These two topics of study should really be studied in conjunction with one another because they build upon one another. In topic 1.5 you need to be able to identify where power and authority come from in the course countries ( 🇨🇳 🇮🇷 🇷🇺 🇳🇬 🇲🇽 🇬🇧). In topic 1.6 you are being asked to examine if the source of power and authority has changed in the course countries over time and why. You will also be asked to go one step further on the exam and, you guessed it, compare countries and their experiences or look for patterns that can be applied among countries.
Let's start with topic 1.5, sources of power. Power can come from constitutions, religions, military forces, political parties, legislatures, and popular support, but remember our focus also needs to be on how sources of power changed over time, and why.
Brief History of Each Course Country
Now you may be asking yourself, but how much history do I need to know in order to show changes in sources of power? You should have a general knowledge of where the power to rule originated and basic changes over time, but you don't need to memorize the timeline of history for any nation with meticulous detail, so relax! Just the basics in this case. So let's go over the basics before we move onto a discussion of authority.
UK—The political system in Britain is influenced by its history, and it's a long history. The UK was once ruled only by the monarchy who had absolute power, but the UK has a very evolutionary history. Over time, the monarchy lost power through moments like the Magna Carta and the Glorious Revolution. When the monarchy was restored in the 17th century, its powers were severely restricted by Parliament. The monarchy has no decision-making power. The power rests entirely in the prime minister and the parliament.
Queen Elizabeth; image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Prime Minister Boris Johnson; image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Mexico—This country has had a chaotic history of revolution and violence. Mexico transitioned from Spanish control to independence, but that independence was primarily under military dictatorships through the 19th centuries. After the Revolution of 1910, there was instability that was often calmed by authoritarian regimes. However, as the 20th century has come to a close, Mexico has become an emerging democracy, exhibiting characteristics like free and fair elections and rule of law.
President Obrador; image Courtesy of Wikipedia
Nigeria—This country has a long history of colonialism, having been under British rule until 1960. In 1960, however, they gained their independence. This has created a complex history in Nigeria, because on one hand the country was exposed to western beliefs like rule of law, but since independence has been gained, the military has been a tool to maintain control in the nation.
President Buhari; image courtesy of Wikipedia
China—For centuries, dynastic rule influenced political, economic, and social culture in China. However, China was a victim of colonialism in the 19th century and revolution in the 20th century. The 20th century saw China become a communist nation under the leadership of General Mao. Authoritarian policies in regards to trade, education, and industrialization went through a period of reform under Deng Xiaoping, however there has been little move away from authoritarianism politically.
President Xi; image courtesy of Wikipedia
Iran—A country of complex history, we can describe the history of this course country as "two histories at odds with one another." Iran has a long history with the religion of Islam, but its modern history is one of revolution that resulted in a western-style constitution that was modified after another revolution in 1979. Iran politically follows the principles of Shiism and a divine cleric, but this often clashes with the idea of the people's sovereignty, which was part of the constitution pre and post 1979.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei; image courtesy of Forbes
Iranian President Rouhani; image courtesy of DW
Russia—Historically Russia was an autocratic nation, ruled by a tsar. In 1919, autocracy turned into dictatorship under the communist party. In 1991, the Soviet Union broke apart and Russia re-emerged. However, years of communist rule did not disappear, despite some move toward more democratic tendencies under Boris Yeltsin. However, any movement toward democracy has taken a step back under Vladimir Putin.
President Putin; image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
These brief histories are important because in the CED you will see several examples of power and authority singled out. Power and authority need to come from somewhere, and the histories above will help you to understand those sources of power and authority.
Changes in Source of Power
The CED is very clear with the examples of power and authority in each of the course countries, and when College Board takes the time to provide you examples, you need to know those examples! Let's go over them together.
The UK 🇬🇧—Several changes in regards to authority over time. Once authority lie with a King via divine right, but as time went on authority shifted from the monarchy to parliament, and more directly the people as a result of constitutional reforms.
Mexico 🇲🇽 and Nigeria 🇳🇬—We have discussed several times how these authoritarian regimes are becoming more democratic and can be seen as emerging democracies. One source of legitimacy for regimes in recent times has been multi-party elections in which different parties have won power as a result of free and fair elections.
China 🇨🇳—Authority rests with the Communist Party's control over the military, and this, in turn, provides power and authority to maintain regime stability.
Iran 🇮🇷—Authority used to rest with a dictator, in fact it was a Shah or a King that had the authority to rule, but in 1979 there was a revolution and the authority shifted to religious leaders, which still remains today!
Russia 🇷🇺—Authority rests with the political elite's back of a strong President, so in this case it is the support of the elite, not election results that provides the authority for the President to have such power.
One last thing before we leave this particular topic: differences in the way authority is maintained by democratic and authoritarian regimes. Democratic 🙋🏾♀️ regimes tend to evolve slowly over time, using non-violent means like elections. In authoritarian 👑 regimes we often see sudden changes as a result of revolution or coups d e'tat (military takeovers). So once again, be sure to study the examples above as they illustrate some of the differences between democratic 🙋🏾♀️ and authoritarian 👑 regimes! However, charts are always helpful so here is another to help you remember if the course countries have evolved or faced sudden changes.
Overview of Changes
|Country||Type of Change||Examples|
|UK||Evolution/Change in political institutions through changes to laws and political tradition||The Britain today did not come from sudden change but years of steady evolution of the political system. The monarchy slowly relinquished power through changes in British law and tradition.|
|Mexico||Sudden/Change through Revolutions||Revolution of 1910|
|Nigeria||Sudden/Change through Coup d e tats led by the military||Numerous military coups, some encouraged by the people when they felt regimes needed to be corrected|
|Iran||Sudden/Revolution||Revolution of 1979|
|Russia||Sudden/Revolution||Communist Revolution 1919/Collapse of the Soviet Union 1991|