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PS11: Introduction to Comparative Politics
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  1. PS11: Introduction to Comparative Politics Professor Karen Ferree

  2. State • The set of permanent institutions and structures of authority in a country. • Examples: • The bureaucracy • The executive and legislature • The courts • The tax collecting infrastructure (eg. the IRS) • The police, prisons, army • State Change: VERY RARE

  3. Regime • The set of rules by which political power is allocated. How leaders are selected, whom they answer to, what powers and duties they have, and how they are removed. • Two main types: • Democracies • Authoritarian regimes • Regime change (from D to A or vice versa): more common than state change

  4. Government • The group of people who occupy positions of power at any given time. • Examples: • The Clinton Administration • The Bush Administration • Government change: very common!

  5. Nation • The idea or group of people that commands your loyalty. • Can be based on blood or allegiance to a set of civic ideals • May or may not overlap with states

  6. Democracy • A regime in which the highest offices of government are selected through periodic competitive elections in which virtually all of the adult population is eligible to vote. • Implies certain political and civil freedoms. • Intimately related to Liberalism, a political philosophy centered on the protection of individual rights from the predations of powerful groups and governments.

  7. What Democracy is NOT • NOT necessarily more equitable: democracy creates the opportunity for poor people to vote, but this does not guarantee redistribution or a more equitable distribution of resources.

  8. What Democracy is NOT • NOT necessarily faster growing • Argument # 1: democracies should grow faster (voters like growth). • Argument # 2: democracies should grow slower (voters don’t like painful adjustments). • Empirical evidence: a wash, no difference in growth rates between democracies and non-democracies.

  9. What Democracy is NOT • NOT necessarily “better” government. Can be inefficient and corrupt, just like authoritarian regimes. • In sum: not all good things go together.

  10. So why do we care? • Democracies tend to have better records on human rights. • Democracies allow citizens to remove governments regularly and peacefully.

  11. Current Patterns: • 1970: 30 Democracies, 20% of all Countries • 2002: 80 Democracies, 42% of all Countries • Diversity in world regimes: consolidated democracies, democracies in the process of consolidation, countries that have never experimented with democracy.

  12. Historical Patterns • What did early democratizers have in common? • They were all relatively wealthy • They all had established capitalist economies • They had large middle classes • Most were Protestant • Liberal ideas were firmly entrenched in the population

  13. A Democratic Benin? • Elections: 1991, 1996, 2001 • Per Capita Income: $380 • Literacy: 39% • Rural: 57% • Life Expectancy: 51

  14. Overview of Democratization Theories • Structural theories: Certain economic conditions are necessary for democracy to take hold. • Modernization theory: economic development • Marxism: an enabling class structure

  15. Overview of Democratization Theories • Voluntarist theories: Economic conditions do not determine everything. Political factors (leadership, institutions) matter also.

  16. Modernization Theory Shift from Peasant Based Agriculture to Capitalism (Industrialization) Series of Changes in Society Democratization

  17. Correlates of Industrialization • Urbanization: Turns peasants into workers • Education: Provides citizenship skills • Expansion of Communication Networks: Provides information and tools to oppose bad governments

  18. Correlates of Industrialization • Rising Wealth Levels: Moderate conflict • Cross Cutting Cleavages: Moderate conflict • Strengthened Civil Society: Creates organizational muscle to oppose bad governments

  19. Implications? • There is a single path to democracy • Democratization is long, slow, and peaceful • Democracy can be transplanted, but only to relatively rich countries. Yes, South Korea; No, North Korea, Vietnam, Benin.

  20. Questions? • What about the outliers? • Does this match the path of individual countries? • Do we buy the specific causal links in the story?

  21. Neo-Modernization Theory • Two distinct stages to democratization: • Transition (death of authoritarian regime/birth of democracy) • Consolidation (survival of democracy)

  22. Neo-Modernization Theory • Transitionoccurs for all sorts of reasons, only some of which relate to economic development • Consolidation only works in rich countries • Same correlation, different explanation!

  23. Improvements • Has no trouble explaining start-stop pattern we see in countries like Nigeria. • Also has no trouble explaining cases rich countries like Taiwan that resist democratizing for long periods of time.

  24. But . . . • Still very pessimistic about prospects for democracy where economic development is lacking. • Implicit policy message: poor countries should focus on growing rather than democratizing.

  25. Marxism • Who are the dominant classes? • Does democracy threaten their interests? • If yes, NO DEMOCRACY!!

  26. Marxism: Barrington Moore • Capitalist class structure more favorable to democracy than pre-capitalist class structure. • Capitalist class structure: owners of capital vs. laborers. • Precapitalist class structure: landowners vs. peasants. • Pre-capitalist elites rely on coercion to get labor, capitalist elites rely on markets

  27. Marxism: Barrington Moore • Democracy makes coercion more difficult. Therefore, it threatens the interests of precapitalist elites (but not capitalist ones). • Precapitalist elites therefore fight democracy with everything they’ve got. • Democracy is unlikely unless they are eliminated.

  28. Implications • Democracy is a violent process that involves the destruction of at least one class (the landed elite). • Democracy is not an automatic function of economic development. • Democracy is a function of big, structural forces, not individuals.

  29. Voluntarism • Countries with all the wrong structural conditions can still achieve democracy if certain political conditions are favorable. • Two political factors in particular are important: • Crafting of compromises • Leadership

  30. Voluntarism • Who are the main political actors? • What are their incentives? When might they embrace democracy? • How do we keep them in the game, especially if they are about to lose?

  31. Voluntarism • Providing security to losers: • Constitutional guarantees that protect the vital interests of political losers. • But, these only work if adhered to! • Enlightened leadership is often critical: leaders who inspire trust, leaders who place the survival of democracy over own interests.

  32. Implications • No single path to democracy. • Politics matters! • But, big question: is sub-optimal democracy better than no democracy at all?

  33. El Salvador Strikes against democracy: • Not far along the path of economic development • Very unequal • Landowners rely on coercive means to get labor Yet, democracy in 1992. How?

  34. General historical backdrop • Economy centered around export of coffee, a very labor intensive crop. • Landowners used force to get labor, strongly opposed democratization. • Peasants protest, military responds. • La Matanza 1932: 17,000 people dead

  35. General historical backdrop • Implications of La Matanza. The military would: • Meet protest with violence. • Police the labor market for economic elites. • In exchange, run politics, often through proxy party PCN. • Marks deal at heart of Salvadoran politics.

  36. General historical backdrop • But, politics were not static: • Alternation between moderates and hardliners in military • Periods of liberalization, periods of backlash • Bottom line: democratization never got very far.

  37. Timeline • 1960s: Moderates take power in military, allow some liberalization. • PDC, lead by Duarte, wins San Salvador, builds base around country. • 1972: Open competition for presidential election. • PDC on brink of winning • Military declares PCN winner

  38. Timeline • 1970s: • Increasing polarization • On the right, ORDEN and death squads. • On the left, terrorists and mass organizations. • Increasing violence • Increase in deaths, disappearances, arrests. • March 1980, murder of Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero.

  39. Timeline • 1980: Alliance between military moderates and PDC/Duarte. • Initiate land reforms. • Too little, too late. Further polarization. • Formation of FMLN. • 1980s: Civil war. 50,000 - 75,000 dead

  40. Why democracy? • Interests of primary players changed: • War changed the economic interests of the elites, and so too their political interests. • The left moderated its political demands. • The US stopped supporting the military, so the military became less interested in war.

  41. Why democracy? • A deal emerged: all parties gave up something, got something in exchange. • Helping this deal along: the UN, which ensured each side that the other would not fink out.

  42. Conclusions? • How important is economic structure? • Level of development not so important in this case. • Class structure was important, however. Economic interests of elites had to change before their political interests could.

  43. Conclusions? • However, structure is not the whole story. • Structure changed because of political actions. • Even after structure changed, actual outcome depended on politics. It could have ended differently! • Finally, international factors matter too.