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Political Science term Paper

Political Science term Paper - Phang Jeffrey Phang...

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Phang Jeffrey Phang Professor Andrews Political Science 2 21 February 2007 “Religion is the Opium of the People”- Karl Marx What influences the outcome of a successful democracy? Two countries, Russia and Poland, both made a transition from a Communist dominated infrastructure to a democratic institution, yet one ended up with a balanced democracy while the other ended up with a system dominated by the President. The answer lays in the context in which the presidential powers were established. These powers of the President are directly influenced by the strategic factors and political culture of the country, which are in turn affected by the historical circumstances in which these presidencies have emerged. The context in which Poland’s executive powers emerged provides a stark contrast to that of Russia’s democratic development. Poland’s parliamentary influence and importance has history dating back to 1493. (Wiatr 443) Their parliament’s structure was more deeply rooted and played a greater and more central role than that of other soviet bloc countries even after the democratizing changes in 1956. (Wiatr 443) Because of the Parliament’s long history as an influence in the Polish government, the Parliament’s authority and structure was culturally assumed to be legitimate and significant during the formation the constitution. This assumption led the disputing parties of Solidarity and the Communists to automatically lean towards a parliamentary form of government when establishing the constitution. 1
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Phang The reformation that led to the democratization of Poland started with the rise of the Solidarity movement. Solidarity began as a trade union for shipyard workers frustrated with the structure of authority but then transformed into a social movement for political reform. (Mason 41-48) The movement quickly gained the support of nine million members within months of its creation and posed a new challenge to the communists. With the aid of intellectuals, Solidarity came up with a list of 21 demands including the restriction of the Communist’s power. Through its large base of worker support, Solidarity used members’ dues to acquire mass communication equipment, enormous capital, and office space in the process of becoming a formidable party. (Mason 41-48) Because the Red Army in WW2 imposed Communism on the Polish, there was no deep-rooted attachment to the communist system in the Polish population. This allowed the reformers of Poland to gain support more easily than in Russia and forced the Communist party, with encouragement from Gorbachev, to negotiate with Solidarity when setting up the government. (Shively) This led to the first round table discussions
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