Democracy, continued
2. To ascertain and carry out the wishes of the community.  Democracy foster open discussion of alternative programs and policies.  Permits citizens to choose among candidates representing competing views at election time.  Allows public opinion polls, and allows the citizenry to be fully informed about the activities of their government.  Democracy holds public officials accountable for their actions. To constrain power in government.  Imposing legal limitations on the authority of state officials.  Hold in check the coercive capabilities of the state.  Promoting pluralism. Democracy seeks to reduce social antagonisms.  Various groups in society have a chance to be heard and to share power through their votes. Competing inputs and ideas are allowed; social groups negotiate and compromise to achieve resolution.

10 Paradoxes of Democracy: Sodaro points out that “the quality of democracy, after all, is only as good as the human beings who are its lifeblood.” 1. Central paradox of democracy is that its institutions and practices can be neglected, subverted, or manipulated. e.g. Low voter or political participation; apathy or cynicism; citizens may feel politicians ignore their issues; suppression of open dialogue. Modern democracies are often seriously divided on important questions, economic and social inequalities. Constraining power of government officials once elected and in government is often difficult; governing elites and their appointees often enjoy considerable discretionary power to make unpopular or blatantly discriminating policy. 4. Democracy may intensify and perpetuate social conflicts rather than attenuate them, e.g. freedom of speech.

11 Chapter 8: Democracy, Chapter How does it Work
Chapter 8: Democracy, Chapter How does it Work? State Institutions and Electoral Systems (pp ) State Institutions: Presidential System (Presidentialism) The president must share power with a separately elected national legislature (some legislatures are strong, e.g. Congress in the U.S., and some weaker, e.g.unicameral in structure  see Table 8.1 and 8.2. In the U.S., Lawmaking depends on a balance of Congressional and presidential powers. The House of Representatives and the Senate must have majority vote, and the President must sign into law the legislation within 10 working congressional days. The Congress with a 2/3rds roll-call vote can override a Presidential veto. The Supreme Court may strike down laws as unconstitutional (Judicial Review). The President, the Congress, and the states can together override decisions of the Supreme Court, e.g. Amendments: 2/3rds vote in both Houses, and the approval of three-fourths of the state legislatures. Divided government: when power in the three branches is not of one party. Advantages of Presidentialism: can be an efficient, effective, and stable form of government if both Executive and Legislative Branches worked together. Risks: Potential abuse of presidential power, which, Sodaro points out, the Executive can reach dictatorial proportion if unchecked by legislative and judicial authority.

12 A Parliamentary Government:
The people elect the national legislature from districts. The Majority Party selects a Candidate as Prime Minister. The national legislature elects or approves the Government: which includes the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s chosen Cabinet members. Together, the Prime Minister and his/her Cabinet are “The Government.” In this system, there is no separation of powers: there is a “fusion of powers between the legislature and the executive (see Table. 8.2 and Fig. 8.2). The government in a parliamentary system stems from the legislature and is formally accountable to it (197). The Government must present and defend its policies before the legislature, and receive a majority vote from the entire Legislature [to which the Government members also serve as voting legislative members]. If the legislature does not vote for policy with a majority vote, the Government can be voted out of office; called “a Vote of No Confidence.”

13 Single-Party Majoritarian Government:
One party wins an absolute majority of seats in the national legislature and forms the government. House of Commons of 1997: Labour Party won 419 of the 659 seats in the House, or 63.6 %, or 179 more seats than the combined total of the opposition parties. Requires Party discipline to achieve a particular party vote, unanimously. If no party succeeds in winning a absolute majority of legislative seats, we call this a “hung parliament” (p. 199).

14 Majority Coalition Government:
A coalition government: consists of two or more parties that agree to share cabinet posts, usually in order to form a voting majority in the legislature (p. 199). Coalition government invariably involves ongoing negotiations among the parties that take part in it. A coalition government provides small parties with an opportunity to participate in the executive branch of government. Advantages: Coalitions expand representation the executive branch of government. Another advantage of coalition governments is that they increase the level of bargaining and compromise in the executive branch of government A Coalition government is flexible and adaptable to demands of society. It may be possible to form a new coalition government without having to wait for the next elections.

15 Disadvantages of Coalition Government:
The involvement of too many parties may lead to instability, and a common agreement on policies. Multiparty coalitions can sometimes produce considerable governmental inefficiency, e.g. prolonged negotiations, stalemate, policy turmoil were often the result (p. 200). Small parties may gain a level of influence in the government that far outweighs their share of electoral support. In some democracies, governing coalitions cause instability, because no common ground of agreement can be reached, therefore, new elections and a new government must replace the present unstable one.

16 Minority Government: Is a government of one or more parties whose delegates do not constitute a majority of the legislative house (Sodaro, p. 201). A voting majority is required to pass bills into law. Therefore, a “parliamentary alliance” is formed: two or more parties agree that they will not share cabinet posts, but their legislators will vote together to support the government and pass legislation. The minority can have negotiation power. The minority can ask opposition parties to “abstain” from voting. Anticipated Elections are when parliamentary elections take place before the expiration of the legislature’s full term because of the following reasons: No government can be formed in the national legislature. Public pressure demands immediate elections. The government wants snap elections so as to solidify a parliamentary majority (p. 202).

17 Presidential-Parliamentary Democracies:
The “mixed Presidential-Parliamentary system” also known as “semi-presidentialism.” Its essence is that it features a president and a prime minister who each have significant decision-making powers “dual-executive system” (see Fig. 8.3 and Table 8.6). The main purpose of this type of regime is to expedite the process of making governmental decisions: avoid stalemate in legislatures. This mixed system is intended above all to maximize the “efficiency” of the decision-making process and the “stability” of executive authority,e.g France. Dangers: President has too much power; abuse of power, threatens democratic principles of negotiation, accommodation, and compromise, e.g. the past Russian President Yeltsin, and present President Vladimir Putin.

18 Electoral Systems Electing a President
A Direct-election system: (U.S.) voters vote for their favorite Presidential Candidate. The Electoral College: loyal party members are chosen by their State Party members [today] during the Presidential Election Year. These Electors then vote for their Party’s Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates after the national general election has taken place in November. The Electoral College members vote in their state capitols in December following the national general election results. In each State, the number of Electors chosen must meet the number of representatives from that state in the U.S. House of Representative, plus two more to represent that State’s two Senators in the U.S. Senate. Today, 538 Electoral College votes are cast: including 435 representing the US House of Representatives, 100 representing the US Senate, plus 3 votes from the District of Columbia (through the twenty-third Amendment, 1961). Therefore, Voters go to the polls in November, cast their votes in each state, and the Presidential candidate who wins the most votes in that state, takes his/her party’s electoral votes four weeks later officially when the Electoral College votes for the President and Vice President. Number of votes required to be elected President Number of votes required to be elected Vice President House of Representatives: are elected directly by the voters in each District within the pertinent state. The U.S. Senate: elected [since 1913, 17th Amendment] directly by the voters.

19 Legislative Elections
Single-Member District (SMD)/Plurality System: The country is divided into electoral districts for elections to a particular legislative chamber, e.g. United State: 435 electoral districts for the House of Representatives Britain: 659 Districts for election of the House of Commons. Advantages: only one representative per district where the voters can connect and identify with. A multimember district sends two or more representatives to the national legislature. Single-member Districts also promote greater citizen awareness of politics and greater accountability on the part of the representative (p. 207). Absolute Majority: 50 percent plus one vote. Simple Majority: the highest number of votes among the competing candidates is sufficient to win. The SMD/Plurality Electoral system is a “winner-take-all” system. Promotes name recognition of “incumbent representatives and challengers. Problems: Promotes two-party system. Can lead to a disparity between a party’s share of the vote on a nationwide basis and its share of the seats in the legislature. Limits voters’ choices and creates a [false] legislative majorities,e.g. British Labour Party’s 63% majority in Parliament but achieved only 40% of the popular vote.

20 Proportional Representation (PR)
Sodaro points out, a party’s share (percentage) of its seats in the legislature exactly or approximately equals its share of the popular vote nationwide, i.e. if a party gets 25 percent of the popular vote in legislative elections, it will get 25 percent (exactly or approximately) of the seats in the legislature (pp , also see Figure 8.4). The “Party list:” parties draw up lists of candidates, rank-ordering their names in accordance with their political prominence. Israel is a good example of PR: the the country as a whole constitutes of one large electoral district for the Knesset---its 120-member unicameral legislature. Voters vote for a party, not for individual candidates. A Mixed-Member Electoral System: The combination of PR and SMD elections, e.g. Germany.

21 Proportional Representation, continued:
Advantages: PR can lead to a fairly wide proliferation of political parties represented in the legislature, therefore, more fairness in party choices. PR often results in a multiparty coalition government or a minority government. Sodaro writes that supporters of PR insist it is a more representative electoral system of a country’s political divisions than the single member district/plurality system, and gives voters more choices. Helps small parties to participate. Tends to enhance voter participation, therefore, possible higher voter turnout (see Table 8.14, p. 204). Problems: Multiparty governments can be highly unstable and inefficient. Hung parliaments  stalemate. Its impersonal character. Achieving a vote of confidence is not always an easy task. Using the “hurdle” criterion for a party to win a certain percentage of the national vote in order to acquire legislative seats.

22 Chapter 9: Democracy, what does it take? (pp.221-240)
Ten Conditions For Democracy: State Institutions: A successful democracy requires a functioning state that has sovereignty over a defined territory, whose boundaries, governing elites, and basic institutions are viewed as legitimate by its population. Elites Committed to Democracy: Sodaro writes: The success, indeed the very existence, of democracy, depends to a considerable degree on the attitudes and behavior of society’s political and social elites (p.211). Why? Elites should adhere to the laws and norms of democracy, resisting temptations to dominance and corruption. Have a capacity for bargaining and compromise. Inspire the population to widen their perspectives on the meaning of democratic rights and values. Iraq?? Afghanistan?? China?? The tasks of democratization and consolidation, in particular Sodaro points out, require leadership skills of the highest magnitude in view of the enormous political, economic and attitudinal changes they impose on the population.

23 3. National Unity [A Homogeneous Society:]
Democracy is most likely to succeed when it rests on a socially homogeneous society, not “fragmented” and torn by deep ethnic, religious, class, issues and too unstable for a steady democratic governance. Know the Pros and Cons to this statement? (pp ) 4. National Wealth: Most poor countries have not had much success in building or sustaining democracy (with some exceptions). Economic development can enhance the chances for democracy in some countries, and once a democracy is already established, its prospects for survival rise, the richer the country is (Adam Przeworski 1997 in Sodaro, p. 214). 5. Private Enterprise: Economic freedom promotes political freedom. True?? What are the arguments given by Barrington Moore (1966) in his Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy? Know them. 6. A Middle Class: Hypothesis suggests that countries that are sharply divided into a small class of rich people and a large mass of poor, with no middle class, are not likely to establish democracy. Therefore, a middle class wants to form democracy because its members seek to establish their own economic security on the basis of private enterprise, the rule of law, and an accountable government (p. 215).

24 7. Support of the Disadvantaged for Democracy:
Disadvantage consist of the poorest members of the population: in some countries comprises millions of people clinging to survival. Also minorities can be counted among society’s economically or socially disadvantaged. Problems in a Democracy: If democracy offers no real hope of overcoming poverty or systematic discrimination, how then [Sodaro asks] can it claim to represent all the people inclusively(p )? Therefore, the poor or systematic discriminated against may express indifference, or base support for antidemocratic political movements and erupt into political violence. (e.g. in Africa, Latin America, and Asia, democracy tends to be weak or nonexistent where the masses of the population are poor with no education, and therefore unable to organize broad-based democratic movements, or are even unwilling to support democratic parties that do not address their needs.

25 8. Citizen Participation, Civil Society, and a Democratic Political Culture:
Political Parties play a critical role in the participatory process: providing the main organizational link between politicians who run for office and the mass public. Democracy also requires a strong “civil society”: that is, the population is organized into associations independently of the state, e.g. “Interest Groups” that have a common interest and support and want to influence politicians that will make policy that will benefit the interest group. Democratic Political Culture: a pattern of widely shared and agreed upon attitudes and values supportive of democratic institutions and procedures. Problems: lack of civil participation noted by Robert Putnam (2000), the result of which Putnam calls a serious depletion of “social capital””…social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them” (in Sodaro, p. 232).

26 9. Education and Freedom of Information:
The prospects for democracy rise with society’s education levels. A more educated society the greater the support for democratic values and procedures. Societies with high levels of illiteracy and poorly educated populations are less likely to create or sustain democracy. E.g. Britain and U.S. societies. Press freedom and open political discussion spread democratic ideas. Democratic societies tend to have higher levels of literacy and secondary school graduation rates than non-democracies (p. 233). How has technology also helped non-democratic societies spread their beliefs?

27 A Favorable International Environment:
War and its consequences can have either negative or positive effects on democracy: Negative effects: War generally requires firm centralized leadership and an influential role for the military command in the highest political institutions, therefore, freedoms and liberties may be oppressed (p.219). Global economic conditions can at times exert an equally profound impact on the prospects for democracy in certain countries, e.g. during the Depression; today, the European Union and the World Bank insisting on good governance, including the elimination of corruption and the expansion of democratic practices as a “condition” for inclusion into the EU or for economic aid to countries from the World Bank and the EU.

28 Explain some Patterns of Democratization
Democracies that merged from some form of monarch at the end of World War II, e.g. France, Germany. However, tendencies were already moving toward democratic systems in the latter 19th and early 20th Centuries through pressures from the middle class. Countries that inherited democracies, e.g. U.S., Canada, Britain. Countries that developed or redeveloped democracy as the result of war and foreign invasion or intervention, e.g. Japan, Austria, Italy, Germany, France, Grenada, Panama (p. 236). Countries that have undergone transitions to democracy from either military rule, one-party rule, or rule by a regime centered around a dominant leader (see Table 9.4, p. 237 and Tables 9.5 and 9.6 on p. 238).

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