Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics

1. Explain the relevance of studying comparative politics.
"The essence of comparative government as a study is to compare the ways in which different societies cope with various problems, the role of the political structures involved being of particular interest."(Dictionary of Modern Politics).
We all live in society and relate our existence with other human beings. We can estimate ourselves only in comparison to others or using some standards. Comparison can give us better ideas about our place in the world structure and help to set up goals to achieve. Comparative politics is based on that principle. It’s a branch of political science, which studies the processes of democratization, relations and interactions between state and society, ethnic norms and regulations, social movements and social and political economy. As every science it has its own methodological base, instruments, subject and object. Comparative politics uses such methods as synthesis, analyses, comparison, etc. Comparative politics uses such methodologies as the theory of rational choice, political and cultural economy and institutional approaches.
Comparative politics can have another title – comparative government as it focuses on the comparing the varying forms of government in different settings and conditions. It focuses on the governments of different states and nations and their comparison. This type of research is based on the synchronic approach. Comparative politics can compare the forms of government of different historic periods and epochs. In this case it deals with the diachronic aspect of the science.
Scientists who dedicate their lives to this science can focus on the politics, history and economy of one separate country or group of countries. Others can compare two countries by all known social, political, cultural and historical criteria. This science finds out similarities and dissimilarities between countries but it sets much more important aims than a mere comparison. Comparative politics tries to give answers to important questions, such as the reasons of the revolutions and social upheavals. Deep study of the history of the countries and them detailed comparison can give an idea about the future development of the country.

2. Political System. What is the political system idea about? How does Hurricane Katrina's outcome illustrate the working and the non-working of the political system?
Political system is usually defined as a social system of politics and government peculiar to a certain country. Usually it is defined in contrast to law, economic and cultural systems of the country.
Political system is usually composed of the members of social group, which is in power. Political system defines the way the government rules people accomplishing its governing policy. Usually it’s a system, which owns a political monopoly on the legitimate system.
Political system consists of two independent components and boundaries towards the environment. Two main components of each political system are citizens of the country and its government. Boundaries, which define the political system, are citizenship, territory and property.
Political system was designed as a way not only to rule people, but also to take responsibilities for citizens. It becomes more and more evident with the flow of time that political systems are not always perfect and not always manage to perform their main functions. New Orleans tragedy is a bright example of administration mismanagement. The region wasn’t prepared for the disaster, though meteorologists notified about the tragedy in advance and federal authorities were acknowledged with the possible consequences of the tragedy. It’s evident that the reaction of the government was too slow and ineffective. President has made an official statement more than one day after the tragedy. The National Guard and Army didn’t arrive in time to save people and maintain order. Innocent people who suffered in New Orleans and other citizens ask the government many questions after the tragedy. The popularity of president Bush has reached the lowest point during the whole period of his presidency. The terrible consequences of the tragedy show the poor work of the whole political system of the country, unmatched actions of the different institutions and indifference of the higher officials in the tragedy of ordinary people.

3. What do you most like about Great Britain and Germany. What do least like about Japan and Russia.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a constitutional monarchy. Formally, monarch is the head of the state, but in reality the executive power belongs to the Cabinet of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. Great Britain belongs to the small number of democratic countries, which don’t have a written constitution. Being a perfect example of democracy for other countries, and called a constitutional monarchy it doesn’t have a constitution and uses un-codified and partially unwritten document regulations. British political system became very popular in the world, partially, due to its colonial extensions in the past. Political system used in Britain, where an executive branch is drawn from and accountable to the legislature one got the name of Westminster system. To my mind, British political system is one of the most balanced and well-thought systems of the world.
Germany is another perfect example of the balanced democracy system. Germany is a democratic federal parliamentary republics, where the head of the government is elected by the parliament. Its main democratic principles are formed in the main law of the country – constitution of 1949. Federal Council represents federal states and their interests. Its power is balanced by the parliament, which should agree on the legitimate acts of the councils. I think this balance between federal and central powers is one of the most prominent achievements of the German democracy where the interests of the whole country are agreed with the interests of its states.
The Russian Federation is a federal republic. The president in Russia has big political powers. He forms the cabinet of ministers, appoints the official and chooses the prime-minister. He can also pass orders without agreeing them with the parliament. He is also the head of the Armed Forces of the country. I think it’s evident that executive branch in the face of the president dominates the legislature and one of the main principles of democracy suffers in this situation. Other problem of Russian political system is a big economic misbalance between centre and regions. It’s a very sad fact, that in the country where capital city and other big cities are flourishing, distanced regions stay on the level of the third-world countries.
Japan is a constitutional monarchy, based on Westminster system. High-consciousness of its citizens, government-industry co-operation and high-technologies development has put Japan to the number of most developed and richest counties of the world. It’s necessary to keep in mind the oriental mentality and obedience to authority to understand the closeness of Japanese economical and political systems. Mmanufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and banks work closely connected under the strict control of the government. All economical power belongs to big enterprises and big corporations leaving very little space for small companies development. Being a very closed political system, Japan doesn’t let it any foreign investments and creates very little opportunities for international business inside the country. A number of measures taken the by current government attempted to attract foreign investments to the country in order to stimulate economy which goes through the period of stagnation at the moment.

4. Take 2 story-articles from magazines or a newspaper and explain the kind of comparison that is made in the stories and how they are made.
There are several ways to make a comparison. It can be based on the similarities of the objects examined or, vice versa, on the differences of these objects. Comparison can have a certain plan and define the accordance of the elements to this plan. In the article called “Nader Again: so what?” Ken Goldstein examines and compares Nader’s attempts of 1996, 2000 and 2004. The author compares strategies used by Nader during his three elective companies and tries to estimate his chances and predict his last election results.
Another article “Housing boom may go bust, economists warn” compares the stock market obsession we face now with the one of the late 1990s. The author describes the situation of the 1990s and them leads a parallel to the modern days.
The article “US Deploys Slide Show to Press Case against Iran” focuses on the situation in Iran. The article compares the briefing to the “the flawed presentation on Iraq’s weapons program” in the Security Council, and warns that the Iraq experience is still “fresh in the minds of international decision-makers.”

1. Nadar Again: So What? Ken Goldstein
June 18, 2004
2. US Deploys Slide Show to Press Case against Iran
September 14, 2004
(Washington Post)
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_politics
4. Liphart, Arend. 1975. “The Comparative-Cases Strategy in Comparative Research.’ Comparative Political Studies, 8, 158-177.
5. Gary King, Harvard University. 2003. "Enhancing the Validity and Cross-cultural Comparability of Survey Research." Working Paper. Harvard University
6.A Dictionary of Modern Politics, Second Edition. Edited by David Robertson. London: Europa Publications Limited, 1993.).