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POL 190 Introduction to Comparative Politics

Department of Political Science

University of Michigan-Flint

Fall 2015

FINAL ESSAY EXAM

General Instructions:

 Complete TWO Questions: one from PART A, and one from PART B

 Format: Essays must be double-spaced; Use 12 point fonts; Use 1-inch margins

 Each essay should be not less than 4-5 double spaced pages

 Answer each question completely: all parts of each question are equally important. Answer

each essay question in separate essays: do not combine your responses into one essay

 Use all of the relevant readings/course material: Drogus/Orvis, articles, notes. DO NOT use

material from any other source: use ONLY the material assigned/required for this course.

 Provide author/page citations to demonstrate your familiarity with the assigned readings. Use

the system of citation with which you are most familiar

 Add a separate title page with your name. Staple both essays: do not use folders, etc.

 This assignment is worth 30% of the total grade

 DUE DATE/TIME: 5:00pm FRIDAY 18 December, Political Science Office, 220 French Hall

PART A: Do ONE Question from this Section

1. Economic Policy Systems: States have developed systems of basic economic policies like taxes,

spending, and regulations. a) Compare and contrast the economic policies of welfare states (Germany)
and a liberal market economy (Brazil) and identify their main differences. b) What are the basic features
of health and social policies in these countries? c) What are the pros and cons of the ‘welfare state’ vs.

the ‘developmental state’ approaches to economic policy?

2. Globalization and development: Globalization has transformed economic and political relationships

in states over the last 40 years. a) Describe and explain the main features of globalization and the main

consequences (both positive and negative) of this process. b) Compare China and India and identify how

they have had different experiences with globalization. c) What policies have led to success in achieving

growth and development? What obstacles stand in the way of each of these countries?

PART B: Do ONE Question from this Section

3. Political Institutions: Institutions have important effects on politics in democracies. Using a

comparison of the UK and Brazil, discuss the impact of the parliamentary and presidential system on

politics. a) What are the main differences in the way that these institutions function in practice? b) What
factors affect the power of the executives (prime ministers and presidents), and how are elected officials
held accountable and in each country? c) How do differences in the number of veto points affect how

policy is made?

4. Elections and Parties: You have been asked to assist in designing a constitution for a new

democracy in a poor developing country. There has been little experience of democracy, but a number of
political movements and parties have emerged and support the creation of a viable democracy. There is,

however, a history of violent political competition between groups across the country. Provide a
justification for why this country should adopt either a ‘single member district/simple majority’ or a
‘proportional representation’ election system. a) Describe each system, and explain the impact on

politics, and pros and cons of each option, given the particular conditions in the country. b) Use examples
from specific countries that use these election systems (e.g. UK and Brazil) to support your arguments.

PART C: OPTIONAL EXTRA Question: Complete ONE of the optional questions below (in addition to
the two questions for Part A and B). This optional essay is worth 15%. Your grade for this essay will be

used to replace a lower grade from the Midterm exam. The length for this essay should be the same as
for the essays in Part A and B (4-5 pages).

5. Federalism: What are the main similarities and differences in the operation of federalism in India,

Russia and Brazil? What are the pros and cons of introducing a federal or decentralized administration
for a newly democratic developing country? What are the most important lessons that newly democratic

countries could learn from the Indian, Russian and Brazilian cases about the organization of federalism?

6. Institutions in Africa: Use the article by Prempeh (2008) to discuss the problems of democratic

institutions and participation in Africa. What are the obstacles to maintaining the separation of powers

and checks and balances in the presidential system? What is the role of the legislature, the judiciary and
political parties in these new democracies? What are the most important lessons that we can learn about

the role of institutions in new democracies from this article?

POL 190 Political Economy

Political Economy: Interaction between economy/economic exchanges and politics/state

Basic Economic Policies
States have a basic ‘repertoire’ of policies that can be used to shape the economic environment

 Providing ‘Public goods’: provision of basic infrastructure, law and order, property rights

 Tax policy: direct or indirect resource extraction from the economy

 Spending policy: direct or indirect transfers to individuals and firms

 Monetary policy: control over interest rates, currency values

 Regulation policies: controls on production, consumption, business/economic activities

 Direct Intervention: state bailout/subsidy or takeover of businesses, state-owned enterprises

 Trade policy: tax imports (tariffs, protectionism) or subsidies for exporters

Positive and Negative Outcomes of Basic Economic Policies

Policy Positive economic impact (benefit) Negative economic impact (cost)

‘Public goods’  Creates stable investment climate

 Builds basic economic
infrastructure

 Enforcement: contracts, property
rules

 Overall cost (in taxes)

 Uneven/unequal access to security

 Uneven infrastructure
development

Tax Policy
(Who? How?

What level/rate?)

 Can reduce inequalities in wealth:
redistribution

 Create rewards/incentives for
production, investment

 State create ‘reserves’ that
stabilize banks

 High taxes can hinder investment

 Can slow/hinder growth

 Fairness? Can entrench inequality

 Low tax intake and high spending
leads to debt, unstable finances

Spending
(What/who? What

level/rate?)

 Stimulate consumption: “pump”
economy; reduce unemployment

 Encourage technology, innovation

 Create infrastructure, security

 Waste, inefficiency

 Can lead to inflation

 Deficits, debt can slow growth

 Can lead to corruption

Monetary Policy  Encourage investment/savings, or
stimulate consumption

 Control inflation

 Control exchange rate

 Stabilize interest rates

 Not always effective

 Danger of errors by policymakers

 Can lead to speculation, erode
confidence

 Can reduce investment

Regulations  Provide for minimum wage

 Protect workers, environment etc.

 Support competitive markets

 Enhance consumer confidence

 Adds to business cost/inefficiency

 Can lead to job loss, high prices

 Can discourage investment
Increases corruption, bribery

Direct
intervention

 Protect jobs, tax base

 Protects key sectors, capabilities

 Reduce financial dislocation of
crises

 Financial cost to taxpayers

 Risk of government
mismanagement

 ‘Moral Hazard’: creates incentive
for firms to rely on bailouts

Trade policy

 Protect industries, workers

 Restrict sub-standard goods

 Enhance domestic production

 Protects inefficient firms

 Leads to higher prices

 Lead to corruption, smuggling

POL 190 Political Economy 2

Implications:

 States have many strategies/policies for shaping economic outcomes

 State policies are a critical element in all economic outcomes (e.g. growth, investment,
employment, efficiency, stability)

 Economic policy can change over time

 Economic policy creates ‘winners’ and ‘losers’: no absolute positive or negative, only trade-offs

Classifying Economic policy ‘packages’
Economic policy varies with the extent/scale of state intervention in the economy

 Free-market (‘Laissez-faire’ or liberal) states (e.g. US)

 ‘Welfare states’ (e.g. Germany, Sweden)

 ‘Developmental’ states (e.g. Japan, South Korea, Brazil, India, China since the 1980s)

 ‘Command’ or communist economies (e.g. USSR, China until the 1980s, North Korea)

Strengths and weaknesses of 4 economic policy arrangements (increasing levels of state
intervention)

Policy type Strengths/advantages Problems/disadvantages

Liberal free market/
laissez faire

(minimal state
involvement in the

economy)

 Competitive businesses

 Enhanced innovation

 High profits, productivity

 Benefits of free trade

 Low taxes

 Instability: Booms and busts

 High inequality, poverty

 Risk of monopolies

 Limited protections for workers,
consumers

 Trade imbalances

Welfare States
(expansive social
policies to reduce
inequality, expand

market, protect
consumers)

 Competitive businesses,
innovation, high productivity

 Reduction of poverty,
inequality

 Protections from regulation

 Anti-monopoly policy
enhances competition

 Stability: reduces boom and
bust

 Slow growth, high-cost production

 High taxes, regulations

 Potential for high deficits, debt

 Policy abuse/distortion of markets

Developmental
states (‘strategic’
state support for
specific sectors)

 High profit, globally
competitive sectors or firms

 Targeted economic growth

 Protection for new industries

 Spending on technology,
innovation

 Trade surplus

 Low/selective taxes

 Inequality, unemployment in some
sectors

 Risk of policy errors, wasted
resources/subsidies

 Uneven development across
regions/sectors

 Distorted markets, inefficiency

 Corruption; centralizes power

Communism (total
state ownership/no
markets or private

property)

 Rapid economic growth,
poverty reduction,
industrialization

 Spending on technology, new
innovations

 Equality in provision of basic
services

 Lack of production incentives, limited
innovation

 Central planning mistakes, waste,
corruption

 Force/coercion in production

 Supply-Demand uncoordinated:
overproduction, underproduction

POL 190 Political Economy 3

4 EXAMPLE CASES

Key questions:

 Why are some states more developed/wealthy than others?

 Are states expanding or reducing their role in the economy?

US: ‘free market’ model

 Compared to other wealthy countries, U.S. has intervened little in the economy historically (in
19th century: regulation, subsidies, trade protectionism).

 Progressive-era increases in regulations on businesses, commodities, in the workplace
 After Great Depression in 1930s: government involvement expanded; programs such as Social

Security and Medicare have remained. ‘Keynesian policy’ to manage macro-economy: manage
fiscal policy (use tax, spending policies to stimulate demand, consumption, production).
Regulation for banks

 Since 1945: Chief champion of free trade and globalization (although not always consistent when
U.S. interests threatened)

 US has shifted between Keynesian and ‘monetarist’ economic policies: government intervention
is minimal at the level of state ownership, but extensive at the macro-economic level (tax policy,
interest rates). Since 1970s, ‘monetarist policy’ to manage macro-economy: use tax cuts, low
interest rates, allow markets to set currency values (to stimulate investment, production, supply)

Germany: ‘Welfare state’ model

 Early development of ‘welfare state’ policies: high taxes, extensive social spending programs to
eliminate poverty and raise standard of living

 After 1950: expansion of the ‘Social market economy’

◦ Combines highly productive market economy and generous welfare state

◦ Close relationships between private and public sectors. Unions and businesses
cooperate to plan long term business strategies (‘codetermination’)

 Germany led the creation of EU and Euro currency in the 90s: fast export growth in 2000s. Single
Euro-currency places limits on government spending

 Extensive regulations and state involvement in markets continues. Globalization has raised
questions about viability — caused high unemployment and problems financing social welfare
benefits.

Japan: ‘Developmental state’ model: success case

 After WW2: State created strong economy in targeted/strategic export-led policy through
regulation, large conglomerates

 State intervention led to the “Japanese miracle” — Japan became world’s second largest
economy after 1950-80s

 Economic miracle ended in 1990; bubble burst, reforms had led to less government control,
complicated response, very slow recovery

 High wealth, extensive government involvement in supporting, promoting particular
industries/sectors. Low overall social spending by government (no German-style welfare state):
depended on lifetime employment system within corporations

Brazil: ‘Developmental state’ model: unsuccessful case
 Classic example of evolution of developmental state policies
 Military regimes (60s-80s) used ‘import substitution industrialization’ policy to industrialize.

Initial success in stimulating industry and attracting investment
 Problems emerged with ISI: corruption, inefficient industries, high debts to finance program
 Since 1980s, ‘Neo-liberal’ economic model: Policies: deregulation, privatization, structural

adjustment, free trade, reduction in spending (on social policies)
 Under international pressure (IMF, World Bank), Brazil shifted to more neoliberal policies (SAPs,

free trade, cut spending, etc), abandoned state-led industry policy
 Since 1990s: very globalized middle-income country BUT also high inequality and poverty, high

dependence on foreign investment, foreign export markets

POL 190 Globalization and Development

Development Policies
Combinations of economic policies have been used by state officials to foster growth and economic
change. Most state leaders see an interest in fostering economic growth, but this is a challenge that may
not be completely within the control of the leaders of developing countries. In addition, the policy
measures that they take may not actually lead to the desired outcome.

Development policy has been a central element in addressing the gap (in wealth, income, industry,
technology, health/education, life expectancy, etc) between states.

There are two broad approaches: the market/neoliberal/laissez faire, and the state-led/interventionist
approaches. Note the way that these ‘schools of thought’ provide different explanations for the problems
facing developing countries and opposed strategies:

Policy Type Market/Neo-liberal
development policy

State-led/Interventionist
development policy

Does Economic policy matter? Yes

Yes

What causes development? Free markets Strong states/high-quality state
interventions

What causes
underdevelopment?

Too much state involvement Weak or poor/low-quality state
intervention

Main policy recommendation Reduce the state’s economic role Build the state’s economic
capabilities

Cases that confirm the
recommended policy approach

UK, US South Korea, Singapore, Japan

Test case: Why has China been
successful?

After 1979, opening to the market
has led to economic success

After 1979, strong state remains
active in managing China’s

economy

Test Case: Why has sub-
Saharan African been

unsuccessful?

Too much state intervention,
corruption

Weak states, low capacity for
decision making or provision

good public policy

Economic policy has shifted away from the state-led approach towards the market approach since the
1970s. Developing countries have made this shift in economic policy through two processes:

 Being pushed/coerced by other states, global corporations and international organizations

 Leaders made the decision to ‘shrink’ the state for domestic political reasons

Over the last 40 years, economic policy and differences in economic growth/wealth have also been
profoundly shaped by a larger process: ‘globalization’.

‘Globalization’: Basic Features

 Increased Trade: States gradually eliminated barriers to trade

 Increased Global Investment Flows: States eliminated barriers to investment and speculation.
Firms became globally mobile/diversified

 The increased power of the global corporations. Businesses organize production around global
supply and manufacturing chains

 Economic and social problems become ‘globalized’: environment, labor, product standards,
financial risk, etc

How? Historical Process of Contemporary Globalization: 1970s-2000s
The modern global economy is a product of deliberate state policy actions (and is not a ‘natural’ or
inevitable outcome of market forces)

POL 190 Globalization and Development 2

 Introduction of the floating currency/exchange rate system in 1970s: states have largely
abandoned efforts to control the value of currencies which are now left up to global investors

 Elimination of barriers to investment and financial transactions: 1970s-2000s: global financial
flows become greater than global trade flows by early 1980s

 Since the 1970s, investment decisions by global corporations have been based on a global
supply of labor and differences in regulations: lower wages and lower regulations have attracted
higher levels of investment and industry

 Since 1970s, reduction in transportation costs (impact on export/import of goods), and
communication costs (impact on services) have accelerated global trade. These reductions have
been sped up by state investment in infrastructure across the globe

 Globalization also pushes towards the elimination of alternative economic models, and towards the
adoption of relatively uniform economic policies in developed and developing countries after 1980s.
Outcome: globalization (should) lead to Convergence

Impact of Globalization

 Industrial Relocation/De-industrialization: global shift in industrial process. From high cost/wage
older industrialized regions to low-cost, low regulation regions of the world

 Accelerated economic growth, intensified resource use/demand

 Integration of global markets

 Rising inequality within countries and across regions

Problems created by globalization

 Increased risks of global economic breakdown

 Global economy is open to technological breakdown, terrorism, human error.

 Increased inequality between and within states

 Increased concentration of wealth and power in the hands of corporations

 Intensifies conflict between workers

 Leads to global unemployment and underemployment because of lower wages.

 Negative impact on the environment

Basic Questions for the Future of Globalization

o Can the negative consequences by avoided or corrected?
o Is there a role for the state/politics? Does globalization weaken/erode democracy?
o Is globalization a ‘race to the bottom’ (wages, standards etc undermined by economic integration

with China, while global firms maximize profits)?
o Will social policies (e.g. those in welfare states) become obsolete?
o Are international economic organizations the way to ‘govern’ globalization, or will they always be

just promoters of globalization?
o Is globalization sustainable? What will be the environmental and resource cost of expanded

global production and consumption?

POL 190 Globalization and Development 3

5 EXAMPLE CASES:
The three largest ‘emerging markets’ in the era of globalization (China, India, Brazil) have been important
engines driving the expansion of production, and have been the largest targets of global investment. Has
this experience been the result of similar/common policies? What might slow the further expansion of
these economies? Has globalization led to problems/challenges in those countries?

China
Economy and Economic Policy setting pre-1978

 Communist Era: (1949-1978): Heavy industry, mixed collective and small scale agriculture;
central planning; experimental phases in development

Globalization era: post 1978

 ‘Special economic zones’: experimental regions opened to global trade

 Opening to foreign investors, MNCs

 Emphasis on export manufacturing

 Managed/artificial exchange rate
Results

 Rapid economic reform; entry to WTO in 1999

 High growth (10+% over 25 years), massive foreign investment, rising role in global
manufacturing, trade, R&D; Capital surplus

 Growth of middle class, wealthy elite

 Increasing inequality: collapse of basic socialist era safety net

 Regional inequality: urbanization, migration

 Dependence on resources (oil, food etc); dependence on external markets

 Labor conditions: minimal change

 Social and environmental consequences of manufacturing growth

 Demographics: aging population, future contraction of workforce

India
Basic Economic Policy: pre 1991

 High inequality: caste and class

 Industry/high technology vs. agriculture sectors

 Rapid population growth, urbanization

 Urban-rural, and regional differences

 State intervention as policy tradition: ‘permit raj’, ISI policies
Globalization and India after 1991

 Slow liberalization, reduced regulation of markets, trade after 1991

 Trade barriers reduced, foreign investment increased, rising role in global manufacturing, and
services

 Rise of powerful global-scale firms: Infosys, Arcelor/Mittal, Tata
Results

 Uneven growth: high-tech vs. traditional economy

 Expanded privatization of state-owned assets

 Continuation of state controls, regulations

 Limited integration of domestic market

 High inequality, poverty. Slows growth

 Demographics: growing population, complexity/diversity

POL 190 Globalization and Development 4

Brazil
Political Economy in Brazil pre 1990

 State-led industrialization (ISI policies)

 High inequality: individuals, regional

 High growth, industrialization in 1960s

 High inflation, ‘lost decade after 1970s
Brazil and Globalization since 1990

 Transition to neoliberal policies/ globalization since 1990s

 Political process complicates process

 Role of the IMF: enforce new policies
Impact/Results:

 Reduced inflation, expanded foreign investment,

 Slow overall growth: return of dependence on agricultural exports

 Rising unemployment

 High/rising inequality, poverty restricts domestic growth

 Efforts to expand social spending/safety net

Oil/Mineral Exporters: Globalization has expanded the demand of raw materials and energy sources.
Has this had a positive or negative impact of this the producing/exporting countries? What have been the
similarities between raw material/energy exporters?

Nigeria
Economic Policy setting

 In colonial era: little industry, Nigerian elite employed in government. Agricultural exporter in
1960, early oil development.

 1970s: Oil= 80% of state revenue. Agriculture declines: Nigeria becomes net food importer. Oil
revenue contributes to corruption

 Debt crisis in 70s-80s: neoliberal policies adopted. Little positive impact
Impact of Globalization, rising demand for oil

 Expanded dependence on oil exports: volatile oil prices, revenue, exchange rate

 Regional inequality, high poverty, unemployment

 High debt: impact on state finances, provision of social services

 Corruption: local and national

 Weak agriculture and non-oil sectors of the economy

Russia
Economic Policy since 1991
1990s: transition to a capitalist economy (elimination of the communist economic system)

 Privatization, “shock therapy” transition after 1991. Immediate result: economic decline, collapse
of industry

 Rise of corruption, business mafias (“oligarchs”): loss of state autonomy

 Inability to enforce tax collection: loss of state capacity, rising internal debt

 Population decline, social/health crisis

 Economic crisis of 1997: high debt; reduced growth/investment
Impact of globalization/rising demand for oil: Transition to Oil economy since 2001

 High oil prices, growing global demand for oil/gas. High dependence on oil revenue high
growth, investment

 Volatile oil prices: impact on revenue, overvalued exchange rate

 Conflict over control of oil: state re-centralization of economic power

 Limited expansion of industry

POL 190 Institutions and Participation Notes 1

POL 190 POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS and PARTICIPATION in Democracies

Why does politics and policy making differ across democracies? While all democracies share
core/common features (elections, representative government, accountability and basic rights), both the
process (who makes policies and how) and the outcome of policy-making (the content of policies) varies
greatly across these countries.

Institutional differences are the key element that explains this variation:

 Institutions structure politics and decision-making

 Institutions shape the number of actors/players who participate, and the relationship between
them

A simple model can illustrate this process:

Institutions Characteristics of Policies

Structure of decision-making -Who benefits?

‘Veto points’ -Timing/responsiveness
-Coherence of policy

Needs, -Quality of policies/effectiveness
Demand for -Costs of policy
Policies Participants/Actors -Accountability
Number of actors (e.g. parties) -Transparency
Level of conflict -Deliberation

INSTITUTIONS

‘Institution’ refers to the basic ‘rules of the game’ that structure politics: these organize the decision-
making process (e.g. legislatures, executives), and the number of actors (e.g. the number of parties).

Two basic sets of rules shape governing/decision-making in democracies:

 Rules organizing the relationship between the central government and regional
authorities: Where is power located? How centralized is political power ‘geographically’? Are all
policies made in one location, or are some capabilities ‘delegated’ to sub-national authorities?
Two Options: Federal or Unitary arrangements

 Rules organizing the legislative and executive roles in the central government: How are
laws made and power distributed within government? Who holds representatives accountable?
Options: Presidential or Parliamentary or Semi-Presidential arrangements

A critical comparative concept in understanding the role of institutions is the ‘veto point’: these are
decision points in a political system where policy-making faces an obstacle or where a policy can be
‘vetoed’ by particular actors. Some arrangements of political institutions have more ‘veto-points’ than
others, leading to substantial differences in how and when policies are made (or fail to be made). Veto
points also tell us how much power rests in the hands of groups of elected officials.

POL 190 Institutions and Participation Notes 2

I. Unitary vs. Federal systems

The geographical/physical location of decision-making power is the main criteria: is all decision
making done by leaders in the capital city (centralized), or is decision making shared with regions (i.e.
decentralized)?

 Unitary: highly centralized

 Federal: division and sharing of authority between central state and regions

Basic
Feature

Degree of Centralization of Political Authority

Unitary

Federal

Power/authority is highly centralized in the
central government

Decentralized power/authority; regions share
decision-making power with the center

Cases,
Examples

UK, France, Japan, (and the majority of
the countries of the world)

US, Germany, Mexico, Canada, Nigeria,
Brazil, India, Russia

Some
Advantages

 Gives all regions a uniform
incentive to participate in central
government decisions

 Uniform application of laws, rights

 Centralizes economic
development and reduces
regional disparities

 Relatively efficient, small
administration

 Reduces the power of the central
government

 Gives regions control over their own
political affairs

 Allows specific regional needs to be
addressed by the central government

Some
Disadvantages

 May reduce attention to distinct
regional needs

 May create the conditions for a
cultural majority to dominate the
state and to marginalize
regionally distinct minorities

 Centralizes/concentrates power
and authority, and so endangers
citizen control over leaders

 Simplified policy-making with
uniform application may make for
large scale errors

 Costly, prone to expensive
government and duplication of efforts

 May create an incentive for
“separatism” and “secession” by
dissatisfied regions

 May create an environment for
culturally distinct groups in some
regions to be victimized

 May create multiple economic rules
and an uneven application of laws

 Leads to a complex policy making
process: conflicts over ‘who has
authority’

 Small regions may be ‘over-
represented’: malapportionment

NOTE: ‘Federalism’ is NOT synonymous with having a president, the separation of powers in a
constitution, or with having a democracy. The US is also not the only country that has a federal
arrangement of the state. Some non-democracies have been federal (Brazil, Nigeria, USSR). Federalism
is not the same everywhere: there are significant differences between the organization of federalism in
the Brazil, US, Germany, and India.

Degree of Regional Autonomy in Federal countries

Low regional
autonomy
(strong center)

High regional
autonomy

Russia India

US

Canada Brazil

Germany

Switzerland

POL 190 Institutions and Participation Notes 3

II. Presidential vs. Parliamentary systems
While all democracies have certain basic guarantees about the selection of leaders, accountability, and
the rights of individuals, the central government may be organized in different ways. The two most
common forms are the parliamentary approach (the fused authority system used in the UK, Canada,
and most democracies around the world) and the presidential approach (the separation of powers
system at work in the US and Latin America). A few countries combine elements of both types (France
and Russia for example).

The Presidential System (‘separation of powers’)

EXECUTIVE:
V elect President nominates

(selects Cabinet)
O

T “checks and balances” Judiciary
[separate
E elections]

R Majority Party/
parties
S elect

Minority Party/ approves
parties

LEGISLATURE

Representatives in “Congress”

Basic Features

 A written formal Constitution: essential to regulate this complex system

 A Formal separation of roles: executive (President) vs. legislature (Congress)

 Executive and Legislature have a competitive-conflict relationship: checks and balances

 Many regular elections are necessary: many offices/posts to be filled

 The timing of elections is fixed by constitution: makes for predictable, regular change, accountability

 Laws can start at several points (Executive, or Legislature): many representatives can act for
voters

 Consensus and deliberation: Executive and legislature must approve. Extensive review/scrutiny of
proposals

 Big role for the judiciary: oversight of laws (they must be consistent, and conform to the constitution)

 The party “losing” an election (the minority party) can still propose laws, have influence

POL 190 Institutions and Participation Notes 4

The Parliamentary system (‘fused’ authority)

EXECUTIVE:
V PM, Cabinet
O
T

E select LEGISLATURE
R elect Representatives in

S [single election] Majority/Governing a single Parliament
Party/parties

Minority Party/parties
“Opposition”

Basic Features

 Executive and legislative roles are fused: centralized decision-making (not separate powers)

 The Legislature chooses the executive officers (the PM and Cabinet officers) from the members of
the majority (a single majority party, or coalition of parties)

 There is a single ‘general election’ that all legislators contest at the same time: the maximum
term between elections is fixed by law, BUT

 Prime Ministers can call an ‘early’ election (why? The PM/Cabinet cannot act without majority
support, and may call on the electorate to validate their decisions and control of parliament)

 The PM can be removed by a simple majority vote in parliament for non-performance: a “Vote of no
confidence” (The PM is given power by, and is always accountable to the majority in parliament)

 Having a single election has an impact on parties: they are more coordinated, and focused on
policy/ideology and presentation of a clear ‘manifesto’ of policy goals in order to win a majority in the
general election

 “Parliamentary sovereignty”: Parliament represents the ‘popular will’. Majority rule in parliament
means there is a limited role for the judiciary, and a written/formal constitution is not essential

 Laws are proposed/implemented by the parliamentary majority: law-making is easy, reflects the
majority

An alternative: The Semi-Presidential System
Most of the world’s democracies use either the presidential or parliamentary system. For the sake of
completeness, however we should note that some countries use the ‘semi-presidential’ system.

 This is basically the presidential system (separately elected Legislature and Executive, with
separation of powers and checks and balances), AND with the addition of a PM that represents
the majority in the Legislature (like in the parliamentary system).

 This system operates in France, and Russia. Many new democracies have adopted this model of
government since the 1980s. It is also the system adopted by Iraq in 2004.

 The main advantage: it allows for the legislature to be more organized/coordinated in balancing
the powers of the president, and for holding the president accountable. It is an improvement of
the checks and balances of the presidential system

 The semi-presidential system can have two negative results. It may deepen conflict between the
2 branches of government: it leads to an inevitable conflict over defining the powers of the
president and the powers of the PM. Second (paradoxically), the system may actually make the
president stronger when the president, PM and majority are all from the same party.

POL 190 Institutions and Participation Notes 5

Accountability in Presidential and Parliamentary systems of government

Presidential

Parliamentary

Vertical accountability
(control over elected

officials by voters)

 Multiple elections: many
opportunities for voters

 Regular election schedule:
predictable, allows voters to
evaluate officials and to
replace/remove officials

 Single General Election:
raises stakes and visibility of
choices for voters and
candidates

 Irregular schedule: retains
public/majority control over
whole legislature

Horizontal accountability
(control over elected

officials by other players
within government)

 Formal separation of
powers (executive,
legislative, judicial)

 Checks and balances:
mandatory oversight, joint
decision-making by
executive and legislature

 Veto power of president

 Impeachment of elected
officials

 Judicial review: courts have
oversight

 Vote of no confidence:
immediate removal and
replacement of the
PM/cabinet

 Public, regular reporting by
PM/Cabinet to Majority MPs.
Executive accountable to
majority members

 Opposition in parliament acts
as public watch-dog (non-veto
oversight) of majority

 Judicial review: courts have
oversight (limited)

Combining Political Institutions

So far we have looked at these institutional arrangements/choices (federal vs. unitary, and presidential
vs. parliamentary) as separate ways of structuring government. We should, however remember that
these sets of rules are combined in specific countries and that the combination is the basic building
blocks for organizing democratic politics.

The combination of institutions allows us to make several observations about important aspects of
politics in democratic countries:

 The number of key ‘players’ in the system and the number of ‘veto points’

 The level of conflict among the levels and branches of government

 The effectiveness of government (e.g. ability to pass laws, or respond to crises)

 The ease (or difficulty) of changing the rules (e.g. the constitution)

 The number of opportunities that voters have to elect representatives (how many elections—
‘vertical accountability’)

 The number of representatives that voters have to act on their behalf

 How elected officials are held accountable while in office (‘horizontal accountability’)

 The number of opportunities that lobbyists/interest groups can have to influence the process

POL 190 Institutions and Participation Notes 6

Executive-Legislative System

Presidential
(separation of powers)

Parliamentary
(fusion of powers)

Geographical
Centralization

of Authority

Federal
(de-centralized

decision-making)

Maximum veto-points,
largest number of decision

makers
(e.g. US, Nigeria, Brazil,

Venezuela)

Few veto points in the central
government, important veto
points at the regional level

(e.g. India, Canada,
Germany)

Unitary
(centralized decision-

making)

Important veto points in the
central government, no

important veto points at the
regional level

(e.g. Peru, Colombia, Chile,
South Korea)

Minimum veto-points,
fewest number of decision

makers
(e.g. Japan, UK, Spain,

Sweden)

Thus far the discussion has focused on the institutions that structure government. Within each
set/combination of rules, however, the number of actors is also a critical ingredient:

 How many parties are there in the legislature?

 Why are there more parties in some countries than in others?

These are critical issues, as the number of players can add an additional layer of complexity in the
system. In some democracies, there may coalitions of parties that control the legislature. In others there
may be a single party that controls the legislative and executive functions.

The next section discusses how parties interact with governing institutions in democracies to create
specific kinds of results.

POL 190 Institutions and Participation Notes 7

III. Party Systems and Election Rules in Democracies
Central Question: Why does the number of parties differ across democracies?

The number of parties in a democracy has implications of the question for the number of choices/options
that voters have, the level/quality of public debate, and the ability of voters to ensure oversight/
accountability over government

Types of ‘Party Systems’: over time, a democracy may develop a relatively stable ‘set’ of parties

Dominant party system Multiple parties exist, but one wins every election and governs
continuously. e.g., Mexico’s PRI until 2000; Japan’s LDP until 1990s, the ANC in South Africa
since 1994

Two-party system Only two parties win, although more may compete. e.g., UK, U.S.

‘Two and a half’ party system Two large parties win most votes but not enough for majority,
which requires coalition with a smaller third party e.g., Germany, Canada

Multi-party systems More than two parties win enough seats and must govern in coalition
e.g., India, Israel, most of Western Europe

2 Explanations for the number of parties in a democracy

Sociological Explanation

 Party systems reflects the divisions or ‘social cleavages’ e.g. divisions between classes (in the
UK and Germany) or between regions/culture/languages (e.g. in India, Canada, Nigeria)

Institutional Explanation

 Election rules (the system for converting votes into seats) shapes the party system. ‘Duverger’s
Law’ Simple majority elections rewards/leads to the survival of two parties; other systems lead
to multiple parties in the legislature

Election Rules in Democracies
2 most common systems for legislative elections: ‘First Past the Post’ (FPTP) or simple majority vs.
Proportional Representation (PR)

The First Past the Post, ‘Simple Majority’ or ‘Majoritarian’ Election Rule (e.g. the US, UK, India,
Nigeria) (also known formally as the ‘single member district plurality’ election system)

Basic Rules

 ‘First Past the Post’ (FPTP) system: the candidate with a majority of the votes wins election/seat

 There is only one winner in an election in a geographical district (hence a ‘single member district’)

 There is little incentive for voters who do not support one of the 2 likely winners in a district

 The party winning the most districts/seats ‘wins’ the election (and controls the legislature)

 The largest 2 parties undercut/absorb smaller “Third” parties (the two biggest parties dominate)

 Interest groups and financial backers pick and support one or both of the 2 likely winners (not
third parties)

 The media focuses on a ‘horse race’ of the 2 front runners (not third parties)

Two Scenarios of a “Winning” Candidate under FPTP election Rules

1. Simple (absolute) Majority winner
Candidate 1  49%
Candidate 2  51% (wins election)

2. ‘Plurality’ Winner (not an absolute
majority)
Candidate 1  25%
Candidate 2  40% (wins election)
Candidate 3  35%

POL 190 Institutions and Participation Notes 8

Advantages of the FPTP election rule

 Aggregation of divergent interests/demands: The 2 leading parties make efforts to reach out to
many voters, and representation of groups lies within parties

 Leads to clear winners who have authority (a single winner in each district, and a single party
controlling the legislature): voters have a clear focus for accountability

 Easy-to-follow system for voters, media, interest groups: low information/skill burden for voters

Problems of the FPTP election system
The FPTP system has been observed to create several important problems: it often results in a legislature
or government that does not reflect the choices of a majority of voters (a core principle of democratic
government)

 The FPTP rule rewards the party that wins the most seats, not necessarily the most votes. It may
thus lead to unrepresentative government and legislation (a violation of the basic goals of
representative democracy).

 The FPTP election rule undermines the motivation to vote (and thus depresses voter turnout over
time).

 Uneven attention to districts in elections: Smaller districts and very highly contested ones will be
“battleground” districts in elections. Parties will spend most of their efforts trying to win in those
districts, and may make special appeals to voters there in order to gain their support (even
though those districts have less than half of the total voters).

 Small party voters are “wasted”. supporters of small parties are effectively excluded. They may
have had good policy ideas, or be the representatives of a marginalized group. They have no
chance of winning a seat or control of the legislature. Their best option after the election is to
merge with a larger party and so gain some representation in the legislature.

 Reduced options, choices for voters over time: The FPTP election system reduces voter’s
choices to the two front runners and their policies. The candidates of the two ‘viable’ parties
contesting elections at all levels seek to maximize their share of the vote in many varied districts,
so the leaders of these parties have an incentive to offer broad programs that appeal to all.

Proportional Representation (PR) Election system (e.g. Germany, Sweden, Brazil)

Basic Rules of the PR system

 Seats assigned to parties as a percent of the total votes received

 Result: many smaller parties get representatives elected

 Coalitions have to be formed to pass legislation or to form a government

 Voter turnout is high, as no votes are “wasted”

 Parties are more focused and target specific ideas or interests

PR election systems operate with what are called “multi-member districts”: each district would have
several representatives from each party. The PR system thus increases the number of legislators who
represent voters in each district to more than a single majority ‘winner’.

Who ‘wins’ a PR election? Answer: Coalitions of parties.

“What if many parties get only a small percentage (say, 1%) of the total vote”? Answer: Hurdles or
Thresholds. Many countries operating the PR election system have a ‘minimum required share of the
national vote’ (a hurdle): parties have to get a minimum of 5% (a random number, it could be set at 2, 8,
or 10%) of the total vote to get their first seat. The effect: reduction of the number of very small parties in
the legislature. Parties that can only muster less than 5% have a strong incentive to merge, and to form a
larger vote-winning group.

Advantages of the PR system

 Representation: The legislature more accurately reflects the voting choices of the public

 It maximizes turnout, and encourages an active and informed public

POL 190 Institutions and Participation Notes 9

 Increases the number of voter options: more parties/platforms that voters can choose from

 Creates many more representatives for voters: increases chances for accountability

 Policymaking by compromises: policy is always the product of explicit deals between parties, and
directly ties to voters demands

Problems of the PR Election rule

 Election rule creates an incentive to the fragmentation of politics: small parties rewarded

 Accountability: Voters have difficulty in assigning credit or blame, or to evaluate various policies

 Elections become intense conflicts between small parties and even factions within parties

 Weak coalitions can lead to unstable government

 Compromises between parties in coalitions can dilute policy options

 Uneven representation: regional/local problems may get less attention than national issues

Election Rules Compared: ‘First Past the Post’ vs. ‘Proportional Representation’

FPTP PR

Main focus of system geography/district centered Program/party centered

# of competitive parties 2 more than 2

Need for coalitions generally low generally high

Impact on small parties negative, unless small parties
have strong regional support

base

positive, encourages their
formation and organization

Voter turnout

tendency to decline or be low tendency to be high

Combining Political Institutions Part 2: We can now integrate the governing institutions with the
number of parties: the result is a more fine-grained comparison of politics across democracies

Executive-Legislative System

Presidential

Parliamentary

Election system PR FPTP PR FPTP

Federal

Brazil (most
fragmented, most

veto points)

US, Nigeria

Germany*

India, Canada

Unitary

Peru

France

South Korea

UK (least
fragmented,
fewest veto

points)

Summary
The ‘payoff’ of investigating how institutional “rules of the game” shape politics:

 They provide an explanation for the rational motivations of politicians

 They explain the nature of the legislative process and content of laws/policies

 They allow us to compare the powers and capabilities of executive branch politicians
(presidents vs. prime ministers)

 Institutional rules can be changed and re-arranged. New democracies especially have the
opportunity to create constitutions that combine different institutional rules.

 They are important indications of the range of choice and options open to voters

 They are important guidelines for the controls that voters have over their representatives

 We can explain and predict the degree of conflict in politics by understanding how institutional
rules affect the number of players and their degree of cooperation or competition

POL 190 Institutions and Participation Notes 10

INSTITUTIONS and PARTICIPATION: List of Key Terms and Concepts

 Institution

 Centralization

 Federal/federalism

 Unitary

 Malapportionment

 Presidential system

 Parliamentary system

 Semi-Presidential system

 Executive

 Legislature/legislative

 Judiciary

 Checks and balances

 Separation of powers

 Fusion of powers

 Cabinet

 Representatives

 Member of Parliament

 Prime Minister

 Majoritarian

 Coalition

 Opposition

 General election

 Early/Snap election

 Vote of no confidence

 Party manifesto/platform

 Parliamentary sovereignty

 Semi-presidential system

 Veto points

 Horizontal accountability

 Vertical accountability

 Party system

 Two party system

 Multi-party system

 Social cleavages

 Duverger’s Law

 First past the post (FPTP) (simple
majority/single member district plurality)
election system

 Proportional representation (PR)
election system

 Closed-list PR election system

 Open-list PR election system

 Multi-member districts

 Voter Turnout

 PR election hurdle or threshold

 Third party

 Median voter

1

POL 190 Introduction to Comparative Politics
Department of Political Science

University of Michigan- Flint

Fall 2015

Current Affairs Major Paper: GUIDELINES

This Project is worth 10% of the total course grade. There are two objectives: a) give students
opportunities to use available electronic resources at the UM-Flint library, b) provide students an
opportunity to connect on of the concepts introduced in the course to recent developments in a specific
country.

Completed Projects are due by WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 16 by 5.00pm at the POL Department office,
220 French Hall.

1. Requirements
The core activity for this paper is to identify relevant articles from news sources, and write a brief report
on a specific issue/conflict.

a) Essays must make use of (and refer to) at least four (5) news articles. These articles may be from
newspapers, news magazines, or academic journals. These sources must be published: online webpages
do not qualify. Class texts and articles (e.g. Drogus/Orvis) may be used as background sources, but do
not qualify as one of the four cited sources and should not be used as a source for substantial sections of
the paper.

b) Use concepts/processes from class to discuss the specific case selected. Students may refer to and
draw from Drogus/Orvis text (although this will not be adequate as a source). Comparison of the
country/case with other countries described in Drogus/Orvis is recommended.

c) Should point out why/how the issue has recent significant for the politics of the country being
studied. Papers on broad historical topics or past events, on non-political issues will not qualify as having
met core requirements for this project.

d) While the paper is about a current/contemporary political issue, general information from unofficial
websites, ‘blogs’ or special interest groups will not be accepted as valid sources. ‘Google’ searches are
strongly discouraged. Acceptable news sources include: newspapers, news wire services.

e) Format:

 Completed papers should be not less than 6 pages

 1-inch margins, Double spaced, 12 pt. font

 Organize the paper into sections (with subheadings) including an ‘Introduction’ section and a
‘Conclusion/discussion’ section

 The paper should use the APA, MLA or Chicago citation format

2

2. Country Assignment

The Current Affairs Major paper must be written on one of the topics listed below. Choices are arranged
by student UMID numbers: identify your choices by locating your group using the first digits of your
UMID number (on your UMID card):

Student Group:
UMID Range

Paper Topic Choices
(choose one topic from these options)

Regimes: Stability or
Change Processes

Political Economy Elections and
Institutions

179000-11599999 Democratization in
Myanmar

Impact of low oil prices
on Nigeria

Canada 2015

12400000-25099999 Democratic Consolidation in
Tunisia

Debt crisis in Greece Turkey 2015

25200000-32899999 Democratic Consolidation in
Guatemala

Financial crisis in China Nigeria 2015

32900000-47999999 Democratization in Nepal Education policy in
Germany

Burkina Faso 2015

49600000-61699999 Non-Democracy in Cuba Energy policy South
Africa

Israel 2015

64700000-77599999 Democratic Consolidation
or Erosion in Pakistan

Corruption in Brazil Spain 2015

80600000-97099999 Non-Democracy in Belarus Health care policy in
China

Indonesia 2014

Please feel free to see me to discuss your topic/ideas at any time for feedback and advice.

3. Access to Sources (UM-Flint Library Resources for Country-specific News)

This project must be based on news articles that are available through one or more of the UM-Flint
library’s database search engines.

 The UM Flint library website is at: http://www.umflint.edu/library/. Select “Databases: Indexes
and Full Text Articles” from the main page.

 Select one of the available databases (Proquest or Lexis-Nexis are recommended)

 Searching the databases: Type in a few of the terms/descriptors for the topic. This will require
trial and error as well as good judgment. Typing the words “India” and “Pakistan” for instance
will generate a list of all the articles that include those terms in the title or text. This broad
search will result in many (too many) citations: narrow the search by date, kind of source (only
newspapers, for example), or by adding additional search terms.

 Select and read/scan the best (most useful) article for the paper. Give preference to content-
rich articles (usually longer ones). Use these articles as the sources for the paper.

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