Comparative politics


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Comparative politics

  1. 1. BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO COMPARATIVE POLITICS AND KEY-DEFINITIONS Politics: The art or science of government or governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs The activities or affairs engaged by a government, politician, or political party (O’Neill) The Methods or tactics involved in managing a state or a government
  2. 2. <ul><li>Comparative Politics versus International Relations </li></ul><ul><li> INTERNATIONAL </li></ul><ul><li>RELATIONS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>State State </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>COMPARATIVE POLITICS </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>COMPARATIVE POLITICS OPENS THE BLACKBOX OF THE STATE </li></ul><ul><li>Political systems; institutions; executive, judiciary, legislative branches; voting; decision-making; political parties and interesting groups are the stuff that comparative politics is concerned about </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>THREE WAYS TO STUDY COMPARATIVE POLITICS: </li></ul><ul><li>Political systems: “what government do, and how do they act?” </li></ul><ul><li>Look at countries as a whole, often on lengthy historical periods </li></ul><ul><li>Is the German corporate model more dysfunctional than the British Westminster model? </li></ul><ul><li>2) Political behavior: “We understand a political system by knowing how people behave” </li></ul><ul><li>Assumption that one’s political behavior is also contingent to the national environment in which we live </li></ul><ul><li>de Tocqueville: “[In comparison to Americans], the French are undisciplined by temperament.” ( Democracy in America ) </li></ul><ul><li>Ex: loud demonstrations and rioting against political authority are a political behavior typically French (May 1968; the riots of October-November 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>3) Institutional approach: </li></ul><ul><li>We look at specific institutions (the executive, legislative, or judiciary branch for instance) which are supposed to help us understand how the regime works </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>The State: political entity that has: </li></ul><ul><li>A territory </li></ul><ul><li>People </li></ul><ul><li>A government </li></ul><ul><li>Boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>A Sovereign State (sovereignty as a recognized principle of the international system established by the 1648 Treaties of Westphalia) </li></ul><ul><li>Internal sovereignty: control over its citizens and territory </li></ul><ul><li>External Sovereignty: autonomy from outside intervention </li></ul><ul><li>Lebanon? EU as a political entity where the states have partially relinquished their sovereignty or pooled their sovereignty together </li></ul><ul><li>Sovereignty is an ideal concept </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Nationalism: </li></ul><ul><li>New variable introduced by the American and French Revolutions </li></ul><ul><li>Introduced the idea that the nation, and not the state should be the defining character of the system </li></ul><ul><li>A Nation: a group of people that shares a common language, history, or culture </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>TENSION EXISTING IN THE SYSTEM: </li></ul><ul><li>State_____________________Nation </li></ul><ul><li> Nation-state </li></ul><ul><li>Nation-state: the nation and the state coincides </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>YET : only one solution out of many </li></ul><ul><li>Example of nation-state? </li></ul><ul><li>Japan, Italy, France (?) </li></ul><ul><li>Other models: the state-nation; the part-nation state; the multinational state </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>The state-nation: the state generates and shapes the nation through propagating uniform elements such as culture, art, and law </li></ul><ul><li>Examples? The U.S. and Australia </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>The part nation-state: a nation is divided between up among two or more states </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Korea, </li></ul><ul><li>Vietnam until 1973, </li></ul><ul><li>Germany during the Cold War </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>The multinational state: States containing two or more substantially complete nations within its boundaries (usually a federation or an empire) </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: Canada, </li></ul><ul><li>the United-Kingdom, </li></ul><ul><li>Belgium, </li></ul><ul><li>France (?) </li></ul><ul><li>Problem: no natural unifying principle, therefore are vulnerable to dismemberment and separatism </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>CONSTITUTION </li></ul><ul><li>AND </li></ul><ul><li>IDEOLOGIES </li></ul>
  13. 13. Key-concepts: Constitution, Ideology, and Regime CONSTITUTION REGIME IDEOLOGY
  14. 14. <ul><li>Constitution: “Constitutions are codes of rules which aspire to regulate the allocation of functions, powers, and duties among the various agencies and officers of government, and define the relationship between these and the public.” A constitution provides the basic framework and laws of a state. </li></ul><ul><li>Ideology: ideologies are a set of ideas relating to the social and political world. Ideologies provide general guidelines for action. Those are the words in –isms such as liberalism, conservatism, socialism, henceforth… </li></ul><ul><li>Regime (different meanings): In the pejorative and narrower sense, dictatorship – Yet, in the broader sense has to deal with the type of actors, form of leadership, and policies implemented by a specific government. </li></ul>
  15. 15. CONSTITUTIONS <ul><li>WRITTEN CONSTITUTION/CONSTITUTIONAL REGIME </li></ul><ul><li>A written constitution refers to the fact that the ideas and organization of a state are formally presented in one document </li></ul><ul><li>Constitutional government refers to the fact that a government is limited in its actions. In other words, the government cannot do anything it wants. </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: in the U.S., the first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Written/Unwritten Constitution <ul><li>Ex. of written constitution: the American and French constitutions </li></ul><ul><li>Written constitutions can be of different lengths </li></ul><ul><li>Ex. The long and extremely detailed 1977 Soviet constitution versus the rather brief American one </li></ul><ul><li>Britain? </li></ul><ul><li>The Body of British constitutional law points to a certain number of documents that have been incrementally adopted. These are notably: </li></ul><ul><li>The 1215 Magna Carta </li></ul><ul><li>The Bill of Rights or Habeas Corpus of 1689 </li></ul><ul><li>The 1701 Act of Settlement </li></ul><ul><li>Israel? </li></ul><ul><li>Diverse documents have been periodically added since the creation of the state in 1948 </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>HAVING A WRITTEN CONSTITUTION DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF A CONSTITUTIONAL REGIME (that the government is limited in its actions) </li></ul><ul><li>Ex. The Soviet written Constitution did not truly limit the government in its actions </li></ul><ul><li>The Soviet Union acknowledged the existence of rights to its citizens (art.39), notably freedom of scientific, technical, and artistic creation (art. 47), or the right to unite in public organization (art.51). Yet, these rights found their limits in the interests of the state and the society, meaning that these rights could be removed if they were contradictory to the communist ideology </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Constitutions that grant rights and constitutions that recognize rights </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: Because the Soviet Constitution gave rights instead of recognizing them, the Soviet government could easily remove these rights. Instead, these rights are in the U.S. and in the UK recognized as natural and inalienable (that cannot be taken away) </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>Rights guaranteed by the limits posed to a government by a constitution are never absolute </li></ul><ul><li>Ex. the U.S. and the U.K. in special circumstances (Americans of Japanese descent during World War II, Freedom of speech and of press since September 11 with for instance the Patriot Act) </li></ul><ul><li>Civil rights are especially threatened when governments declare the state of emergency </li></ul><ul><li>In the 5 th Republic France, the President can under certain conditions emit decrees akin to laws </li></ul>
  20. 20. I- CONSTITUTIONS <ul><li>“ Constitutions are codes of rules which aspire to regulate the allocation of functions, powers, and duties among the various agencies and officers of government, and define the relationship between these and the public.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Power-maps” for political systems </li></ul><ul><li>Show us the political framework of the state, who has power (who does what and who gets what), and often are a snapshot of the ideology on which the state was founded. </li></ul>
  21. 21. What Do Constitutions Do? <ul><li>Usually, we can learn a lot about the political system of a country although the snapshot analogy is sometimes limited </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: the U.S. Constitution does not mention political parties, while the Canadian one does not mention the Prime Minister (the most important actor in the Canadian state) </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Serves as an expression of ideology and philosophy (shows the principles upon which the state was created). Although this does not have to be the case. </li></ul><ul><li>Provides the basic laws and legal framework of the countries. Therefore, it can be changed only with great difficulty through amendments </li></ul><ul><li>Provides the organizational/working framework for governments. Sometimes gives us a diagram on how the different organs of the state interact with each other. Ex.: the relationship between the legislative and executive branches </li></ul><ul><li>Can tell us about whether the state is a confederation, federal, or unitary state (I am coming to it), and what powers fall among the various levels/jurisdictions of the state </li></ul><ul><li>Usually possess an amendment clause. Amendment clauses stem from the recognition that the environment may change overtime and that the constitution may adjust to novel conditions. Failure to do so may lead to a breakdown of the system as a whole. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Each constitution tells us different things on each of these levels: Legal Framework Amendment And Constitutional Flexibility Organizational Framework II (Levels of Organization) Organizational Framework I (Interaction pattern) Expression Of ideology And Philosophy CONSTITUTION
  24. 24. <ul><li>For instance, the U.S. Constitution tells us little or nothing on the ideology on which the state was based. </li></ul><ul><li>The Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers tell us more about such principles. On the other hand, the Constitution is more explicit as far as what the organization of the American political system should be. </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>It matters greatly whether a Constitution allows for the possibility of change (for instance through amendments) </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: The Founding Fathers have ensured through the use of a loose and relatively vague language that the Constitution could adjust overtime to new situations. On the other hand, each French republican constitution has been written in a rigid way, leaving no margin for change. </li></ul><ul><li>As a result, the U.S. has broken the record of longevity for a constitution (since 1787). France instead has had five Republican constitutions often separated by different regime experiments (return to monarchy, two empires, and Vichy during WWII). Current talks about a 6 th Constitution </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>Trade-off: </li></ul><ul><li>Constitutional Constitutional </li></ul><ul><li>Stability efficiency </li></ul><ul><li>For instance, the U.S. system has usually evolved incrementally, slowly, and often after major crises (gathering of intelligence agencies through the department of homeland security after September 11). </li></ul>
  27. 27. Unitary States, Federal States, and Confederations <ul><li>Unitary State: states with one main level of government in which sovereignty is retained at the top </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: France </li></ul>Government in Paris FRANCE
  28. 28. <ul><li>Federal State: two-level government in which each sphere has its own jurisdiction and retain a part of sovereignty </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: the U.S., Germany </li></ul>State/ Province Federal Government
  29. 29. <ul><li>Usually, the federal government has authority on questions of war and peace, diplomacy, currency, etc… </li></ul><ul><li>The state/province level can have jurisdiction on education, criminal, or civil law </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes, both levels can have jurisdiction over the same issue-area </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: Justice in the U.S. </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>German Länder: </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>Confederal System or Confederation: loose association of states in which each unit retains a relatively high degree of autonomy and flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: The first constitution of the U.S.(1781-7); Germany (1815-66); and Switzerland (1815-1874) </li></ul>State State State
  32. 32. Pros and Cons of each System: Confederation Difficulties in having a common foreign policy and for the central state to collect taxes (-) Particular interests are too strong (-) As a result, confederations tend either to fragment into unitary systems or to become federation Ex.: the U.S. and Switzerland (although one still talk about the Helvetic Confederation) European Community and European Union? Federal Responsive (both spheres compete for the citizen; when one level does not work, the citizen can appeal to the other level of government)(+) Yet , paradoxically confusing (who’s the boss?; no one knows whose sphere of responsibility an issue belongs to)(-) Redundancy (dual taxing)(-) Can be a good solution for states that have strong regionalism (Canada for instance)(+) Such states are however subject to fragmenting dynamics (-) Out of 185 states, about 21 are federations Unitary Efficiency (+) Works better with small states and states with one nation Does not leave much space for regionalism and other forms of particularisms (-)
  33. 33. Degree of centralization <ul><li> States/provinces 1% Control States/Provinces 1% Control </li></ul><ul><li>Centralized Decentralization </li></ul><ul><li>Unitary States Federal States Confederation </li></ul>
  34. 34. <ul><li>France at the beginning of the 5 th Republic was the archetype of the unitary-state, yet bottom-up pressures have in the 1980’s pushed for partial decentralization </li></ul><ul><li>The United-Kingdom has, because of strong particularisms, experienced a devolution of power to the regions. Although still a unitary system, the UK is currently evolving towards the federative model </li></ul>
  35. 35. SEPARATION OF POWER <ul><li>Centralized power (a high level of centralization) / Concentration of power (in one branch for instance) </li></ul><ul><li>Both were seen as bad and potentially dangerous for democracies by the founding fathers </li></ul><ul><li>As a consequence, to fight the centralization of power , power was distributed equally with the states balancing the power of the federal government. A new capital was created instead of staying in the old city of Philadelphia to avoid the primacy of one city over the others. In like manner, each state administrative center was not the major city but a rather medium-size city </li></ul><ul><li>At the federal level, the Constitution envisioned the separation of power providing a subtle balance between the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches, each overseeing the two others (checks and balances) </li></ul>Executive Legislative Judiciary
  36. 36. <ul><li>SEPARATION OF POWER CONCENTRATION </li></ul><ul><li>CHECKS AND BALANCE OF POWER </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: The U..S. Towards dictactorship </li></ul><ul><li>All democracies do have some sort of separation of power </li></ul>
  37. 37. IDEOLOGIES <ul><li>Ideology: ideologies are a set of ideas relating to the social and political world. Ideologies provide general guidelines for action. Those are the words in –isms such as liberalism, conservatism, socialism, henceforth… </li></ul><ul><li>Give regimes their raison d’être, a purpose, and serve as a reference for behavior in the international system </li></ul>
  38. 38. <ul><li>At the inception of the American Revolution, classical liberalism was the most influential ideology in the Anglo-Saxon world </li></ul><ul><li>During the interwar (between WWI and WWII), Liberalism coexisted with Marxism and Fascism </li></ul>
  39. 39. <ul><li>Ideologies are often associated with a certain attitude towards political change (preserving or changing the status-quo) </li></ul><ul><li>Leftists-Rightists divide? Dates back to the French Revolution with the conservatives favoring the King sitting on his right and the ones in favor of change sitting on his left (the radicals) </li></ul><ul><li>If being conservative or radical does not have the same meaning as in this period and is itself a changing notion depending on the regime in place, this analogy still serves as a basis for comparison today in France and in most countries </li></ul>
  40. 40. <ul><li>The French National Assembly: </li></ul>
  41. 41. <ul><li>Political spectrum towards change: </li></ul><ul><li>Radicals Moderate Reactionary </li></ul><ul><li>Left Right </li></ul><ul><li> Liberals Conservative </li></ul>
  42. 42. <ul><li>Radicals: violence; drastic societal changes </li></ul><ul><li>Liberal position: incremental change and reforms; belief in human progress </li></ul><ul><li>Moderate: satisfaction with the society as it is; slow and undisruptive change </li></ul><ul><li>Classical conservative: most satisfied with the status-quo and the society; Against change; respect in traditions and the political system; pessimistic view of human nature (against liberals) </li></ul><ul><li>Reactionaries: “moving backwards” instead of “towards” (radicals); retrogressive change; Based on the idea that the former conditions of the society were better and that we should return to it </li></ul>
  43. 43. <ul><li>Those positions are relative to the place where we are in the radical-reactionary spectrum </li></ul><ul><li>One radical of today may be a conservative of tomorrow if the political regime changes </li></ul><ul><li>American American (Hartz) </li></ul><ul><li> Left Right </li></ul><ul><li>Radicals Moderate Reactionary </li></ul><ul><li>Left Right </li></ul><ul><li> Liberals Conservative </li></ul>
  44. 44. <ul><li>Liberal-Conservative spectrum show attitudes towards change (from radical to retrogressive change) </li></ul><ul><li>Yet, other “isms” dealing more with purely political and economic ideologies </li></ul>
  45. 45. <ul><li>Anarchism: all government interfere with human rights and freedom, therefore should be abolished </li></ul><ul><li>Capitalism: belief in an economic system of free-trade in which the means of production are owned by individuals, not the state (market economy, laissez-faire,…) </li></ul><ul><li>Communism: theory stemming from Marx and Lenin. Government ownership of the major means of production. Politics determines economics in the sense that the government regulates and control all sectors of the economy. No private ownership. </li></ul><ul><li>Corporatism: belief in a system that advocates close cooperation and coordination between the government, labor, and business groups in the formation of economic policy (Germany). </li></ul><ul><li>Fascism (includes national socialism): social Darwinism, nationalism, glorification of the state, uncontested leadership, racism, and anti-communism </li></ul>
  46. 46. <ul><li>Feminism: recent and Western-centric belief that emerged as a response to women oppression and sexism </li></ul><ul><li>Marxism: Economic theory assuming the struggle between workers and owners over the means of production. Inevitability of class conflict </li></ul><ul><li>Nationalism: Idea stemming from the American and French Revolutions that each nation should have its own state (nation as a subjective nation) </li></ul><ul><li>Socialism: ideology stemming from the industrial revolution arguing that the state should be providing the welfare of its citizens (education, medical care, living standards) </li></ul><ul><li>Welfare state/socialism (ex.: France) </li></ul><ul><li>Totalitarianism: the government controls individual behavior and political thought. Superior than authoritarianism. Whereas authoritarianism focuses on controlling behavior affecting the regime, totalitarianism wishes to control the minds of the citizens </li></ul>
  47. 47. CLASSIFICATION OF REGIMES <ul><li>Ideologies (-isms) as the ideas and beliefs that give a purpose to a regime/ form of governance (-cracy) </li></ul><ul><li>Aristotle made a distinction between good and bad governance: </li></ul><ul><li>Good governance as a system where rule is in the interest of the general interest, Bad governance as a system based on self-interest </li></ul>
  48. 48. Democracy Polity Many Oligarchy Aristocracy Few Tyranny Kingship One SELF-INTERESTED RULE “ bad governance” RULE IN GENERAL INTEREST “ good governance” NUMBER OF RULERS