POLITICAL PROCESSES AND INSTITUTIONS IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE
IGNOU BPSC 109 Solved Free Assignment
BPSC 109 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. Analyze the mechanisms and challenges to operationalising pluralism.
Ans. According to Pluralism, there are different ways of leading a good life. It enjoys diversity and works towards redressing the ethnic exclusions that are an inherent by-product of modern nationalist discourse.
MECHANISMS OF OPERATIONALIZING PLURALISM
There are many hindrances that come in ensuring the survival of marginalized cultures of minorities because of the differences and disagreements between the minority and majority communities.
It is important for the states to define the ‘range of permissible diversity’ and develop a method in order to ensure the fair treatment of the minority communities.
The demand made by minorities is of equality and preserving their identities. This balance needs to be maintained between the demands of the minorities and the need for national unity.
As suggested by John McGarry and Brendan O, Leary, the ways of dealing with the problem of ethnic conflict are:
- Self-government in cases of territorial segregation.
- The security of the majority group and not fearing the minorities.
· Demographic stability where a group is not surpassing another one.
.The cooperation among ethnic political elites.
The example of power sharing in some countries was given by Arend Lijphart and Michael Hecter recommended a federal system that provides a balance between centripetal and centrifugal tendencies as a solution to the nationalist conflict.
CHALLENGES IN OPERATIONALIZING PLURALISM
The nation-state has a limited capacity to provide equal treatment for all its communities and it is partial and culturally biased in nature. There are many differences in a culturally heterogeneous nation state.
There is a limited understanding of the minority cultures and hence no nation-state can ensure complete equality for all its cultural communities.
It might not be possible to give equal treatment but fair treatment is possible. The understanding of the needs and the requirements of the communities is possible.
The challenge is operationalising and institutionalizing pluralism. Another important requirement is that the minority community should be allowed to continue.
In order to achieve this, it is important to be culturally sensitive and take an objective test like asking questions such as what a group needs to function efficiently and be significant and whether it can be modified without destructing the identity of the community.
According to Parekh, these challenges need a historically sensitive approach to equality and the creation of public platforms representing different communities to discuss such complex issues.
Q. 2. The functions of political parties are not limited to electoral politics. Discuss with suitable examples.
Ans. The functions of political parties are not limited to electoral politics. There are many other functions performed by the political parties.
Political parties are basically created in order to make sure that the country has a group of people to rule over it.
Not to mention that it provides the people of the country with a particular choice to make an effective and more evolved decision for the government that they have.
Apart from that, the drive to win an election also drives other political parties to perform well and gather more votes than their competitors.
So, it can be said that the functions of political parties are certainly very important for the betterment of the country. The party that ends up getting most of the votes will be the one winning the elections.
But why do we need to have a political party in the first place? This is exactly what we are going to find out right now.
When it comes to discussing a political party, it can be said that this party is made up of a particular group of people.
The people then come together to compete in order to win the elections so that they get a major share of the power while running the government.
Apart from that, political parties also enable voters to support common goals and interests in the country.
The main role of political parties in India is to make sure that several political policies and agendas are being created and fixed for the betterment of the country.
So, that is one of the main reasons why every single political party tries to ensure the people take claims of their policies and end up voting for them.
If seen from a broader view, with the help of a political party, the people will be able to send their messages to the government on the needs and requirements of the country.
Every single political party must have some important components:
. Members that are active
When it comes to the functions that a political party has, there are quite many. It is important for the parties to perform these functions so that they can be considered a political party in the first place.
We are going to list some of these functions and features of a political party so that you can understand them in a better way:
. It is the function of a political party to put up certain candidates that can help in the elections.
- For countries such as the USA, members, as well as the supporters of the parties, tend to select the candidates.
. However, in India, the top leaders of the party are responsible for the selection of the candidates.
. There are different programs and policies of every single party. Voters have to make the selection on the basis of their like and dislike for certain policies.
. If it is a democratic country, a political party would consist of people who have similar opinions and views regarding the running of the government.
. The parties that don’t win an election are known as the opposition. These parties have different policies and views. The opposition is often seen to criticize the policies and views of the government in case there is a failure anywhere.
- Another one of the major functions of political parties is that they tend to shape the opinion of the public. There are certain pressure groups that help in the launching of movements in order to solve the problems that people are facing.
. Political parties also have access to different welfare schemes and machinery of the government.
Q. 1. Describe the processes involved in political modernization.
Ans. Political modernization refers to the change in the political culture and political institutions, as a result of the process of modernization.
It is the change in political culture and political institutions that combine together and leads to the acceleration of a process through which the performance standard and achievement can be obtained by the less developed societies.
Like political development it is very difficult to give a precise definition of political modernization. It is a process which is based upon the rational utilization of resources aiming at the establishment of a modern society.
The term modern society stands for a society which is characterized by the application of technology, by extensive social interdependence, urbanization, literacy, social mobility and many such other factors.
In the context of western societies, modernization has involved a breakdown of traditional society and the rise of a completely different society on its ashes.
A society that is based on advanced technology and the spirit of science, a secular approach to social relations, a feeling for justice in the public matters.
According to the concept of a modern society, a modern man is he who has the attributes of compassion, humanness and universalistic world view, the one who possesses a secular outlook and who is committed to the values of unity, mutuality and harmony.
This may rightly be called as a humanistic concept of modernization. It believes in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind.
This concept or these humanistic conceptions of modernization differ from other similar concept of modernization.
Political modernization is not only concerned with the change in the political attributes of the individual or a political system of a modern society, but it has a wider scope. It covers a large area of our social life in different sphere.
It is thus simultaneously concerned with many things at a time. It is also concerned with a change in the outlook of an individual, a change in the philosophy of a political system, political culture and covering and thus the realm of economics, sociology, psychology and industrialization together with the urbanization of rural life.
There are many dimensions of political modernization. It has been viewed from psychological, intellectual, social and economic sphere.
The modern man believes that change in nature and society is not only possible but can be brought about by him.
At the intellectual level it involves a tremendous expansion of man’s knowledge about his environment and the distribution of this knowledge in the society through incased literacy, mass communication and education.
Modernization is thus regarded as a comprehensive phenomenon.
The western concept of modernization stands for the replacement of society by a complete rejection, based on an advanced technology and a secular approach to social relations.
In India it stands for continuity and change, creation of a new identity without destroying its glorious rich heritage. Modernization is essentially a restructuring of tradition along democratic lines.
It means creation of a new system upon an old system and not the substitution of a new and withdrawing of the old.
Q. 2. Briefly describe the Single member plurality systems bringing out its advantages and limitations.
Ans. Single Member Plurality (SMP) electoral systems, some times known as fist past the post, are simple systems to administer. The candidate who gets more votes than any other candidate is declared the winner.
Depending upon the number of candidates and their relative popularity, the winning candidate may or may not need a majority of votes to win.
SMP elections can led to a significant distortion between the percentage of votes and the percentage of seats a party wins across a whole province or country. This arises because of the geographic distribution of votes.
In the following two hypothetical elections, each party wins the same amount votes, but they are distributed differently across the province.
Single-member Plurality (SMP) systems are commonly found in countries that have inherited elements of the British parliamentary system; it is this kind of electoral system that is most familiar to Canadians.
In electoral districts represented by one member in an elected assembly, simple rather than absolute majorities suffice to determine the winner of an electoral contest. Each elector marks a single “X” (or other similar mark) beside the name of the
candidate of his or her choice. Although several candidates may compete for the seat, the winner need only attract the largest number of votes cast.
For this reason, this kind of electoral system is referred to as a “single-member plurality” or a “first past the post” system. Electoral systems of this sort are used in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Single-Member Plurality Systems
In this system, the winner is the person that holds the maximum number of votes. The whole area gets segregated into single-member constituencies which are usually of equal size.
In this system each voter gets to vote for a single candidate to be in charge of their constituency.
The system is known as the First Past the Post System in which there is a higher probability of winning the election despite getting minority votes in favour. The drawback of the system is that it results in wastage of many votes.
The elected candidate enjoys only minority support but the authenticity of the governments also can be questioned.
There are many limitations in the system but the advantage is that the government formed in such systems claim clear mandate from the electorates even though it based on simple majority.
This reduces any kind of radical group or extremism from gaining strength in the political system.
The voters get the sufficient choices of candidates and varying criteria of choosing the representatives are allowed to exist simultaneously which in turn make the democratic element stronger.
Q. 3. How has the struggle for citizenship contributed to the rise of liberal democratic state in Europe?
Ans. The modernization and formalization of the modern-nation states took a lot of time to dominate the European map. The country saw the increase in the centralisation of power under the rule of the absolutist rulers.
These steps were backed in the ideational domain by the theories of sovereignty, especially state sovereignty at this point of time.
The rise of the notion of popular sovereignty also witnessed the push for accountability from the rulers and democratic governance.
The base or the formation of modern nation state was laid by the concept of sovereignty.
Following are the most prominent innovations of the modern state as outlined by David Held:
. Territoriality: The modern state system has fixed and exact borders.
.Control of the Means of Violence: The pacification of people brought a hold on the monopoly on force and the means of coercion.
- Impersonal Structure of Power: As the political rights, obligations and duties were closely tied to the religion, therefore the idea of an impersonal and sovereign political order was another greatest innovation.
. Legitimacy: The individuals won a place as active citizens in the political order only when the claims to ‘divine right’ or ‘state right’ were challenged and eroded.
The Struggle for Citizenship
According to Held, there are three reasons as to why “citizenship crystallize in many Western polities in the form of civil and political rights” ultimately leading to the rise of the liberal democratic modern nation state. These includes:
(i) Reciprocity of power.
(ii) Weakening of the traditional forms of legitimacy.
(iii) The liberal representative democracy did not threaten the growing autonomy of the civil and economic society. There were many other battle and struggles that had to be won by different groups of people.
Women fought for their basic rights in almost all parts of the world and were granted voting rights in France in 1944 and in Britain in 1928.
Q. 1. Relative autonomy thesis.
Ans. Relative autonomy is a theory of state power based on Marxist ideas. The renewal of Marxist theory inaugurated by Louis Althusser and his associates in the 1960s had as one of its aims the rescue of Marxism from the charge of economism (or economic determinism).
According to Althusser, the social totality consisted of four distinct sets of practices – economic, political, ideological, and theoretical – in complex combination with one another. None of these practices should be thought of as reducible to any of the others.
On the contrary, each has its own ‘relative autonomy’ within limits set by its place in the totality. Critics have argued that in the absence of any specification of what these limits might be, the concept lacks explanatory content.
The most sustained attempt to apply the concept in substantive analyses will be found in the works of Nicos Poulantzas.
Relative autonomy perspective assumes that the state can and does play a limited independent role in the maintenance and stabilization of capitalist society.
Relative autonomy differs from pluralism in viewing state power as strongly constrained by the ideological and structural characteristics of capitalism and capitalist society.
Although the instrumentalist approach to state occupies the prominent place in the domain of Marxian approach to state, the relative autonomy model is of great importance.
Louis Pierre Althusser argues that the various superstructures, like law, politics and ideology, are characterized by a “relative autonomy” from the base.
The relative autonomy theory is a helpful method by which Marxists may cope with the empirical reality of the educational system and economy relationship.
Q. 2. Procedural and substantive democracy.
Ans. Procedural democracy is a term used to denote the particular procedures, such as regular elections based on universal suffrage, that produce an electorally-legitimated government.
Procedural democracy, with its centering of electoral processes as the basis of democratic legitimacy, is often contrasted with substantive or participatory democracy, which centers the equal participation of all groups in society in the political process as the basis of legitimacy.
The term is often used to denote an artificial appearance of democracy through the existence of democratic procedures like elections when in reality power is held by a small group of elites who manipulate democratic processes to make themselves appear democratically legitimate.
Procedural democracy is a democracy in which the people or citizens of the state have less influence than in traditional liberal democracies. This type of democracy is characterized by voters choosing to elect representatives in free elections.
Substantive democracy is a form of democracy in which the outcome of elections is representative of the people. In other words, substantive democracy is a form of democracy that functions in the interest of the governed.
Although a country may allow all citizens of age to vote, this characteristic does not necessarily qualify it as a substantive democracy.
In a substantive democracy, the general population plays a real role in carrying out its political affairs, i.e., the state is not merely set up as a democracy but it functions as one as well.
This type of democracy can also be referred to as a functional democracy. There is no good example of an objectively substantive democracy.
The opposite of a substantive democracy is a formal democracy, which is where the relevant forms of democracy exist but are not actually managed democratically.
The former Soviet Union can be characterized in as such, since its constitution was essentially democratic but in actuality the state was managed by a bureaucratic elite.
Q. 3. Structuralism and democratisation.
Ans. Barrington Moore was the main proponent of structuralism who proclaimed that there are many paths to modernization and that the path taken by an individual nation was determined by the nature of relationships between different classes that existed.
The approach is called structuralism as it gives importance to structures. According to the structuralists, democracy can be seen as state transformation and they investigated state through conflict between different classes over a period of time.
Democracy was the result when:
. The transformation of peasants into urban workers with the expansion of towns and industries solved the question of peasant.
. The rise of the bourgeoisie class defeats the landed class and converts it in its struggles for state control.
There are shortcomings associated with the Structuralism approach. The post-modernists proclaimed that the power is a distributed concept which should be understood in a static manner.
The approach is not able to explain the onset of sudden democratization in former Communist countries in East and Central Europe and the former Soviet republics where there was little evidence of class struggle or agitation for democracy.
An important role was played by the civil society in democratization in Central and Eastern Europe.
The civil society reappeared in the region during the 1980s and played an important role in the democratization process. One thing that should be noted is that not all civil societies promote democratic values.
The social media and information technology also plays an important role in promoting democratization.
The democratization as a process could be understood in three phases as follows:
Introduction: In this phase democracy is launched in a non-democratic regime because of the breakdown of the non- democratic government which could be linked to loss of legitimacy.
. Transition: In this phase, he democratic features of the state strengthen as new structures and institutions come up. The three general type of transitions are transition based on a pact or agreement and second is Bottom-Up transition in societies where the authoritarian regime is destroyed by popular movements and loses complete legitimacy and Top- Down transition in which the authoritarian regime begins the democratic reforms since it sees them as a necessary tool for survival of its rule.
. Consolidation: In this phase, the democratic values become firmly implanted in the state and their reversal becomes unthinkable.
Q. 4. Participatory budgeting.
Ans. Participatory budgeting is a form of citizen participation in which citizens are involved in the process of deciding how public money is spent.
Local people are often given a role in the scrutiny and monitoring of the process following the allocation of budgets.
Participatory budgeting began in Porto Alegre in Brazil in 1989 and was credited with shifting priorities to better support the poorest parts of the city, improving services, improving infrastructure, strengthening governance, and increasing citizen participation.
It was a real success in terms of involving people typically left outside of the political process.
The money allocated to the participatory budget in Porto Alegre was US$ 64 million, or 21% of the total budget in 1999.
In the UK, most cases of participatory budgeting have been small scale community grant allocations.
Even on a smaller scale, they have been credited with improving the self-confidence of individuals and organisations, improving intergen- erational understanding, encouraging greater local involvement through increased volunteering and the formation of new groups, increasing confidence in local service providers, and increasing control for residents over the allocation of resources.
Participatory budgeting could be used after a devolution deal has been agreed. While based on use in local settings, it has the ability to be scaled up to make decisions about entire regions as well, as in the case of Porto Alegre.
The decisions made by the participatory budgeting forums should be binding.
Careful consideration should be given towards ensuring that the citizens involved are given sufficient information and support to reach decisions that can be enacted.
This helps avoid feelings of dis-enfranchisement which result from decisions not being acted on.
Participatory budgeting gives citizens real control over where a budget is spent. As such, budgets can be spent in a way which better reflects the strengths, needs and aspirations of the population and can be more effective.
Q. 5. Brazilian federalism.
Ans. Brazil is one of the largest federal states in the world which began as a unitary central authority as a colony. The country became a federation after the adoption of the republican constitution in 1889.
The federalism of the country is unique in nature as there are municipalities as integral entities of the federal structure.
The municipalities of the country are independent and enjoy coequal status along with the provinces unlike in other federal countries where the federal units, that is, the provinces/ states, control the local bodies.
In many other federal countries, a large share of the total tax revenue is given to the states and municipalities.
The state governors possess a lot of influence and power. The structure of Brazil is considered as a cooperative federalism as the distribution of powers and responsibilities is based on cooperation between the three federal entities: central, state and municipal authorities.
The country has a bicameral national legislature – the Federal Senate or the upper house and the Chamber of Deputies or the lower house.
The main focus of the Constitution of 1988 is on decentralization and not just the deconcentration of finance and revenue.
In order to control debt and managing finances, the states and municipalities were granted autonomy. The federal government has restricted jurisdiction over controlling the expenditure at the state and municipal levels.
The policy making in the country is restricted at the federal level which disregards differential preferences and needs of various regions, the local level governments enjoy much autonomy in designing the policy or the programme and then implementing it.
In May 2000, the Fiscal Responsibility Law was passed which confined the expenditure levels of all governments and prohibited re-financing of the debt of the provinces and municipalities.