After the Russian Revolutions of 1917, the Bolshevik Party instituted a regime in which all political decision making was concentrated in a small group of revolutionaries who were never subject to popular election.
Basic guarantees of due process of law, as well as protections of freedom of speech and dissent, were completely absent.
The system was built for the benefit of the common Russian proletarian worker or peasant farmer.
All Russians would now enjoy benefits such as guaranteed employment, and the system would finally be blind to birth status into social classes.
This has been a topic of debate for philosophers and social scientists.
Larry Diamond and Robert Dahl are two political scientists who have established minimum standards to determine whether a state deserves consideration as a democracy or not.
The people can choose representatives to exercise their power.
Direct democracy allows the people to decide if a policy will be enacted or not.
Democracy is a political system in which all of the people of the state or political division are involved in making decisions about its affairs, typically by electing representatives to a parliament or similar assembly.
In most instances, the people wield power over the policies of the state through indirect democracy, which means they vote for representatives who will be able to make decisions.
In the United Kingdom, every adult citizen can cast a vote for a member of parliament from their area, and the parliament can pass laws that apply to everyone.
Direct democracy is a less common method of empowering the people with political decision making and is addressed later in the chapter.
A referendum is when the government proposes a specific policy change to voters, at which point a national election is held in which voters cast a "yes" or "no" vote on the question.
A successful "yes" vote means the policy is binding.
The Russian Constitution was passed by a national referendum in 1993.
In 2004, the European Union had a draft constitution that was to be put to a vote in each member state, but this vote was put off in the United Kingdom after French voters rejected the constitution.
States can either seek the input of their people, or try to boost the legitimacy of a policy by staging a national referendum in which voters may vote "yes" or "no" on a policy question, but unlike a referendum, the results of a plebiscite are not.
In a democracy, people play an active role in policy making.
It is necessary to explain a concept of growing significance in civil society in order to understand this.
The aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest the will of the people is called civil society.
People join organizations, clubs, and institutions to express their interests.
All the way down to local churches and parent-teacher organizations are included in these groups.
The freedom for people to join, leave, and speak freely in the groups that formed civil society is called associational autonomy.
There is a large, healthy, and freely organized civil society in which policymaking authorities are influenced by civil society organizations who themselves are in free competition with each other for the attention of the policymakers.
If a country were to consider an increase in the required fuel efficiency for automobiles, many potential stakeholders would have strong opinions on the matter.
Corporate business interests in auto manufacturing might be concerned about the rising costs of manufacturing.
The autoworkers union might worry that lower profits for their employer might push their wages down.
The new standard might reduce the need for oil drilling.
Consumer groups might be optimistic about the potential savings on gasoline.
All of these groups would be free to lobby the government, engage in public awareness campaigns, back candidates for office based on their position on the issue, stage protests, or all manner of other activities in order to influence the final policy outcomes.
Their success or failure is determined by the free competition they participate in for support of their ideas against those of other groups.
In a state society, the state would have a strong role in controlling which groups are allowed to provide their input, and which are left out.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the most well-known example of a basic rights being defined in international law.
The right to believe what the individual wants, to speak and write about those beliefs, and to enjoy one's own culture are all included.
One recent development is the emergence of regimes where elections are held in which the winner takes office and exerts political power, yet these rights are not universally respected by the state.
There is a new difference in democratic regimes; liberal democracies and illiberal democracies.
Liberal democracies hold regular, free, fair, competitive elections in addition to respecting the rights of the people.
The legitimacy of the elections in liberal democracies is called into question because of the restrictions and violations of the rights of the winning candidate.
Since the rise of Putin, Russia has been characterized as an illiberal regime.
Transition democracies, which are former authoritarian systems attempting to integrate democratic practices into the regime, may not yet display the full characteristics of liberal democracies because of the lack of an established democratic political culture among the people.
Rule of law means that the government is not allowed to change the rules of the political process to benefit its own interests or hold on to power.
A constitution limits the power of the government and each of the state's institutions.
Most constitutions are summarized in one formal document called the constitution for the country, and these are amended and/or reinterpreted over time as society's needs and demands change.
The United Kingdom, arguably the originator of the idea of constitutionalism, has no single document that defines or summarizes its constitution, but the entire historical body of law and British tradition come to be.
Rule of law and constitutionalism do not require a single written constitution.
Since its independence in 1960, Nigeria has had many written constitutions, but not a true commitment to the rule of law.
Protection against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, or ethnic group is one of the specific protections.
There is a lot of debate on whether political parties are necessary to democracy or not.
No modern liberal democracy has created a regime that functions without them.
As long as majority rule is a fundamental feature of democracy, there must be some way for a majority to organize itself in order to govern as the majority, and for better or worse, that is the role of the political party.
In democratic regimes, political parties organize majority rule, recruit elites to run the government, educate voters, and make participation simpler for the average voter.
A political party is an institution that seeks to gain control of government for the purpose of wielding political power to achieve goals common to its members.
Large-scale democracy can be made possible by a series of crucial roles performed by parties.
They organize majority rule by nominating candidates.
It's much easier for the average voter to express their wishes in elections if they have an easy shorthand to act on which candidates support or oppose certain policies.
Party officials want to make sure that their reputation is not damaged by the current officials, so they hold elected elites accountable for their actions.
They prevent tyranny of the majority since there can be disagreements between different parties.
Parties are different from interest groups and other civil society institutions.
Candidates for office are run by political parties.
Interest groups don't actually compete for control of political offices.
Political parties tend to be policy generalists, with a broad array of policy concerns grouped under a "big tent" in which many interests are working together to get members elected for their mutual concerns.
There are very narrow areas of policy concern for interest groups.
An interest group like a workers' union might support the Labour Party in order to get elected to make policy in certain areas, but the union's main concern is bettering the wages and working conditions of its members.
The functions of political parties are similar to those of interest groups.
Interest groups communicate their common interest to policymakers, government officials, and the public at large.
Both the interest group and the political party are involved in the process of interest aggregation, which is combining the interests of many individuals and groups into a formal policy program.
It is difficult for an individual to exert control over the policy agenda in a democratic system.
Groups will always play a role in democratic government, whether through civil society or interest groups.
There are many basic principles that all liberal democracies have in common.
The founding circumstances, historical progression, and social conditions of a country determine its own system.
The differences in democratic election systems are outlined below.
Representation in a lawmaking body is a part of every democracy.
How legislative constituencies will work is the root question of structuring these bodies.
There is a large geographic constituency that will choose a large number of representatives in a proportional representation system.
Voters in the constituency cast a vote for a political party.
The percentage of legislative representatives from the constituency that the political party gets is roughly the same as the percentage of the vote they received.
Party A received 45 percent of the vote, Party B received 35 percent of the vote, and Party C received 20 percent of the vote in the election for 100 seats in the constituency.
If the country is using a pure PR system, voters have just elected 45 candidates from Party A, 35 candidates from Party B, and 20 candidates from Party C to take office in the legislature.
This question is answered by a party list published before the election, in which the political parties specify a ranking of their candidates for voters to review.
The top 45 names on Party A's list will take office, as well as the top 35 names from Party B's list.
The candidate ranked 46 on Party A's list is out of luck, and will need to do what he can to move up his party's ranking list for the next election, or hope the party fares better next time around.
This leads to high party unity in PR systems compared to single-member-district systems.
Since an individual candidate's political ambitions are largely dependent upon the candidate's position on these lists, individuals tend to be highly influenced to support the party and stay in the good graces of the party leadership consistently, at the risk of being lowered or moved off of the next election' One point of comparison indicates that women are more likely to win seats in national legislatures in PR election systems, as voters in many countries still seem reluctant to vote for a woman over a man when they are against one another in an SMD race.
When women are on a party list of candidates in a PR system, voters seem more willing to vote for them, and a greater percentage of women win legislative seats.
The same trend can be seen with minority race or ethnicity candidates.
Parties are given seats based on the percent of vote they get.
The seats in single-member-district systems are only given to the candidate with the most votes.
Another phenomenon of coalition government is the creation of PR systems.
The election result shows that no single party received a majority of the vote, meaning that none of the parties can pass laws on their own.
A coalition government occurs when parties work together to form a government and compromise on a policy agenda for the legislative session.
Let's define what a SMD system is.
Each of the single-member-district systems will allow one person to represent a constituency in the legislature.
Each election only one party's candidate can win.
The country with 100 representatives would be converted to a SMD system and divided into 100 constituencies with similar populations.
The candidate with the most votes, but not necessarily a majority, would win representation, but the other losing candidates and their parties would not.
Multiparty democracies are created by proportional systems.
Two-party systems are created by single-member-district systems.
Three of the five seats have been won by Party A, two by Party B and one by Party C. Party C received 20 percent of the vote and 20 percent of the legislative representation in the PR system.
Party C received no representation because they are never the winning party in any individual district.
In future elections, voters may be inclined to think that voting for Party C is equivalent to throwing away a vote, and will possibly think strategically about choosing between one of the two major parties.
Another possibility is that Party C voters give up on voting.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, the competition for power in government is almost exclusively between two parties in a two-party system.
The representation of the winning party is inflated when compared to the actual percentage of votes they received.
An example from the British General Election can be found on page 84.
The SMD system benefits the Conservative and Labour parties compared to their share of the vote, while reducing seats for the Liberal Democrats and other minor parties compared to their share of the vote.
In most cases, one of the two major parties will be able to gain majority control of the legislature, making a coalition government much less likely.
The coalition government in Britain between the Conservatives and Democratic Unionists was an exception to this general rule.
In the British election system, coalition government is very rare.
The United Kingdom, Iran, and Nigeria use exclusively SMD election systems for their legislatures.
Russia used an exclusively PR system toelect the State Duma from 2007 to 2012 but a reform returned Russia to the mixed SMD and PR system used before that.
Mexico uses a mixed system in which some seats are elected in SMD constituencies and others in PR party lists.
In a democracy, the way the executive is chosen can vary greatly from state to state.
The voters can directly vote for the executive.
The leader of the majority party is usually given the power to choose the executive.
The executive is a separate and distinct institution of government from the legislature.
In order to wield executive power, a president doesn't need the support of legislators or even members of his or her own party.
In presidential systems, it is not uncommon for one party to control the executive branch after a presidential election, while the other party controls at least one house of the legislature.
Presidential systems are more prone to gridlock due to the inability for the legislature and executive to agree on policy decisions.
A prime minister comes to power when he or she earns the title of party leader among his or her fellow party legislators and then leads the party to victory in a national election.
The people don't directly vote for the new chief executive in a parliamentary system.
Boris Johnson is the current British prime minister, but his name was not on the ballot for voters in the constituency of South Ruislip, where he is a candidate for the House of Commons.
Other voters across the country are aware that if they vote for the Conservative candidate in their constituency, they will vote for Johnson as prime minister.
Legislative and executive institutions are fused together by the system, so there is no separation of powers.
If the majority party in the legislature can't resolve their differences, they will retain the power to replace the executive through internal party processes or a vote of no confidence.
Compared to a presidential system, there is little to no chance of a stalemate in a parliamentary system.
Russia, Mexico, and Nigeria use presidential systems, while the United Kingdom uses a parliamentary system.
In Iran, the president is elected by voters, while the Supreme Leader is not.
China chooses its executive through a set of internal Chinese Communist Party practices that do not involve a democratic election.
States have emerged from wildly diverse historical circumstances and cultural practices, as the state is a complicated institution.
Executive structures can vary depending on whether a state came from a long monarchical tradition or a recent popular revolution.
Head of state functions involve the ceremonial responsibility of an individual to display the power and might of the state in formal settings, whether they be welcoming foreign dignitaries, presiding over national celebrations, or giving speeches to inspire patriotic loyalty from the people.
A Head of government is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the policies of the state, including overseeing disbursements from the treasury, regulation of industry, and law enforcement.
Presidential systems tend to unite the two roles into a single individual, while parliamentary systems are more likely to divide the roles between two distinct leaders.
While the level of democracy in a country may seem like a subjective notion, Freedom House and other organizations are applying data collection to this field to place statistical values on the performance of countries in a variety of democratic metrics.
The metrics include the level of rule of law, the fairness of elections, and the transparency of the state's internal and decision-making processes.
The data is categorized into political rights, such as the right to participate in elections or run for office, and civil liberties, such as the protection from unjust criminal prosecutions.
The path to democratization is never an easy one despite the increase in the number of states that choose their leaders.
The success stories of societies that fully embraced liberal democratic rights, principles, and structures have been realized through the hopes that supporters of democratization had for Russia and the former members of the Communist bloc after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Poland is an example.
Russia has restored many of the repressive elements of the former regime.
democratization does not require a specific constitutional structure, but it does require a commitment to its root principles from both the elites and non-elites alike.
The terms that appear on the AP Comparative Government and Politics exam are tested.