Political Science 6 Week 6
Political Science 6 Week 6
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Date Created: 05/13/14
POL S 6 050514 Governing Institutions in Democracies Principal Questions How do different configurations of institutions in democracies distribute power What are the consequences of these configurations for representation efficiency and governance How can citizens in a democracy hold government accountable What is Power The ability to produce intended and foreseen effects The ability to control others events or resources to make happen what one wants to happen in spite of obstacles resistance or opposition A has power over B to the extent that A can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do Formal power vs informal power What is Accountability An obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one s actions Having to report one s actions justify them and suffer punishment in the event of misconduct Responsibility consequences accountability Vertical direct accountability the individuals and groups ability to hold state institutions accountable Horizontal accountability the ability of state institutions to hold one another accountable The Branches of Government Executive the chief political power in a state and implements all laws 0 Must exist in all modern states Legislative branch of government that makes the law in a democracy udiciary branch of government that interprets the law and applies it to individual cases Makes horizontal accountability possible or maybe combined into one unified government where horizontal accountability is not possible Potential Additional Veto Players a veto player is one who can stop a change from the status quo Strong and autonomous bureaucracy Strongly federalist system with powerful and partially autonomous subnational actors such as states provinces or regions The greater the number of veto players the more limited the power of the executive to bring about substantial national policy change End up looking at the electoral or party system 0 Scholars have tended to look at democracies as falling in between majoritarian and consensus democracies o Majoritarian greater vertical accountability less horizontal o Consensus greater horizontal accountability less vertical Forms of Government Configuration of relationship between executive and legislature Parliamentarism United Kingdom India Israel Presidentialism United States Brazil Semi presidentialism France Russia Westminster Model Becoming PM One party nearly always wins a majority of parliamentary seats Leader of majority party also an elected member of parliament chosen as PM However PM must choose cabinet ministers from among senior leaders of his own party in parliament to keep party from replacing him as party leader Westminster UK Coalition Parliaments Becoming PM Largest party attempts to form a government by negotiating with smaller parties to achieve a legislative majority 0 The more parties there are in the electoral system the harder it is to get a majority Trade policy concessions government jobs and cabinet seats for legislative support Ideological proximity Minimum winning coalition 0 Ideologically close to your party Montecitorio Italian parliament Rome The Power of the PM Controls Agenda and Can Pass Virtually Any Law Controls a majority of the legislature by definition Parties are very disciplined in parliamentary systems legislators vote as a bloc Prime Minister can dissolve the parliament at will though there is some fixed period beyond which the parliamentary term may not extend Checks on a Prime Minister Cabinet ministers may internally oppose Prime Minister39s initiatives but typically not publicly The Prime Minister39s party may remove him or her as leader of the party which results in removal as PM Parliament may force resignation of PM by vote of no confidence or by voting against a major policy However this also causes entire cabinet to resign and a new government must be formed The No Confidence Vote Advantages o Flexibility allows parliament by a simple majority vote to remove Prime Minister for any reason including mere incompetence o Presidentialism makes it very difficult to remove a president without legal malfeasance may tempt opponents to use force coups 0 May cause excessive instability in governments for political reasons 0 Especially in coalition governments where withdrawal of one small party can cause government collapse parties may use threat of no confidence vote as leverage to gain political concessions 0 Because of this they remove the PM as the leader of the party The British Parliamentary System the House of Commons lower house 650 members Conservative Party won 303 seats in 2010 Labour Party won 256 Liberal Democrat Party won 56 seats For the first time neither of the two major parties got a majority The Conservative Party had to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats to elect David Cameron Prime Minister Shadow cabinet follow the real ministers and if they catch them doing something wrong they publicize it POL S 6 050714 Question Time 30 minutes a day Prime Minister appears before House of Commons to respond to questions publicly expose problems air criticisms and allow Prime Minister to make a fool of himself Televised live and available on internet 0 http wwwtelegraphcouk news politics 884865 1Prime Ministers Questions 50thanniversary the best PMQs from the modern erahtml Ultimately governing party responsible to the public for its actions responsible party model makes it easy for the public to identify those who are in charge of failures or successes Two Parliaments Indian Parliament 0 Many political parties o BIP is the main opposition to the Congress parties I Try to form party with small parties who can sell out to you 0 Over represents the bigger party I Congress party control more seats o Indian PMs are checked by federalism British Parliament o A confrontation between the two parties Israeli Parliament Has a proportional representation system More parties have representation Presidentialism Separation of powers defines system 0 Executive and legislative branches distinct o The legislature becomes an independent decision making body o Elected in separate elections Single executive Presidents and legislators serve fixed terms The Risks of A Fixed Term President of Ecuador August 1996 February 1997 Took office during an economic crisis applied harsh neoliberal austerity measures Massive popular protests resulted To stop the protests Congress voted to remove him from office citing insanity Military had to step in to enforce Congressional action when Constitutional Court declared Congress39s vote unconstitutional Divided Government and Gridlock A situation in which one party controls the executive office and another party controls the legislature one or both houses More generously a situation in which the party that controls the executive lacks a majority in the legislature o More than half of all Latin American presidents lack a legislative majority even after offering cabinet positions to other parties to try to form a coalition Such situations can make passing a legislative program difficult for either branch of government resulting in gridlock Delegative Democracy coined by Guillermo O39Donnell Once an individual is elected president he she is quotthereby entitled to govern as he or she sees fit Power falls into the hands of a single person but unlike authoritarianism the leader is still held accountable at the ballot box by the electorate Horizontal accountability is weak only vertical accountability remains Main reasons democracy is poorly institutionalized legislatures too fractionalized to act as a check on executive power Forming a Legislative Majority in Brazil Two round voting offer the vice presidential nomination to another party in exchange for support Cabinet positions in exchange for support in the legislature Government jobs to opposition party leaders in exchange for support in the legislature The Problem Brazilian parties are weak Deals struck with party leaders may not stick if these leaders cannot guarantee discipline in legislature Presidential Powers Iudicious use of the president39s line item veto to allow the legislature to pass or NOT pass pork barrel projects for legislators home districts in exchange for votes on presidential programs Provisional decrees President issues decrees that have the power of law for 30 days unless Congress approves them permanently o Use of provisional decrees has increased over time despite efforts to limit them Advantages of Presidentialism Presidents have a national popular mandate and national legitimacy o They are not just leader of largest party who negotiate majority with other parties of their choice They are easier to vote out than the largest party Alternation is more common than in most coalition parliamentary systems Presidents have a national popular mandate and national legitimacy Presidential systems require negotiation of majorities by substance of individual bills not just general approach at start of legislative term Presidential systems deliberately make things harder to change this is a GOOD thing Presidential systems more stable because of fixed terms This makes long term planning easier Semipresidentialism Two executives president and a prime minister o President elected directly by Voters 0 Prime minister elected by the Parliament 0 Prime minister leads majority in parliament Works most smoothly if president and PM from same party 0 When not French call the result cohabitation France General Charles de Gaulle 0 President of France 19591969 0 Wanted both PM and president Designed 1958 by de Gaulle to facilitate presidential government presidential mandate with parliamentary control over legislation President names PM and cabinet presides over cabinet President can dissolve National Assembly and call new elections Line item veto Binding executive regulations Appoints 3 of 9 justices on Constitutional Court Can call national referendum PM is more responsible for domestic matters president is responsible for international matters and oversees domestic matters Cohabitation Situation where the President and the majority of the members of parliament come from different political parties Occurs three times in France 19861988 MitterrandChirac 19931995 MitterrandBalladur and 19972002 ChiracIospin None since France moved to holding concurrent presidentiallegislative elections both in same year POL S 6 050914 Checks on Presidential Power PM and cabinet members play a significant role Individual members of the National Assembly have little impact on policy making Limited ability to introduce or amend laws Most members attend few sessions have other jobs Political parties especially those in president39s coalition Large protests are much more prevalent than in the United States and can have significant in uence on government Constitutional Council with power of judicial review though only President and members of National Assembly can bring cases Unusually strong large and independent bureaucracy Semipresidentialism in Russia Starts off on a bad note with a constitution that enhances the powers of the president PM roots in the parliament are weaker o More dependent on the president than the PM of France The party system is more or less personally dependent on the leader 0 Not a separate system In general semipresidential systems don39t do well in maintaining democracies The Iudiciary Least studied branch of government in comparative politics Enforces a state39s laws check on executive by determining whether its actions are legal Plays an important political role interpreting laws especially the constitution check on legislature o Iudicial Review authority of the judiciary to decide whether a specific law contradicts a country39s constitution Marbury vs Madison Always assert your new powers when you39re telling those with money and guns to do what they want to do anyway Chief Iustice Iohn Marshall told Iefferson he had to obey the law but tli law was unconstitutional so he didn39t have to obey Marbury Iustice of the Peace judicial review and judicial power has more to do with internal power than external The judiciary Increasingly seen as important to both political and economic performance of states 0 Rule of law in promoting economic growth 0 Rule of law in preventing terrorism security threats 0 Rule of law in upholding democratic legitimacy What are the main challenges to judicial systems 0 Independence and legitimacy 0 Resources and training 0 Type of legal system Common law legal system originating in Britain in which judges base decisions not only on the written law but also on past court cases 0 Stare decisis practice of accepting the precedent of previous similar cases Code law legal system originating in ancient Rome and modified by Napoleon in France in which judges may only follow the law as written On average common law systems result in lower case load burdens particularly for the upper levels of the court system This makes judicial systems less costly and more efficient Brazilian Court System Higher courts slowly improving in legitimacy and capacity despite high caseload Lower courts remain widely despised only 183 of population expresses a great deal of confidence in justice system vs 30 who express virtually no confidence in it Nearly 35 of the prison population consists of pre trial detainees not yet convicted of anything 0 Length of pre trial detention often exceeds eventual sentence received Federalism Unitary systems the central government has sole constitutional sovereignty and power Federal systems a state39s power is legally and constitutionally divided among more than one level of government Symmetrical federal system all subnational governments states or provinces have the same relationship with and rights in relation to the national government Asymmetrical federal system different subnational governments states or provinces have distinct relationships with and rights in relation to the national government Representation Single Member Districts Each geographic district elects a single representative to the legislature o First past the post or plurality system SMD system in which the candidate with the most votes win 0 Majority or runoff system SMD system in which the winner must gain an absolute majority of the votes 50 1 frequently requires a second runoff election in which the top two candidates compete Advantages of SMD Gives voters a strong sense of identification with their representative Gives representatives strong incentives to establish local offices and do constituent service this in turn reinforces voter identification with representatives Tends to result in two party systems and governments controlled by a single party o Efficiency and moderation Duverger s Law Single member district plurality rule elections favor the two party system o 1 Mechanical effect the plurality rule is strongly biased against smaller parties denying them any representation o 2 Psychological effect because voters know this they tend to vote strategically for the largest parties only in order to avoid wasting their vote Because politicians know this they stick with stronger parties instead of starting new ones 0 Therefore only the parties that seem able to get the largest number of votes place first or second survive Exceptions Federalism when parties win a plurality majority at a regional level the national party system may contribute to have more than two parties even if these regional parties cannot win national power Canada and India Majoritarian versions of SMD also tend to have more than two parties If you have a two round voting system you can form coalitions for the second round Disadvantages of SMD Less representation of minority views and groups women minorities Lower rates of participation Apathy and voter frustration with lack of choice Strongly personalized politics Proportional Representation Districts each have multiple seats available Seats in a district are allocated on a purely proportional basis giving each party a share of seats that matches its share of the total vote 0 Closed list PR each party presents a ranked list of candidates Voters vote for the party rather than for individual candidates o Open list PR multiple candidates run in each district Voters vote for the candidate of their choice and the candidates with the most votes get the seats the party wins Advantages of PR Gives campaigns and elections more ideological and policy content choose based on closeness to party not personalities of candidate or in open list PR party first then candidate Participation rates increase Representation of minority views and groups increases gets proportion of seats Representation in PR Ticket balancing o Descriptive representation 0 Appealing to many constituencies for electoral gain Quotas o Difficult to do in SMD o Dramatically increases women39s representation
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