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Government & Policymaking

govt structures and policy making

David Smock

on 3 January 2018

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Transcript of Government & Policymaking

Governing & Policymaking
authoritarianism democracy
different dimensions
separation of powers
geographic dist. of powers
limitation on gov't authority

democratic presidential regimes
Executive & Legislative separate
presidents given diff. powers in diff. regimes
in U.S. both signif. in policymaking
powers to Legislative

Art. 1, Sec. 8

powers to Executive

Art. 2, Sec. 2-3

parliamentary system
executive comes out the legislative
prime minister and cabinet emerge from
legislative majority and/or coalition
usually fixed terms of office
no fixed term
in office as longs as maintain the "confidence" of the parliamentary majority
a "no confidence" vote dissolves the gov't (prime minister & cabinet)
PM can attach a "confidence" vote to a particular bill (parliam. majority have to choose between bill and dissolution of gov't
upside to parliamentary regimes
= no divided gov't

presidential regimes more susceptible to
gridlock, conflict, democratic breakdown
upside to presidential regimes
= offers citizens more direct choice
of chief executive
provides effective check on legislative
not a stated power of judiciary in the Constitution

established by Marbury v. Madison
John Marshall, Chief Justice
declared piece of Judiciary Act 1789 unconstitutional

on-going interpretation of what the gov’t can do and what is constitutional
Judicial Review
Amending the Constitution
of the four bodies the constitution creates, only one is elected by the people
house of Reps = direct election
senate = appointed by state legis.
President = Electoral College
Supreme Court = appointed by
Pres. for Life

approved by about 5% of US population
not very democratic
Amending the Constitution
constitution limits the powers given to the central gov’t to those expressly delegated to it in the document
Article 1 => legislature
- 17 powers given to Congress
- how then does congress make
so many laws about so many things?
- The “elastic clause”
Art. 1, Sec. 8
delegated powers
U.S. Constitution
President becomes more significant and powerful
Executive Agreements
Executive Orders
Bush 280, Clinton 363, Reagan 380
FDR 3,466
Can Congress pass unconstitutional laws?
Is Gov’t always Constitutional?
(In Constant 1990 Dollars)
Year Total Total Minus Defense & interest
1915 95.02 27.39
1918 1,067.31 518.37
1919 1,329.77 477.53
1920 390.98 170.15
1925 187.78 71.09
1930 211.13 101.81
1935 486.81 328.03

Source: Historical Statistics of the United States
Real Per Capita Federal Expenditures: 1915-1935
Real per Capita Expenditures 1800-1990
Size of Government 1929-2009
economic crisis meant more gov’t intervention
35% of population received direct assistance from nat’l government

President becomes Manager-in-Chief of the US economy

federal aid to states
1915 - $6 million
1932 - $324 million
2008 - $470 billion
Impact of The New Deal
13th Amendment
Abolishes slavery in the U.S.

14th Amendment
affirms citizenship for all born in U.S.
equal protection of the laws
States cannot take away rights/liberties

15th Amendment
the right to vote cannot be taken away due to race or previous enslavement
The “Civil War Amendments”
The Civil War Years - War and Gov’t
So. Carolina votes to repeal ratification of the Constitution - 5 others follow
question over whether secession can be allowed
strong nat’l government during Civil War and after
civil liberties impacted
Reconstruction of the South
The “Civil War Amendments”
Gov’t Power - The Pendulum Swings
The Civil War Years - States’ Rights
Dred Scott v. Sanford
slaves not citizens - no ability to sue
slaves property - can’t be freed by Congress under 5th Amendment w/o due process
Missouri Compromise unconstitutional
2nd time for judicial review

Nullification - So. Carolina voids the 1828 Tariff
aimed at low-priced British goods imported
hurt Northern manufacturing
angered South - less $$ for British to buy cotton
Gov’t Power - The Pendulum Swings
The Early Years - The Marshall Court
McCulloch v. Maryland
power to establish a national bank?
doesn’t say so in Art. 1, Sec. 8
Court said OK - necessary & proper
Court said a state could not conflict with

Gibbons v. Ogden
how much power does Commerce Clause give?
Court said exclusive nat’l gov’t power for interstate
provides basis for most gov’t regulation
Gov’t Power - The Pendulum Swings
smaller units can block national progress and plans

smaller units more susceptible to domination by a single interest group
“tyranny of the majority”

can lead to inequalities among states
ex. education, public safety, building codes
Arguments against Federalism
Setting up courts
Creating and collecting taxes
Building highways
Borrowing money
Making and enforcing laws
Chartering banks and corporations
Spending money for the betterment of the general welfare
Taking (condemning) private property with just compensation
Concurrent Powers
Establish local governments
Issue licenses (driver, hunting, marriage, etc.)
Regulate intrastate (within the state) commerce
Conduct elections
Ratify amendments to the U.S. Constitution
Provide for public health and safety
Exercise powers neither delegated to the national government or prohibited from the states by the U.S.
Powers reserved to State Gov’ts
Federalism as “marble cake”
differing levels of authority and responsibility between national, state, local governments
the idea of the “marble cake”
“vertical checks and balances”
if conflict and based on delegated or inherent powers in Constitution, national gov’t supreme

allows more points of access
promotes stability, removes dissatisfaction
keeps things off the national agenda

creates balance between centralized and decentralized (good for large territory)
never mentioned by name in the Constitution nor a clear line of delineation stated or defined

delegated powers to central gov’t
but ambiguous as to extent
allows for future interpretation

“inherent powers” of central gov’t
mainly arise from issues of nat’l sovereignty
ex. acquiring new lands
Geographic Distribution of Powers

only 18 nations are federal systems
less than 10%
those that are, large and politically impt.

in culturally divided countries, helps protect minorities, esp. if geographically concentrated
check on overly ambitious rulers
allows smaller gov'ts experiment w/ diff. policies
citizens can choose pol. environment
If you don't like Calif.
comes at the expense of equality

citizens may receive diff. treatment
in diff. states or localities
not easy to do
amendments proposed - 2 methods
1) 2/3 vote in both chambers Congress
33 passed
2) 2/3 states request nat’l convention
never been used
has considered 11,000
2 methods:
1) 3/4 vote in state legislatures
has only happened 27 times
2) 3/4 vote in state conventions
has only happened once
Ratifying proposed amendments
The Rule of Law and Judicial Review
not all constitutional regimes have judicial review
transparent and stable decision rules are mandatory in a democracy
if citizens cannot know what to expect from gov't
legitimacy can erode
people may become less willing to accept & support gov't decisions
issues decided by force
Courts become important instruments of policy enforcement
Some governments have unlimited power but -
the more globalized the world's economy becomes
nations require a legal basis for trade and investment
why China has introduced a limited rule by law and has attempted to rein in corruption
about 1/2
some constitutional regimes have independent judiciary that can protect individuals/groups against unfair or improper implementation of laws and regulations but cannot overrule the legislative or executive and declare it "unconstitutional"
some "strong" (few) some mod. some "weak" (most)
all written constitutions contain procedures for amending
Great Britain
United States
Legislative Assemblies
Nearly every nation has some form of assembly
usually elected by popular vote
accountable to the people
186 nations have representative legislative bodies
most democracies - and some authoritarian regimes - have bicameral systems
normal for federal systems use a a bicameral system with 2 types of representation
usually one chamber based on population and other based on element of geographic (subnational) units
assemblies organized in one of two ways
by party
by structure
leadership positions
where one is strong, the other is weak
in presidential regimes
low party cohesion
low party discipline
legis. assemblies typically control gov't spending decisions
some have appointment powers
some = court of appeals
main function legis. approval
NOT policy formation
in U.S., 80% of all proposed legislation comes from executive branch
How should representation work?
should it "mirror" the polity?
should they be agents of the polity?
In the U.S., if our legislative mirrored the public, it would look like this
Symmetrical federal system: all subnational governments (states or provinces) have the same relationship with and rights in relation to the national government
Asymmetrical federal system: different subnational governments (states or provinces) have distinct relationships with and rights in relation to the national government


Principal-agent problem: problem in which a principal hires an agent to perform a task but the agent’s self-interest does not necessarily align with the principal’s
Agent may not carry out the task as assigned
Political appointees: officials who serve at the pleasure of the executive and are assigned the task of overseeing their respective segments of the bureaucracy
Members of the legislature, usually in committees, oversee the bureaucracy: legislative oversight

The Bureaucracy

Common law: legal system originating in Britain in which judges base decisions not only on the written law but also on past court cases
Stare decisis: practice of accepting the precedent of previous similar cases
Code law: legal system originating in ancient Rome and modified by Napoleon in France in which judges may only follow the law as written

The Judiciary

Semipresidential system

Two executives: president and a prime minister
President elected directly by voters
Prime minister elected by the Parliament
Prime minister leads majority in parliament
To work well, duties of each must be clearly specified—not always the case
Works most smoothly if president and PM from same party
When not, French call the result “cohabitation”
Aims to combine best of presidential and parliamentary systems
Sometimes produces instead gridlock or excessively strong president

System of relation between executive and legislative power

Forms of Government

Head of State: official, symbolic representative of a country, authorized to speak on its behalf and represent it, particularly in world affairs
Head of Government: key executive power in a state
Prime Ministers

Head of State/Government

Trade-off between:
Representation & Participation

Two major categories:
Majoritarian Democracies
Consensus Democracies

Types of Democracy

Executive: the chief political power in a state and implements all laws
Must exist in all modern states
Legislative: branch of government that makes the law in a democracy
Judiciary: branch of government that interprets the law and applies it to individual cases

The Branches of Government

Political Accountability: the ability of the citizenry,
directly or indirectly, to control political leaders and
Vertical accountability: the ability of individuals and
groups in a society to hold state institutions
Horizontal accountability: the ability of state
institutions to hold one another accountable


Which institutional choices best ensure accountability and how?
How much power should a minority have in a democracy? Do some institutional choices seem to guarantee this better than others?
Do greater participation and representation of many voices in government result in less effective policymaking?
How can we explain why an institution that works well in one setting might not work as well in another?
What explains why particular democratic institutions arise in particular countries but not in others?

Main Questions

Unitary systems: the central government has sole constitutional sovereignty and power
Federal systems: a state’s power is legally and constitutionally divided among more than one level of government


Bureaucratic strength: strong under the developmental state, later reduced by globalization
Corruption: “iron triangles” and bureaucrats’ political influence
Reform: limited effects of NPM; frustration of recent reform efforts

Case Study:

Can limit the executive in a number of ways
Based on political patronage prior to modern reforms
Leaders appointed all officials to suit the leaders’ interests
Professionalization: recruitment based on merit
Technical expertise
Advancement based on performance and personal capability

The Bureaucracy

Code law: Special constitutional courts and abstract judicial review
Judicialization: the constitutional court as veto point
Institutionalization: moderate—independence but not complete legitimacy

Case Study:

Least studied branch of government in comparative politics
Enforces a state’s laws
Plays an important political role interpreting laws, especially the constitution
Judicial Review: authority of the judiciary to decide whether a specific law contradicts a country’s constitution

The Judiciary

Executive power: initially strong, now nearly unlimited; appoints and can remove PM
Legislative power: very weak; minimal appointment powers compared to most semipresidential systems; cabinet ministers do not need to be members of legislature
Accountability: minimal
Policy-making: strong but centered almost entirely in executive
Recent trends: Under Putin, even further expansion of presidential powers

Case Study:

Veto-players: weak in Britain with stronger and fewer parties
Policy-making: strong; coalition government weakens in India
Recent trends: PMs becoming more “presidential,” but efforts to strengthen parliament via more committees and resources


The “purest form of majoritarian government”
Originated in Great Britain
Separate head of state and head of government
Head of government: prime minister (PM)
Member of the legislature
Elected by legislators, not directly by public

Concentrate power in a single place and office
Single-party executive
Executive dominance over the legislature
Single legislative branch
Constitutions that can be easily amended

Majoritarian Democracies

Executive power: depends on number and strength of parties; greater in Britain
Legislative power: greater than formal powers might suggest; Parliament as “watchdog,” even though government legislation always passes
Accountability: stronger vertical accountability; coalition governments likely to weaken, as in India

Governing Institutions in Democracies

Central vs. local control: Centralized India vs. decentralized Brazil
Symmetry: Symmetrical federalism in Brazil vs. asymmetrical in India and Russia
Political context: parties in India and semi-authoritarian rule in Russia more important than constitutional rules
Institutionalization: weak institutions and lack of democracy in Russia weakens federalism

Case Study:
Brazil, India, and Russia

Majoritarian Democracies
Great Britain & India
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