POL218 MIDTERM STUDY NOTES
Characteristics of Countries
- Parliamentary Democracy and constitutional monarchy.
- Unitary state with fusion of powers.
- Parliament is the supreme body.
- Electoral system.
Early Development of British States
- Feudal Origins.
- Development of Parliament.
- Consolidation of State under Henry the 8 and Elizabeth: (1) Aristocracy to
commercial farming. (2) Navy expanded. (3) Expanded the British empire.
The Glorious Revolution of 1688
- Stuart Dynasty: (1) attempted to transplant absolute monarchy to England.
(2) Opposition to the monarchy intensifies from Puritans and Lawyers.
- Civil War and glorious revolution: (1) consolidated position of parliament.
(2) restoration in 1660 with the return of Charles 1. (3) Glorious revolution
of 1688 confirms position of parliament. (4) consolidation of cabinet
government by Pitt in 1720’s.
Liberal Democracy in England
- Industrial revolution and liberal democracy with the growth of urban
- Introduced free trade in 1848 and the British empire supports Britains
position in world economy.
- Rise of liberal democracy: (1) introduced the right to vote. (2) transition
from liberalism to liberal democracy. (3) prime minister said “one England”
with mass political parties and the creation of labour party and modern
British party system.
Political Parties and Elections
- Tories and Conservatives: - Traditional party of landed interests and upper
- Whigs and Liberals: - Traditional party of commercial and mercantile
interests - Gladestonian liberalism and laissez-faire - Displaced by labour
after WWII (modern liberal democracts).
- Labour Party: - Formed by trade unions and Fabian society.
- Electoral System: - Single member, plurality voting – ‘first past the post’.
- Key Features of the Constitution (1) Long been a unitary state (a system in
which no power is reserved for subnational units of government). (2) Has
fusion of power at the national level of Constitutional principle that merges
authority of branches of government contrast to principle of separation of
powers. (3) The Parliament is the supreme legislative and executive
authority. That includes the monarchs and house of lords.
- The cabinet government shapes directs and takes responsibility. Executive
power is held by the cabinet. - Britain is the constitutional monarchy. Crown passes by hereditary
Parliament and Government
- Parliamentary sovereignty: (1) no formal constitution. (2) the parliament can
overturn any law. (3) follow a Westminster model/fusion of powers.
- House of Commons is dominant: (1) scrutinize the legislation and rarely
- House of Lords (Hereditary, life and judicial lords and bishops).
- Cabinet Government: (1) increasing prime ministerial dominance.
- Bureaucracy and civil service: (1) ministerial responsibility.
- Unitary States.
Modern British State
- Decline of the British empire after WW1.
- Postwar collectivist concensus.
- Margaret Thatcher and Neo-Liberalism in 1980’s: (1) privatization and
liberalization. (2) dilemma of the EU. (3) return to economic growth in
- New Labour and the “Third Way”
- Britain in the 21 Century.
Implications for Comparative Politics
- Britains Historical firsts. (1) Parliamentary democracy (2) industrialization
(3) dominant power (4) Westminster Model – democracy rests on supreme
authority of the legislature (5) gradual and peaceful evolution of democracy.
- Early subordination of nobility to the monarch.
- Absolutism in France.
- Revolution and Reaction.
- Slow development of liberal democracy.
- Evolution of parties in France.
- Constitution of the 5 republic – hybrid system.
- Political economic and postwar France.
Absolutism in France
- Emergence of absolutist state: (1) end of religious wars by henry the 4 , th
marked a scent of absolutism. (2) royal finances, cut expenses but constant
need for loans. (3) Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin built centralized
administration, incorporated bourgeoisie into nobility through sales of office.
- Consolidation of Absolutism under Louis the 14 and 15 : (1) rationalize
administrative structure and increased army. (2) superintendent of finances
regularized revenues – disastrous military campaigns.
Enlightenment to Revolution
- Enlightenment: (1) impacted by the American Revolution.
- Prelude to Revolution: (1) Fiscal cost of external wars (they lost of money)
(2) failure to implement tax reform.
- Revolution in 3 stages: (1) storming of Bastille (2) storming of Tuilleries
(execution of the king) (3) fiscal and administrative reforms. - Thermidorian reaction and Napolean
Restoration and Revolutions
- Liberal revolutions 1830, 1848.
- Franco-Prussian War 18 70.
- Economic laggard trailed Britain, US, Germany through the 19 century: (1)
large peasantry slows industrialization (2) strong state protection for weak
- Fourth republic after the war: (1) restored constitution of 3 republic. (2)
extreme form of parliamentary rule.
Parties and Elections in France
- Two Major parties and many splinter parties.
- Elections, two stages for the president and parliament (they have both).
Constitution of the fifth republic
- Fifth republic 1958 (1) hybrid presidential and parliamentary system (2)
strong executive who is not answerable to legislature.
- Prime Minister and Cabinet have strong support from bureaucracy: (1) lots
of support from the elite public service.
- Legislature – National Assembly and Senate: (1) lacks independence of
legislature and parliamentary systems (2) deputies elected for a 5 year term.
- Regional government since 1983. Extended in 2003 (1) considerable
The Presidential System
- United Control: (1) Executive and Legislature controlled by the same party
(2) French president combines powers of independent executive branch and
control of parliamentary agenda. (3) president elected through two ballots.
- President is Powerful because of: (1) powers conferred by constitution.
Presidents appoints Prime Minister and Government. Conducts foreign policy
including relations with EU. May dissolve national assembly and call
Political Economy of Post-war France
- Legacy of the ‘strong state’ (1) state plays leading role in directing economic
- Postwar reconstruction in France: (1) a successive 5 year plan. (2) selective
use of subsidies, loans, and tax write offs. (3) reconstructing key industrial
sectors. (4) creation of national champions in selective industries. (5)
Creating and managing entire industries.
- Socialist approach post 1981 – massive nationalization.
Implications of Comparative Politics
- French exceptionalism (1) intense ideological conflict fueling political
instability and regime change.
- Country has been wracked by sense of malaise (1) lack of competitiveness
with Germany in EU. (2) Lower economic performance, shifting
demographics, and impact of immigration.
- Important reforms during the last decade involve parity law,
decentralization, health care, retirement, and industrial systems.
- Expect state to pursue economic and political goals. Japan
Japan Asian Miracle
- Introduction (1) strong similarities to Germany but key differences (2)
industrializes limited constitutions and militarism and fascism. (3) Japanese
feudalism and absolutism – supreme authority at center after generations of
weak rule. (4) total isolation from foreign threats. (5) centralized feudalism
(6) population divided into rigid social hierarchy: nobles, peasants, artisans,
merchants. (7) limited military force at the center. (8) rival americans forces
- 19 century, systems show signs of breaking down. (1) arrival of commodore
perry. (2) Lords of southwest organizes opposition – recruited and drilled
rich peasants as armed forces.
- Formal transfer of authority to emperor. (1) remains a ceremonial figure. (2)
tax collection unified under central authority.
Japan under the Meiji
- Meiji constitution (1) blended imperial supremacy with constitutional
protection of liberty, property, and personal security. (2) Emperor retained:
supreme command over army and navy, right to declare war, make peace
and sign treaties, and power to appoint ministers and high officials.
- Growth of modern economy (1) meiji launched program of industrialization
– WW1 accelerated pace of industrial outlet. Between WW1 and WW2, japan
still based on small factory system.
Japan: Asian Fascism
- Emergence of Japanese fascism (1) depression undermindes the system (2)
failure democratic forces to establish parliamentary democracy. (3)
Assassination of premier – inaugurated period of semi-military dictatorship
(alliance with nazi Germany). (4) Imposition of Fascism – national
mobilization decreased. (5) political parties desolved and replaced by
Postwar Japanese Politics
- Allied Occupation (1) reconstitution of society – large land owners virtually
- Constitution drafted by the U.S. (1) constitutional monarchy and
parliamentary democracy – emperor is reduced to symbolic role as head of
state. (2) two elected houses in diet.
Parties in Postwar Japan
- Postwar party system dominated by liberal democratic party. (1) owed its
success to booming economy.
- Late 1990’s, 5 parties contesting elections. (1) social democratic party (2)