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Political Science

Political Science

Ch 3

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1. The term nation refers to a group of people, who share the same culture but do not have sovereignty. The people share their language, customs and geography. On the other hand, country, state, government and nation-state are politically organized territories. State and country are often used synonymously to refer to a group of self-governing people, who occupy a specific geographic location, and are organized into political entities. A nation-state differs from a nation by the fact that the people are independent. Government refers to the ruling body, which makes and enforces law of the state or country.

A superpower is a state or country whose leadership is critical in the international system and which is able to gain the allegiance of other countries. It can impose political will on other countries. It has the duty of maintaining international order and it holds higher status in international forums (Griffiths O’Callaghan & Roach, 2008). Middle powers are states with middle rank economies and military capabilities, which emphasize multilateral diplomacy and involvement in international organizations. They act as major facilitators in peacekeeping operations (Ozkan, 2006). They might not have the power to influence smaller countries but they are usually relied on by states with great power to provide the necessary requirements such as during periods of war.

2. It can prove extremely hard to measure power among different states in the international system because the states cannot agree on what they should base their measurements. Some suggest that population should be considered while others claim that it is the GDP of a particular country. Others however assert that military capabilities should be considered. Countries with the most effective military instruments can shape the operations of the international system. They have the power and they can dominate other countries politically and economically thus enabling them to establish alliances (Tellis & Arroyo Center, 2000).

3. Most governments around the world have mixed economies. In a free market economy, governments do not interfere with the running of the businesses. Businesses are free to do as they will, and there is therefore high competition. The main aim is for the business to make a profit. Where there is no intervention, the economic situation at the time might be such that the prices of the commodities are too high and this affects the consumer since he will have to pay a higher price. The government controls all aspects of the economy in a planned economy. It is easier for the people to find a market for their goods and services. The government is able to control the available resources, leaving no place for commercial exploitation.

The major disadvantage of this economy is that it lacks freedom. People cannot decide what to sell, or at what price they should sell their goods. They therefore end up realizing less profits than they would have in other types of economies. In a mixed economy, people are free to engage in the business of their choice and they can set their own prices. However, they have to pay taxes as set by the government. In a mixed economy, business people might find it hard to look for a market for their goods and services, since it is not guaranteed by the government.

The gross national product of a country does not include factors such as education, natural resources, self-employment, and unpaid subsistence labor, which are major components in each economy. It is therefore not an effective way of measuring progress. Education is one of the major determinants of whether a country is growing. The GNP of a country may show that some of the other sectors are growing but the education sector may not be growing at the same rate.

Most of the countries, which experience economic growth usually, encounter problems when trying to maintain the environment. Economic growth often leads to environmental sacrifice since it is accompanied by pollution, decay and deforestation among other environmental problems. Governments realize the importance of environmental sustainability. They have initiatives such as fixing prices on energy, agriculture and transport, which cause harm to the environment (O’Hara, 2001).

These strategies are often the cause of disagreements. Governments will propose strategies based on what they consider the most important. In developing economies, the government will want to look for strategies, which will ensure economic growth at the expense of the environment. This may be different for countries that have already established themselves and they are willing to pay more to ensure that they have a quality life by protecting their environment. The developed countries may impose restrictions on the developing countries which may not augur well with the latter’s plans.

Ch 4

1. The government is a formal institution through which a land and its people are ruled. Politics is the conflict over the character, leadership, membership and policies of a government. It is the conduct of government when making government policies and organization (Misiroglu, 2002). The government has to be responsible not only to the people it governs, but also to the political system. It should be ready to face the consequences of failing to perform its duties. All governments and political systems have a set of rules or norms by which they govern. These norms define their purpose and spell out their limits.

Democratic governments have limited powers as described and defined in their respective constitutions (Waluchow, 2008). Popular sovereignty means that the people have the authority. Democratic governments, which are elected by the people, derive their authority from the people. Popular sovereignty gives the people power to govern themselves in direct democracy (Schrems, 2004). Every country or state has the rules by which the people follow and the government is no exception to this law. The rule of law controls the government and checks its powers.

2. In a totalitarian government, decisions are made by one person or a small group of leaders. The government controls the social, political and economic aspects. China is seen as a totalitarian regime because of the way the government controls the people’s lives. The police and the media are controlled by the state, and the information available to the people is limited. In addition, the government controls the major businesses. It controls the foreign exchange by favoring the businesses dealing with exports and keeping the rest as investment (Rourk, 2008). In authoritarian government, the leader controls the government but does not control the social and economic aspects of the country. In a democratic government, the people elect the leaders, who then make and enforce laws and policies (Bardes, Shelley & Schmidt, 2008). Canada is a democratic state because the government is headed by a prime minister who is elected by the people. The people also elect the House of Common members

3. In the parliamentary system, there is a fusion of power in that, the legislative and the executive are fused while in the presidential system, the executive and the legislative are distinct. In the parliamentary, the executive is selected by the assembly while in the presidential; the executive is elected by the people. In the parliamentary, the head of government is appointed by the head of state while in the presidential; the head of government is the head of state. In the parliamentary, the parliament is the focus of power in the political system while in the presidential; there is no focus of power (Ray, 2004). The concept of separation of power divides the state’s power into the executive, legislature and the judiciary. It is usually used in a presidential system and is therefore applicable in the United States. The concept of fusion of power is mostly applicable in parliamentary systems and is therefore used in Canada. Under this concept, the executive and the legislative arms are combined. In Canada, the monarch acts as the sovereign head of state the fusion of power refers to the cabinet or the parliament.

The checks and balances as required in the United States constitution prevents the concentration of power by one arm of the government by protecting the opulent minority from the majority. The three branches of the government in the US limit each other. For instance, the legislative makes all the laws but they have to be signed or vetoed by the president. If the president vetoes the law, congress can override the law by a 2/3 majority. The judiciary then decides whether the passed law is unconstitutional. In Canada, parliament has the responsibility of enacting all the federal laws and establishing the law courts. It is checked by the executive, which calls the House of Commons into session, and the judiciary, which, like in the United States, declares the powers unconstitutional. The executive appoints the members of the judiciary and it checks the judiciary in this manner (Magnet, 2007).

Ch 5

1. The executive branch is made up of the president and the vice president. The president implements and enforces the laws written by congress. The president and the senate are entrusted with the duty of making foreign policies. The president appoints ambassadors as stipulated in the constitution, and is therefore the chief diplomat. The president negotiates treaties as advised by the senate. Although the president can sign treaties, these treaties must be ratified by 2/3 of the senate. This means that the senate holds the real power.

In Canada, the executive power is vested on the queen although the real power rests on the cabinet. The cabinet answers to parliament. Parliament makes up the legislative arm of the government. It is made of the House of Commons, which is elected by the people, the senate and the governor general. The house of commons has to approve the law, which is then passed to the queen for the final assent under the advice of the government. The queen assents the law under the advice of the government and does not have any real powers (Department of Justice Canada, 2009). This is one indication of how parliament reasserts the monarch’s power.

2. The executive arm of the government controls the agenda of the legislature and contributes to the legislative process. The cabinet establishes the government’s policy. It coordinates different departments in the government and it supervises the administration of policy as legislated by parliament. The Prime Minister selects the ministers from members of the majority party. The executive is involved in signing treaties and formulating foreign policy. In the US, the executive signs or vetoes laws that have been passed by congress. The executive is the commander in chief of the armed forces. He carries out duties as required by congress, which include spending and instructions of war and those given by the military.

The executive declares state of emergencies, creates treaties, appoints judges and other executive heads. The executive grants pardon for crimes apart from impeachments. The executive branch of the government in the United States has more functions than the executive branch in Canada. This is probably because there are two political systems involved, where one emphasizes the separation of power and the other supports the fusion of power. In both systems however, the legislative branch seems to direct the executive on what it should do. Thus, although there are many written rules on paper, the executive cannot carry out most orders without the advice from the legislative.

References

Bardes, A. B., Shelley, M. C., & Schmidt, W. S. (2008). American government and politics today. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

Department of justice Canada (2009). The Canadian constitution. Retrieved from http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/dept-min/pub/just/05.html

Griffiths, M., O’Callaghan, T., & Roach, C. S. (2008). International relations: The key concepts. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor & Francis

Magnet, J. (2007). Separation of powers in Canada. Retrieved from http://www.uottawa.ca/constitutional-law/Division%20of%20Powers%20Topics%20-%20Separation%20of%20Powers.htm

Misiroglu, G. (2002). The handy politics answer book. Oakland, CA: Visible Ink Press

O’Hara, A. P. (2001). Encyclopedia of political economy, volume 1. New York, NY: Routledge

Ray, N. S. (2004). Modern comparative politics: Approaches, methods and issues. India: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd

Rourk, P. (2008). Yes we must-fix our broken system. United Kingdom: Phil Rourk

Schrems, J. (2004). Understanding principles of politics and the state. Otsego, MI: PageFree Publishing, Inc.

Tellis, J. A., & Arroyo Center (2000). Measuring national power in the post-industrial age. Arlington, VA: Rand Corporation

Waluchow, W. (2001). Constitutionalism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/constitutionalism/

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