Topics: Democracy, Separation of powers, Parliamentary system Pages: 7 (2056 words) Published: July 13, 2014
Chapter Seven- Political Institutions: Institutional Arrangements Constitutions and Constitutional Regimes
Constitution- a set of statements describing the fundamental rules of the political system… declares the existence of the state, and expresses three crucial sets of rules: 1. Allocates governmental activities- defining what actions are within the domain of res publica and what political structures will perform these functions 2. Establishes formal power relationships among the major political structures- indicating the conditions under which each is independent or dependent on the actions of the others 3. Limits the power of the rulers and guarantees the rights of the ruled by defining the maximum extent of the state’s authority over its citizens’ freedoms and benefits from the state Many groups in a society might offer interpretations of what the constitution means and how it ought to be applied to particular circumstances Although the idea of a constitution has a certain timeless quality, the constitutions of political systems are always changeable. Most countries periodically alter their constitutions Constitutional Regimes-

Constitutional Regime- operates in terms of the rule of law and ensures effective restraints on the power holders The state attempts to fulfill the provisions of the constitution Regimes range on a continuum and are less constitutional when the disparity becomes larger between the provisions in the constitution and the actual politics of society Nonconstitutional Regimes

Nonconstitutional Regimes- the structural arrangements of the constitution are not generally upheld and there are few restraints on those with political power The regime can be called ‘nonconstitutional’ when there is persistent nonenforcement of constitutional provisions, especially those regarding the rights of the ruled or crucial limits on the rulers Various conditions can result in this:

1. Leaders simply ignore with impunity the basic rules in the constitution 2. The rule of the law collapses because the social order disintegrates through severe political violence or natural catastrophe 3. The entire constitution or major constitutional rights are suspended ‘temporarily’ but then are not restored for a lengthy period Democracies and Nondemocracies

Defining Democracy
Direct democracy (participatory democracy)- government of and by the people; all citizens are active, direct participants in making public policy decisions Representative democracy (republic)- a system in which the citizens periodically elect people who represent them in the political process and make policy decisions on their behalf 1. Elections for representatives must be held under conditions for universal adult suffrage 2. Elections provide voters with alternative choices

Electoral democracy- a political system in which virtually all citizens periodically vote to select political leaders from among alternative contenders Limited mandate- the electorate grants the authority to govern (the mandate) for only a short, fixed (limited) period of time, and the electorate has the opportunity to select representatives again Liberal democracy- when citizens enjoys not only electoral democracy but also substantial political rights and civil liberties regarding participation, personal freedoms, and opposition Illiberal democracy- an electoral democracy, but the citizens’ political rights and civil liberties are significantly limited Democracy- Governance by leaders whose authority is based on a limited mandate from a universal electorate that selects among genuine alternatives and has some rights to political participation and opposition Some analysts argue that a genuine democracy most guarantee not only appropriate processes of empowering and replacing leaders, but also must deliver desirable policy outputs Defining Nondemocracies

1. A single ruler exercises absolute power and authority
1. Rulers who hold power in...
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