Topic I - POLI 221 Comparative Politics Readings Notes...

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POLI 221 Comparative Politics Readings Notes Introduction Topic I: Introduction Kopstein Lichback Part 1 What is comparative politics? - in order to create your own political order you must learn about existing political structrues - state: organization that possesses sovereignty over a territory and its people o no two are ruled in exactly the same way - 2000 years ago Plato and Aristotle identified political orders and wrote arguments on which is the best. o Aristocracy (the rule of the best) o Oligarchy (the rule of the few) o Democracy (the rule of the people) o Tyranny (the rule of the tyrant) Regime Types - Democracy – competitive, multiparty elections, freedom of speech and assembly, rule of law – not all “democratic” countries are pure – some violate their own laws or conduct elections not free and fair - Communist Regime- ruled by a communist party that seeks to transfrom the society o When do we stop calling china communist? – it allows markets to determine economic life Tools of Analysis: interests, identities, and institutions - they represent dominant concepts in comparative politics Interests - People “organize politicaly when it serves their interests and support political regime types that maximize their life chances.” - They minimize losses and maximize gains - To understand politics within a country, one must study structure of material interests - Interest groups ie. trade unions, social movements, political parties Identity - No such thing as objective interests outside of set values - Identity determines what you want - Religion and ethnicity are two most common forms that identity takes o Very good predictors of voting decisions o Jews in USA usually vote Democrat while Southern Baptists vote Republican Thes chosen party has similar views to that of the religous group - Gender, sexual orientation and care for the environment are also good forms of identities - Democratic societies – strong for women’s rights, gay rights, and environ movements Institutions - Long-term authoratative rules and procedures that structure how power flows - Health care system
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- Democracies have institutions for electing their leaders, channeling flow of legislation, and determining whether the laws are just or “constitutional” - Two equally democratic but variable forms of electing a government o US ans UK – “first-past-the-post election” o Germany – “proportional representation” - Communist states o Need to create institutions for economic planning and administration o Need the institution of secret police - Islamic republic: ie Iran o Elected parliament o Over the parliament is an unelected Supreme Revolutionary Council of religous leaders who have the right to declare invalid legislation that contradicts its interpretation of Islamic Law Conclusion - Why are some countries democratic and others are not? o
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course POLI 211 taught by Professor Sabetti during the Spring '08 term at McGill.

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Topic I - POLI 221 Comparative Politics Readings Notes...

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