Elections, Political Parties, and Civil Society in Authoritarian Regimes

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Michael Goodman
Professor Garcia-Acevedo
POLS 156 TuTh (8:00am-9:15am)
Due: December 13, 2012

Elections, Political Parties, and Civil Society in Authoritarian Regimes
Within many Authoritarian Regimes, the conditions are very similar and the political participation becomes severely limited. The following essay will attempt to briefly capture a few key characteristics of two countries in terms of elections, political parties, and the role of civil societies within the state. The two countries that I will be discussing are Iran and China.

First of all, after reading page 80-81 in our Comparative Politics textbook written by Carol Ann Drogus and Stephen Orvis, it soon became clear to me that Authoritarian Regime structuring has a heavy political saliency in terms of elections, political parties, and the role of civil societies. It seems that if elections even manage to exist in an authoritarian regime, they do not determine who holds the majority of power in the state. For example, on page 80, the textbook discusses how 1906 a new democratic state within Iran was created in order to provide a real legislature with elections. This democracy was soon polarized, and the central state has limited sovereignty over the other provinces and was able to control most economic profit and most of the military power. Although elections were ushered into Iran’s political system, they had little influence on the government itself. On page 81, the textbook discusses how a left-wing prime minister named Mohammad Mosaddeq was elected in 1951, but due the primary regime’s influence and power, they overthrew this elected prime minister because he did not support their interests. This example shows that even if an election determines something within an Authoritarian Regime, this determination may not last for very long or may not have any power in the first place. An elected official such as Mosaddeq can be overthrown at any point if the people that truly hold the power...
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