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Introduction To Modern Politics.docx
Introduction To Modern Politics.docx

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School
Wilfrid Laurier University
Department
Political Science
Course
PO111
Professor
Debora Vannijnatten
Semester
Winter

Description
Introduction To Modern Politics January 8, 2013 Power Conflict and Politics: How do we get to decide how things are decided we have to have some way to decide the conflict when people don‟t agree on how things should be ran politics is also about “value clashes”  Debate about legalizing drugs first of marijuana  Its costly to imprison people who are using (treat it like a public health issue)  Clash of different values  Euthanasia – where do we draw the line  Intelligent design – belief that an intelligent thing created us (still focuses on science) attempt to look at creationism through a scientific lens originates in conflict over scarce resources and or differing values…if politics is a struggle between the proponents among these ideas and if it involves the resolution then what is the mechanism that we use to allocate our resources….government Government: Specialized activity of individuals and institutions that make and enforce collective decisions that are binding on the community decisions are binding not voluntary government is the conflict manager it is also both a set of activities (occurring over time) and a collection of institutions that carry out the activities Democratic government –supposed to manage conflict in certain way and concern with equality no one group should dominate over others regular elections to choose citizen representatives  plus other mechanisms for allowing citizens to participate  need other ways of allowing people to take part in decisions  democratic systems always fall short of completely democratic systems…why? Power Power – democratic government has never been able to eradicate power we regard this as unfair but how do we locate power?  The ability of one actor or group to impose his or her will on others  Politics always involves the exercise of power  It may be difficult to see who has power and how do you trace that through to the decision that got made  Not always easy to see easy who has power 1/8/2013 12:35:00 PM Poli Sci Week 2 January 15, 2013 Politics – originates in conflict over scarce resources and or differing values, between groups in society who want different things…the activity of resolving this conflict, always involves the exercise of power = the ability of one actor or group to impose his or her will on other  Coercion, authority, influence power influences the resolution of conflict (some individuals and groups win out over others) Government is the conflict manager makes and enforces collective decisions Point clarification: what is the difference between the state and government:  „state‟ is all of these thing o the law an institution and set of institutions o sovereign entity o an internally recognized entity o a group of people (e.g.what it means to be American) o an idea o all of these develop over time – more enduring than government  „government‟ is a specialized ac  activity of those individual and institutions that make and enforce collective decisions in a state o more specific construct of how we make collective decisions o is both a set of activities (occurring over time) How democratic are we? Democracy = rule by the people Freedom house  Each country is rated on a seven category scale 1 representing moat free and 7 the least free (1-0.25)=free; (3.0-5.0)=Partly Free; (5.5-7.0)=Not free  Two foci o On slide Democracy is… 1) A set of ideals about how government should work, what the role of citizen is in the political system AND 2) A set of procedures and institution guiding operation of government participation of citizens Popular sovereignty Sovereignty = supreme authority in a political community Popular = people are source of all political power have right to overrule other bodies  Can “throw the rascals out”  Where people have the right to get rid of their representative Political Authority  Idea that each individual citizen (regardless of gender, race etc.) carries the same weight in voting and other political decision making o Measured by extent which citizens have equal voice in governing o Each individual citizen should carry the same weight in the political process  Why important? Political activity is means by which we inform our governors of our interests make them responsive to us Majority Rule  Idea that, if each vote is to be counted equally, the decision of the majority must be accepted o Government accepts what most people want  The alternative is “oligarchy” (rule by few)  At least some of the time you will get what you want – can accept that  Canada has a majority government in the sense that the conservatives had most seats in 2011 election  Mexico – has 3 similar political parties Political liberties:  Freedoms that protect the individual, set limits on government or fellow citizens essential to exercise of popular sovereignty o Negative freedom – freedom from  Speech, association, religion, press, fair trail, right to bear arms, sexual orientation…unrestricted by government o Positive freedoms – freedom to  Education, health care…provided by government o States formed after early 1900s tend to focus on positive freedoms rather than negative Minority Rights:  Designed to ensure that a specific individual or group (which may be vulnerable, disadvantaged) is able to achieve equality  The assumption is that without a framework to support minorities they wouldn‟t be politically equal Includes both: 1) individual rights (as applied to members of racial, ethnic class, religious, linguistic or sexual minorities) and, 2) collective rights accorded to minority groups Political Competition  If people are to be sovereign, they must be able to choose their political representatives o There must be more than one choice  Elections are key to political competition, must be fair – affects legitimacy of political system o E.g. Canada vs. Singapore  There are elections – however because the state controls the media etc. it is not a fair competition (the government always wins because they manipulate means of power) Rule of Law  Idea that government authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws o Intended as a safeguard against arbitrary governance  Distinction between “rule of law” and “rule by law” o Rule by law is used to constrain us o In china the rule of law isn‟t practiced as much as rule by law some ideals are in tension with each other or with other important values  how do you create a balance  countries all have different ways for distributing these rights January 17, 13 In a general sense democracies tend to favour one or the other in terms of approach democratic elitism and deliberative democracy Democratic Elitism: you choose elites to do the job by voting (citizens participate indirectly) – does it realize popular sovereignty – yes…  Citizens delegate law making authority  Assumes that direct citizen participation is unrealistic and undesirable  Elites must compete for votes  Indirect democracy (you are handing your power to someone else to exercise the power for you)  AKA representative democracy Deliberative Democracy: all citizens are involved in decision making – not just good for the system also good for the citizen (citizens participate directly)  Argues that it is not enough for citizens to vote for their representatives o Must be able to take part in political debate Democracy is a framework for institutions and procedures for putting theses ideals into practice … how do we design democracy Constitutions…are fundamental and provide body of rules and principles according to which a state is governed  Who/what institutions are to carry out major functions of government o How to change the constitution/how things can be amended  Basic rights and obligations of citizens  Basic source of natural law  Fulfill rule of law o Constitutionalism  Constitution is fundamental principle of political life  Written vs. unwritten (uncodified) o Britain has unwritten (ancient documents, acts of parliament and judicial decisions)  Lay foundations for power relations o Different parts of the state (horizontal power relations) o Different levels of government (vertical power relations)  Constitution is like a pinball game... Horizontal power:  Legislative – law makers (house of commons)  Executive (law implementers)  Judicial (law adjudicators) the court system o Three branches of government  Some democracies concerned that power should be strictly divided among branches o Presidential (“separation of power”) system – hard to get things done  Other democracies are less concerned about the concentration of power in one branch o Parliamentary fusion of power system  Judiciary has role dealing with disputes Vertical powers  Unitary system: central gov has power over region gov (France, Cuba, UK)  Federal systems: central and regional governments each have power, cannot overrule each other ETA – Basque fatherland and freedom  Have long wanted their own government  Turned to violence  Represent an ethnic group that wants independence Relations between state an citizens:  British tradition parliament to safeguard rights of citizens, not courts  American bill of rights *political liberty, political equality, minority rights Institutions in Democratic Government 1/8/2013 12:35:00 PM Party disciple is key to executive dominance Canadian constitution…  Created democratic parliamentary system based on the British model  Most important characteristics of this system is that it concentrates power in the hands of a few decision makers *ideals: less emphasis on popular sovereignty, individual rights, fragmentation of power, constraints on the majority The presidents powers are hemmed in at every step by a congress of which he is not a member, and among whose members he may exercise influence but not authority  He can only influence and persuade  Stephen Harper has more power Legislatures have important functions in a democracy  Bring about “rule by people” (popular sovereignty)  Represent the people o Want someone to represent you who has the same views as you o Minority rights? Protect individual rights?  Govern o Form the government (majority rule) o Legislate: formulate and pass laws  Hold the leaders to account o Act as an opposition Legislative Function Parliamentary System Presidential System Representational Rep by pop, link to rep by pop link to constituency district but – with party No party discipline discipline members can better link to voters? vote against voters? Governmental With majority can act more debate on issues quickly to pass laws but but separation of elected parliament powers leads to gridlock powerless? Procedural No confidence vote check on president Lines of responsibility discourages abuse of clear power by one brand but, blurs lines of responsibility 1/8/2013 12:35:00 PM Democracy January 29, 2013 7 Democratic ideals: how do we design democracy to achieve these ideals? How do we embed Elections are critical  popular sovereignty o people have to be able to throw the rascals out  fair political competition o key to even the most minimalist versions of democracy (democratic elitism)  achieving political equality o citizens should have equal voice  organizing majority rule o if each vote is to be counted equally, the decision of the majority must be accepted  Representing minorities o Minorities must achieve equality Fair Political Competition  What constitutes “fair”  Who chooses candidates?  How much money may they spend?  How does debate take place? o If you want to have an election there are different things you need to work out What, then, are the prospects for achieving political equality Organizing majority rule and minority representation also complicated…depends on electoral system!  Singe member plurality system vs. Proportional representation system Ridings – are sections all try to have a similar number  308 ridings in Canada  each riding has separate election and separate candidates  elections are like horse races  often you have multiple candidates and whoever gets the most (by one vote) One who wins in the riding takes the seat (others get nothing)  what matters is the number of seats not the popular vote Single Member Plurality System (SMPS) – we have this  one representative per geographic area (riding, constituency, district)  first-past-the-post, winner-take all system (others don‟t get anything) SMPS and the democratic ideal…  majority government but not necessarily majority rule  minority rights? o Work within a existing party to get some ideal in o Hard to create a new party o What prospects for minor national parties?  Political equality o Does every vote seem to count  Popular sovereignty o Direct representative-citizen link Alternative Systems: Proportional Representation  Representation (# of seats) directly proportional to share of popular vote received (# of votes) o Directly proportional o No ridings or districts, all organized by parties o Number of representatives is simply allocated on basis of how many votes they get in the election  Mechanics o Party lists (list of people the party wants to elect and ranks them in a hierarchy)  People have no say as to who is on the list  Only voting for the list of people and have no say in who gets on the list or order o Single-transferable vote  Choose party but can rank order people on the list  Some votes allocated to party and some to the people your prioritized o In this system you are very unlikely to get the majority government and may even have to have a collation government PR and the Democratic Ideals  Majority government unlikely  Minorities better represented  Political equality? o Every vote seems to count  Popular sovereignty o No direct representative-citizen link  More political competition – more choice o More representative… Other Alternative Systems  German Hybrid Model o Mixed member proportional system o 2 voters: candidate, party list o 5% rule The “-isms” and the Parties January 31, 2013 Parties form a bridging role between politics and citizens  Miracle glue of democracies Four critical functions of parties policies and programs package them up easy to understand recruit leaders – parties try to recruit really good leaders to become our leader parties oversee/control government depending on whether they are in government or opposition Political Parties  Group of people that nominate candidates and contest elections, seek to gain powers and control government  Organizations that are seeking to form a government Functions:  Socialize, mobilize function o Informing you, getting you to think about issues then to vote o Get you interested  Aggregate diverse interests and demands (bundle demands into packages) o How do we actually resolve those conflicts that result from different demands? Parties are one key method to do this  Recruit political leaders  Oversee government and ensure political accountability *bridge between government citizens Political Parties and the Democratic Ideals *Support popular sovereignty by mobilizing participation, recruiting leaders, keeping government accountable  Organize majority rule by aggregating diverse interests, structuring popular vote o Help represent minority interests  Key to political competition *How do we “design democracy” to achieve these functions?? How do we embed these functions in institutions and processes? Ideologies:  seek to promote particular political and social order o action-oriented o seek to promote particular economic and social order  have core concepts but can be quite flexible  ideologies reflect historical circumstances o ideologies change The Ideological Spectrum The Left – Socialist (More government)  Government regulation of economy  Policies help disadvantaged group  Policies to redistribute income  Taxation appropriate to fund redistribution The Right – Conservative (Less Government)  Greater reliance on the market  Fewer government regulations  No special treatment for special interest groups  Lower taxes Do political parties in western democracies offer voters a choice?  Tendency of parties to gravitate towards center and capture the average voter  Right-left tendencies breaking down? o Issues that confront us makes us think differently between government and society  Broad agreement on role of government?  Candidates separated more by style than ideology  Argument that post-911 world has changed politics…polarization Parties and Democracy  Decline of ideological differences among parties might explain low voter turnout?  Single member plurality systems encourage pragmatic parties o Encourage big parties with broad platforms o Better able to construct majorities  PR promotes ideological/interest parties o Harder to construct majorities but good at opposition function February 5, 2013 Midterm 40 multiple choice  Mainly lecture  Some readings read around lecture notes  Know country specific information  Thursday‟s class on midterm 2 How do we embed democratic ideals in democratic institutions “Democratic” countries have varying degrees of success… e.g. Constitutions and how rights are framed  Vertically and horizontally  What‟s included in rights and how they are protected o Bills of rights embedded in constitution  Britain doesn‟t o which is better in terms of democratic ideals e.g. Parliamentary vs. Presidential systems  different (and partial) paths to popular sovereignty e.g. SMPS vs. PR electoral systems  majority rule vs. minority rights  PR unless there is a low threshold any amount of vote will get you representation Can countries can be sort of democratic?  Yes o Those in eastern block o Probably have elections but are they free Islamic Republic of Iran  City of contrast  Modern life and undeveloped rural areas  We in the West say it is repressive and authoritarian  Citizens elect president and legislative branch and elect representatives o who is allowed to run? Governmental System  Has been called a theocracy (rule by clerics) with some concessions to democracy o Principle of jurists guardianship (jurist = legal scholar steeped in Islamic religious law)  Iran did not always have this – had a constitutional democracy but was an authoritarian conservative  Iran has history of being meddled with (US and GB)  Persian empire one of the oldest on earth  1906 Iran adopts democratic constitution but didn‟t work o has tried to work on a democracy o not a country of backwards rural workers o highly educated class o many have immigrated to US and Canada  Like Mexico had a high birth rate (lots of young people looking for work)  Revolution against the Shah in 1979 o Was a tension who wanted a strong Islamic state or a democratic state  How do we put Islam with Democratic ideals o In the end forces of ayatollah was in exile lead revolution and ran out in putting together a constitution and put to people in referendum  Show tension to bring democratic functions and principles to Islam  Supreme (religious) leader – Ayatollah Ali Khameini – wide range of responsibility o Has wide range of forces and link between branches o Revolutionary guard – internal defense of nation o Armed forces o Judiciary, media  All laws must conform to shari‟a and clergy  Executive – president Elected by people for a four year term o Forms a legislative branch and bureaucracy  Majles (similar number to Canada) o Elected by people  Judiciary (different systems of groups)  Clerics elect supreme leader and can remove him (under extreme circumstances)  People elect religious scholars  Supreme leader controls a lot and appoints members to council of guardians o Council decides who can run for office in the majles o Can also remove president on advice of supreme leader o Supreme leader is not elected and council is not elected o All other bodies are  System that appears to be mix of elements: problem is that it has a layer of officials that can practice that practice arbitrary rule  Many elements are democratic Political Equality?  Council of guardians vets all political candidates o Barred 2000 candidates from contesting 2004 parliamentary elections (85 of which were reformists in current parliament)  Women may vote, run for office, but many do not exercise these rights  Civic organizations allows as long as they don‟t question basis of Islamic republic (“guided democracy) o As long are you are associating properly Majority Rule?  Iranians cannot change their government democratically o Supreme leader appointed for life o Council of guardians not elected Popular Sovereignty?  Unelected council of guardians approves all legislation passed by parliament o Regularly vetoes legislation  Local elections introduced in 1999 o Overwhelming support for reformers  Supreme leader trying to balance tendencies in regime for more conservative rule in mind that the people wont like it Political Liberty?  Citizens (esp. dissidents) MPs subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention o There is repression and is getting worse  Freedom of expression is limited, media controlled  Freedom of association limited o Public demonstrations that “violate principles of Islam” prohibited  Religious freedom limited (majority us Shi‟a Muslim) o Morals police practice intimidation  E.g. women need to dress correctly  Has become more repressive Minority rights?  Additional seats in majles are reserved for non-Muslim deputies o Religious minorities may practice their faith but cannot hold senior government positions, face restrictions in education, property ownership o Bahai‟s face official discrimination  Ethnic minorities permitted to establish associations  Competition for parliamentary seats (reform candidates) restricted Rule of law?  Judiciary not independent o Supreme leader appoints chief justice, who then appoints other judges  Political and sensitive cases are tried in the revolutionary courts (due process often ignored)  Not black and white o Because of the unique histories they contribute to a unique way of trying to operationalize government  Has been a case where they‟ve tried to put in ideals of democracy with Islam Peoples Republic of China  has had past of being totalitarian regime  in 2013 is a different entity o holds more elections than any other country in the world  600,000,000 people eligible to vote o 1,000,000 villages run elections  fear of political competition is starting to emerge  less communist party control  political reform must follow economic reform o china has been growing at a rate at 8% per year o not black and white “Nondemocratic” Countries Authoritarian governments:  umbrella term for governments whose authority is not put to the test in elections (but not totalitarian) opposition is not tolerated o in Iran this is not so clear (great variation among so called authoritarian regimes)  to call a regime authoritarian doesn‟t tell you much o right winged (Conservative) usually military – Saudi Arabia, Latin America  usually very unstable, don‟t last long, relatively non ideological, often utilitarian  recent example of democratic transition (Egypt)  Saudi Arabia ruled as absolute monarchy – controls government o Left-wing (socialist) – china and Russia  One party government method for choosing a leader  Tend to do better jobs at governing and last longer  More ideological  Authoritarianism isn‟t best way to think of countries that aren‟t fully democratic Democratic Government  political equality  Majority rule  Popular sovereignty  Political liberty  Minority rights  Political competition (even democratic elitism)  Rule of law Nondemocratic government  political inequality  Elite rule  Tyranny (self-interested rulers USSR Stalin) or oligarchy (rule by few)  Political Subjugation (not free you are constrained)  Repression of minorities  Power monopoly (power not shared)  Arbitrary rule (rule by law – law used to suppress individuals) th Good Governance February 7 , 2013 Aspect of Governance – inequality Other ways to judge a country governance  Capacity of government to make and implement policy…or to steer society  Can the government we have identify and handle pressing problems o E.g. Toronto transit issues  How good is it at implementing solutions  Process is key – how is it all going to be done o Who is going to participate in figuring out issues  Government and corporations pertaining to the issue (e.g. for the environment)  Corporations, NGOs, academics, citizens, experts…depends on issue  Governance is not just about government (includes government plus who ever is involved in the issue) Transparency  information – government is telling you who is in charge and how much it is going to cost (means access to information)  when decisions are made an implemented openly and in accordance with rules o rules must be followed  Canada got an F on transparency o Journalists can‟t do their jobs without transparency Good governance criteria: Security and Political Stability  Capital is mobile  When people perceive your country as unstable its unattractive  Canada is super white Economic performance  Growth, jobs and budgets Public services  good health care, education, security, paramedics etc… Political freedom  freedom of speech  expect to access information Social Mobility  we expect that our kids wont be in a worse situation (education, social) than we are o expect to always be moving forward o need to believe that we can achieve Best Governed Country: Sweden Worst Governed Country: North Korea Levels of Social Justice  poverty  education  non-discrimination  health World Bank and good governance:  main problem in Africa was corruption and transparency  started to fund good governance programs  happened until the world banks stood back and asked why they were even giving aid o first aid was given because of government now good governance was a key to receiving aid  still all about the global south  UN weighs in on good governance o Kofi Annan UN, secretary general  Agreed with world bank  Said good governance is key  Believed that notion of good governance should be expanded and made bigger  Greater freedom etc.  Sustainable human development  Not just inflation Brazil  Has managed to boost governance indicators a bit  Up coming superpower  192 million people  natural resources power house o has everything o massive exports  woke up in the 1970s  in terms of governance was under military dictatorship until 1985 o extremely high crime rates o high poverty o high inequality o high levels of infla
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