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Unit 1

1.4 Democratization

6 min readโ€ขdecember 26, 2020

kelly-cotton

Kelly Cotton


AP Comparative Governmentย ๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ

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The goal for you in this topic is simple: describe and measure (remember Topic 1.1) how regimes include more of the 7๏ธโƒฃ seven characteristics of democracy into their political systems. Both authoritarian ๐Ÿ‘‘ and democratic ๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿพโ€โ™€๏ธ regimes can democratize.
Often this is not a linear processโ€”sometimes regimes take a small step toward democratization, and then a giant leap back to authoritarianism. Democratization can involve any of the characteristics of democracy, but may not include them all!

Resources:

Characteristics of Democracy๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿพโ€โ™€๏ธ

Need a reminder of what those 7๏ธโƒฃ characteristics are?
  1. Free and Fair elections.
  2. Competitive elections.
  3. Government-developed policies and procedures that guarantee due process, accountability, and transparency in decision making.
  4. Political and civil rights are possessed by all.
  5. Independent judiciary.
  6. Elected government officials who exercise authority over the government.
  7. Rule of Law.

Applying them to each Country of Study

So let's look at some examples of each of the 7 characteristics as we discuss democratization in our countries of study.
  1. Free and Fair elections. Two authoritarian nations, Mexico ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ and Nigeria ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ have been moving toward electoral democratization. They're attempting to accommodate and include more individuals into the system by increasing multiparty competition with rule adjustments, creating gender or cultural quotas to incorporate all people, proportional representation (an electoral system in which parties gain seats in proportion to the number of votes cast for them, remember this is different from winner-takes-all, which is what we have in America- if you win the popular vote, you win all the votes), and changing vote thresholds and district boundaries to ensure that candidates represent the people. In both countries, independent election committees have been created to reduce voter fraud and make elections more fair. However, democratization of electoral systems can happen in democratic nations, like England, as well. Prior to 1918 only men ๐Ÿ‘จcould vote in England ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ฅ๓ ฎ๓ ง๓ ฟ. However, in 1918 they passed the Representation of the People Act, which allowed women ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿผ over 30 who owned property to vote. In 1928, the Equal Franchise Act expanded voting to include all women over 21.
  2. Competitive elections. Again we can discuss Mexico ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ and Nigeria ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ. One of the big things to understand with democratization is that the party out of power needs to have an opportunity to win elections. In Mexico ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ there was a time when the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) held power for 71 years! Today, power has switched back and forth between the main parties, which is an indication that steps have been taken to democratize elections. Now you might say to me, but Ms. C, Russia ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ has more then one party, but no opposition party has ever taken control of the national legislature through elections! That is why we would say that Russia is a lliberal democracy, because elections are in place, as well as multi-party systems, but there is no chance that another party can win power, so elections lack true competitiveness and therefore, are more or less elections in name only, they lack legitimacy and transparency (those characteristics of democracy that have to be present.)
  3. Government transparency. A pattern is starting to emerge here because we are going to talk about Mexico ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ and Nigeria ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ again! (This should indicate that of the nations of study, these two authoritarian ๐Ÿ‘‘ regimes seem to be moving more toward emerging democracies, meaning that they have far more characteristics of a democratic nation than authoritarian regime in the modern era (20th century and beyond). The nations should be considered democratic, like the UK, and far more democratic ๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿพโ€โ™€๏ธ then Russia ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ, China ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ, and Iran ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท). Both Mexico ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ and Nigeria ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ have passed National Freedom of Information Acts, and this means more accountability and transparency regarding government actions!
  4. Political and Civil Rights possessed by all. Mexico ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ and Nigeria ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ have national courts and protections of rights and liberties, but there are issues and obstacles in both countries. For instance in Nigeria there are segments of the country that have experienced violence between religious factions, and therefore rights are severely impacted.
  5. Independent Judiciary. In China ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ there is little to no democratization in its judiciary, but there is a 99.3% conviction rate! Therefore, we would say that China ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ is still very authoritarian ๐Ÿ‘‘ in nature.
  6. Elected government officials who exercise authority over the branches of government. China ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ and Russia ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ are good examples of this, and in both cases the President and the party of power control the various branches of government. In Russia ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ the branches can't really challenge Putin's authority.
  7. Rule of Law. Laws are clear, government is open, there is accountability, and accessible justice. One good indicator of rule of law is to ask, do elections matter? In Mexico ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ and Nigeria ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ the answer is yes, but in Russia ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ no party has won an election outside of United Russia!
This great website allows you to look at democratization around the world.
Before we move onto 1.5 I thought a visual representation of all that we discussed in topics 1.3 and 1.4 as this is a large amount of information to remember and 1.3 and 1.4 have common themes that run through out both topics.

Overview of Topics 1.3-1.4

๐Ÿ”‘ Key Characteristics of Democratization-Democratic and Authoritarian Regimes

CountryRule of LawFree and Fair ElectionsGovernment control of MediaIndependence of Branches
UK Established DemocracyHouse of Commons directly elected by the public voted against airstrikes in Syria (2013)In 2010 the Conservative Party won the House of Commons after 13 straight years of control by the Labour PartyControls some media outlets, but allows private media and media to be critical of the government.Commons votes against the PM at various times, like our example in Syria.
Mexico Emerging DemocracyIn 2000 the PRI lost the Presidential election to PAN candidate and relinquished powerIn 2018 President Nieto who was constitutionally prevented from running again, saw his party relinquish control to an opposing partyControls some media outlets, but allows private media and media to be critical of the government. However, there has been quite a bit of violence against members of the mediaSupreme Court is able to review the Constitutionality of laws
Nigeria Emerging DemocracyNigerian legislature directly elected by the people rejected the Presidentโ€™s bid to add a 3rd term to the presidencyIn 2015, Nigeria saw its first transfer of power between parties through a presidential electionControls some media outlets, but allows private media and media to be critical of the government.The legislature votes against the President, like in our example of adding a 3rd term to the presidency
Russia AuthoritarianInvasion and annexation of CrimeaPutin has won every election in the first round of voting in each of his electionsRegulates the internet to limit dissent, controls most of the media outlets, violence against reporters commonNational legislature is merely a rubber stamp for expansion of Executive Power
Iran AuthoritarianElection protestors put down violentlySupreme Leader is not directly elected by the people. Supreme Leader directly and indirectly appoints all members of the Guardian CouncilBlocks internet content to limit dissent, controls most of the media outletsNational legislature is merely a rubber stamp for expansion of Supreme Leaderโ€™s Power
China AuthoritarianPresident Xi ends Constitutional term limits for presidencyNo direct elections of high ranking governmental officials, appointed from within the party.Blocks internet content to limit dissent, controls most of the media outletsNational legislature is merely a rubber stamp for expansion of Executive Power

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