Comparative government and politics provides an introduction to the wide, diverse world of governments and political practices that currently exist in modern times - Comparative government introduction. It focuses on specific countries; it also emphasizes an understanding of conceptual tools and methods that form a framework for comparing almost any governments that exist today. Additionally, It requires to go beyond Individual political systems to consider international forces that affect all people in the world, often in very different ways.
What is Comparative Government? Most people understand that the term government is a reference to the leadership and institutions that make policy decisions for the country. However, what exactly Is politics? Politics Is basically all about power. Who has the power to make the decisions? How did they get the power? What challenges do leaders face from others; both Inside and outside the country’s borders & in keeping the power? So, as we look at different countries, we are not only concerned about the ins and outs of how the government works.
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We will also look at how power is gained, managed, challenged, and maintained. What and how countries should be studied and compared? One approach is to emphasize empirical data based on factual statements and statistics, and another Is to focus on normative Issues that require value judgments. For example, the first approach might compare statistics that reflect economic development of a group of countries, including information about Gross National Product, per capita income, and amounts of imports and exports.
The second approach might not reject those statistics, but would focus instead on whether or not the statistics bode well or ill for the countries. Empiricists might claim that It Is not the role of political scientists to make such Judgments, and their critics would reply that such an approach leads to meaningless data collection. Both approaches give us different but equally important tools for analyzing and comparing political systems. Comparisons are based on democracy vs.. Authoritarianism and communism vs.. Capitalism.
Even though this method is still valid, newer types of comparisons are reflected in these trends: The impact of informal politics – Governments have formal sections and structures that may be seen on an organizational chart. For example, Great Britain Is led by a prime minister and has a House of Lords and a House of Commons. In comparison, the united States has a President, a Senate, and a House of Representatives. You may directly compare the responsibilities and typical activities of each position or structure in Britain to its counterpart in the United States.
However, you can gain a deeper understanding of both political systems if you connect civil society – the way that citizens organize and define themselves and their onto consideration not only the ways that politicians operate outside their formal powers, but also the impact that beliefs, values, and actions of ordinary citizens have on policy-making. The importance of political change – One reason that the three- Nor approach has become more problematic in recent years is that the nature of Nor politics has changed.
After 1991, the world was no longer dominated by two superpowers, and that fact has had consequences that have reverberated in many areas that no one could have predicted. However, what better opportunity to ampere the impact of change on different countries! The integration of political and economic systems – Even though we may theoretically separate government and politics from the economy, the two are often intertwined almost inextricably.
For example, communism and capitalism are theoretically economic systems, but how do Ho truly separate them from government and politics? Attitudes and behavior of citizens are affected in many ways by economic inefficiency, economic inequality, and economic decision making. They then may turn to the government for solutions to economic problems, and if the government does not respond, citizens may revolt, or take other actions that demand attention from the political elite.
Keeping these trends in mind, in this we will study countries in three different groups that are in some ways similar in their political and economic institutions and practices. These groups are: “Advanced” democracies – These countries having well established democratic governments and a high level of economic development. Of the six core countries, Great Britain represents this group. Communist and post-communist entries – These countries have sought to create a system that limits individual freedoms in order to divide wealth more equally.
Communism flourished during the 20th century, but lost ground to democratic regimes by the beginning of the 21st century. Russia (as a post communist country) and China (currently a communist country) represent this group in our study of comparative government and politics. Less developed and newly industrialization countries – We will divide the countries traditionally referred to as the “Third World” into two groups, still very diverse within he categories.
The newly industrialization countries are experiencing rapid economic growth, and also have shown a tendency toward demagnification and political and social stability. Mexico and Iran represent this group, although, as you will see, Iran has many characteristics that make it difficult to categorize in this scheme. Less developed countries lack significant economic development and they also tend to have authoritarian governments. Nigeria represents this group, although it has shown some signs of demagnification in very recent years.
Asia has unique characteristics which set it a part from the rest of the world, particularly in terms of economy, people, government and tourism among others. This paper depicts a country in Asia – Thailand.
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Thailand is located in the heart of Southeast Asia. It is more or less two hundred thousand (200,000) square miles with more or less sixty five (65) million population with a recorded annual population growth of 0.3%. Comparatively, its size is relatively the same as with France but smaller than that of Texas. The country is divided into four (4) regions, to wit: the northern mountainous region, northeast Thailand, Central Thailand and the southern region (http://www.globelink.uk.com/country-information/travelling-to-thailand/geographical-location-of-thailand.html, 2008). The capital city of Thailand is Bangkok.
The country is divided into seventy (76) provinces, further subdivided into 877 districts, and 74, 944 villages (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand, 2008).
Thailand has been calculated to have existed for almost half a million years now, dating back to 400 BC. Thais have Chinese ancestry. Researchers conclude that some Chinese community have migrated to Thailand, as what some Chinese also did in some parts of Asia, and Thailand has been one of it, thus, Thais share few characteristics with that of the Chinese group in Asia.
People of Thailand are popularly known as Thai. Primary ethnic group in the country is Thai consisting of 89% and the rest consist of mixed ethnic groups. Basically most of the people comprising of 94% are Buddhist, 4% are Muslims and the rest are Christians, Hindus, Brahmin and others. More than eighty five (85%) of the Thai speak the Thai dialect. Such basic dialect is the medium of instruction in schools. Twelve (12%) of Thais are of Chinese Ancestry, thus, the structures of its buildings are characterized by Chinese characters.
Thailand is a rich source of natural resources being a major producer of tin, natural gas, rubber, tungsten, fish, and timber, among others. Likewise it is major producer of rise, soya beans and coconuts. Moreover Thailand is an active counterpart in the manufacture of garments, textile and jewelry among others.
Notably, the unemployment rate of Thailand is very low at 1.5% of the labor force - Comparative government introduction. Among the members of the labor force, more or less forty (40%) are engaged in agriculture. In this regard, it can be said that standard of living of the population is considerably high considering that above majority of the people are employed or are engaged into their respective trade or business.
In terms of education, Thailand’s constitution makes it mandatory to offer free education for twelve (12) years. Hence, it is expected that Thai are more advanced in education and that literacy rate is high considering that the government provides subsidy in matters relating to basic education.
Government of Thailand is constitutional monarchy. It recently adopted a new constitution subsequent to the 2007 referendum amending the prior constitution. It is headed by a Prime Minister as the head of its government with three major branches of government, the executive, legislative and the judiciary. The executive branch is primarily represented by King as the country’s Chief of State. As head of state, the King however is given little direct control over the people. The same with other countries in Asia, its legislative department is basically bicameral, thus being divided into two houses of Congress for the enactment of laws of government – the House of Representatives and Senate. The members of the House of Representatives are fully elected by the populace whereas the Senate is partially elected. On the other hand, the judiciary is divided into the Constitutional Tribunal, Administrative Courts and Courts of Justice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand, 2008).
Thai dated back its existence since 400 BC and was then engaged in the manufacture of bronze and metallurgy. Thereafter, it became one of the centers of wet rice producers. This has led to developments in the country particularly on social and political aspects.
Thai government was first founded in the 13th century. The Kingdom of Thailand was then headed by chieftains. Important to mention is the contribution of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. The latter was the advocate of Theravada Buddhism which is now the current major religion of the country. Around 1700s the Ayutthaya was invaded by the armies of Burma, which led to its decline. During those days, Dhamashastra was the primary tool on which the law of Thailand was based. Prior to the decline of Ayutthaya however, Thailand had been open to international relations with the West. In fact, it was a signatory of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1800s with the United Kingdom. The United States then followed in having amity relations with Thailand.
Nineteen hundred and thirty two (1932) was the rise of constitutional monarchy. During this year, the first coup de etat took place which transformed the form of government from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarch. By its term, constitutional monarchy is one where the monarchy as a form of government is subject to the limitations imposed by the constitution, the latter being the supreme law. The first coup was followed by several others which led to changes in the government. Subsequent events led to the invasion by the Japanese troupes in Thailand; however Japan was defeated by the Thais during the second world war.
Thailand was never predominantly a monarchy. It had been an advocate of democracy during mid of 1970s. Beginning this year, the election of the head of state had been through direct election and appointment in the midst of coup attempts and successful coups overthrowing one government and installing a new one. Notably also, Thailand used to be controlled by military governments thereafter replaced by democratic form of government. During these early years of political struggle, the government was primarily headed by the ‘bureaucratic elite.’ It was in 1988 when Choonavan was the first elected Prime Minister in the democratic form of government. His term ended by the appointment of Panyarachun, a military appointee as the Prime minister. Kraprayoon, a military commander was subsequently appointed. The two consecutive military governments were met by violent reactions among the Thais which led to the decline of the military government in 1992. The May 1992 elections put into office Leekpai from the Democratic Party. The parliament during his administration was dissolved. His administration spearheaded economic changes and developments in the country, until it led to the formation of the 1997 Thailand Constitution. Shinawatra was elected in 2001 and was subsequently re-elected in 2005. His last term of office was however of short duration due to allegations of massive corruption in the administration. This led to the abolition of Shinawatra’s Parliament in 2007, during such year also, the new constitution was promulgated. Sundaravej took the office as Prime Minister in 2008.
From the foregoing, Thailand never had a peaceful transition of government. Bloodless coups have characterized almost every transition through the participative actions of the people, people power that is.
It has been opined that the enactment of new constitutions during the past years have shaped the development of democracy in Thailand where people are accommodated on matters involving social, economic and political concerns (Aphornsuvan, No Year).
Moreover, it can be gleaned that Thailand’s major mode of putting officers into office is by direct election. Thus, it is one of a participative government not to mention the bloodless coups staged by its citizens.
Major elections of the country have been dominated by the participation of several political parties. Its constitution allows multi-party system thus opening the gates for participation among various sectors of the community.
The Democratic Party is one of the major political parties in the country. It is established as the oldest political party in the country, and is said to be the oldest in Southeast Asia following the transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy. Among the basic ideologies and advocacies of the Democratic Party are as follows:
1. political transparency;
2. social accountability;
3. adherence and reverence to the Constitution;
4. advocate of freedom and liberty;
5. Social concern and security (http://www.democrat.or.th/democrat_english/democratic_agenda.htm, 2008).
The Democratic Party was organized as somewhat like the Democratic Party of the United States primarily participated by the poor and the working class. Majority of the great leaders of Thailand who served as Prime Ministers came from the Democratic Party (http://www.democrat.or.th/democrat_english/history_eng.htm, 2008).
Other political parties moreover include but not limited to ‘For Thais Party’, ‘Royal People Party’, ‘Great People Party,’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_parties_in_Thailand, 2008).
Political growth and development in Thailand have been characterized by bloodless coup de etats, nevertheless, the same has been the instrument for what it is now – a strong government of Thailand.
Aphornsuvan, T (No Year). rspas.anu.edu.au/pah/human_rights/papers/2001/Thanet.pdf.
No Author. (2008). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_parties_in_Thailand.
No Author. (2008). http://www.democrat.or.th/democrat_english/history_eng.htm.
No Author. (2008). http://www.democrat.or.th/democrat_english/democratic_agenda.htm.
No Author (2008). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand.