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There are many type of democracies that can exist in the world. “Modern Political Democracy is a system of governance in which rulers are held accountable for their actions in the public realm by citizens, acting indirectly through the competition and cooperation of their elected representatives” (Karl). Citizens are the most important part of a democracy, because they are the people who cast the votes. In a democracy, election are held regularly and are conducted fairly. Theses elections allow citizens to choose between parties and result in a presidency or parliament.


In order for democracy to thrive, there are specific procedures that must be followed, and the civil rights of the people must be respected at all times. There are seven conditions that exist in a democracy. The first is that control over government decisions is given to the elected officials. Next, elected officials are chose in frequent and fair elections. Almost all adults have the right to vote in the election or run for elective offices. Citizens have the right to express themselves regarding political matters without the danger of severe punishment. Citizens also have the right to seek out alternative sources of information. These sources of information are protected by the law. Citizens also have the right to form political parties and interest groups (Karl).


Democracies are not necessarily more efficient economically or administratively, nor are they necessarily more stable or governable. While they will have more open societies and polities, they may not necessarily have more open economies. What democracies do have however, is have the ability, and mechanisms to modify their laws, and institutions in response to changing circumstances in society. (Karl)


England can be considered democratic because they meet all seven of the criteria listed by Karl. They have numerous parties to choose between during an election. An election takes places at least every five year’s, which results in the parliament. The parliament is the law making body of government and the citizens of England have both voting rights and human rights.


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The political parties in England are “disciplined, responsible” political parties. They have all have four characteristics. These characteristics are clear programs, pledged candidates, mandated elections, and party discipline. These characteristics make England more democratic, because people are voting based on the goals set forth by the different parties.


There are two main parties in England, the labour party and the conservative party. In England an election takes place at least every five years. The result of the elections decide the fate of the government for the next five years. The party the wins the majority of the seats in parliament is considered the “government”. The opposition party is considered Her Majesties Loyal Opposition. So what occurs in England is an alternation of power between parties over the years.


The Prime Minister is the leader of the majority party, however it is party position before it a national position (King).


Britain’s parliament is good because it is able to respond to changes in public opinion. Also because the member are elected in small constituencies, so they are therefore reasonably accurate portrayal of their citizens (White). A simple majority within the House of Commons can change laws (Studlar).


However, there are a few characteristics of England that make them different from a “typical” democracy. Individual rights in England are not protected under a written document such as a Bill of Rights, as in the United States. Instead their rights are protected by traditions and customs. In England there is also no written constitution, that governs society. Instead, the British have an enormous degree of consensus, and believe that those in government have the right to govern. There are also very few checks and balances on the British system, and no system of judicial review (King).


Japan can also be considered a democracy, yet it is different from the democracies that exist in Britain, and the United States. A democracy was installed in Japan after World War II. There is an election every four years, which like England, results in a parliament. However, where in Britain there is an alternation of power between parties, in Japan, it is dominated by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).


Japan does however fit the criteria for a democracy in that it has several different political parties that their citizens can vote for. All of their citizens can vote, and there is not literacy test or poll tax (Pempel). Yet, they combine to make a one and a half party system. The LDP is the “one” party, while all the other political parties combine together to make up the “half’. The parties are highly fractionalized within themselves around groups and individuals and are well organized. Similar to the United States where the President can only serve two terms, no Prime Minister can serve more than four years. This takes away the opportunity for a dictatorship to arise. In Japan both houses of parliament are based upon elections. The parliament decides upon the cabinet positions (Pempel)


Other aspects of Japan that make it democratic, are their constitution and their institutions. The constitution has an extensive list of rights that every citizen is guaranteed. Included in this list are the religious freedom, free speech, and no discrimination. The media is not connected to politics, and is widely available to everyone. There are televisions, book, newspapers, etc. all with information for citizens so that they can form their political views. (Pempel).


One of the things that makes Japan not as democratic as England or the United States, is the Iron Triangle. The Iron Triangle symbolizes the relationship between the LDP, bureaucracy, and big business. Within Japan, a faction system exists. A faction is the relationship between leaders and followers. Since this type of system exists, Japan has what can be considered a patron-client democracy. Within this type of democracy favors, and jobs are given in return for votes, and support. Therefore, making the political system corrupt.


Russia is not a democracy. Membership into the European Union entails being “able to demonstrate the existence of stable democratic institutions and observance of human rights, on top of a well-regulated market economy” (Peel). Russia does not meet these criteria. In Russia there is excessive state intervention, corruption, high taxes, lingering inflation and limited rule of law, all which are reasons why it can not be considered a democracy. Corruption occurs within the oligarchy, and the regional governors (├ůslund)


There is a lot of bribery related to tax collection, and law enforcement in Russia. The tax collection is high, but the money is spent inappropriately. The tax collectors are also ruthless. There however, has been a reform for a flat low tax. In his article “A Mixed Record, An Uncertain Future” McFaul considers Russia to be an “electoral democracy”, which is “…a system in which elections with certain procedures but uncertain outcomes determine who governs”.


One example of why Russia is not considered a democracy is reflected in the Chechnya war, where Russia has no respect for Human Rights. Other reasons are that within Russia there is no independent judiciary, no structured party system, no vibrant civil society, no checks on the executive. However there are a few institutions that Russia does have, making it closer to democracy. Elections do occur, where citizens have the right to vote, and also have a choice between candidates. These occur for Prime Minister and legislature. As of 1 there were 14 different parties. The parties however are more loosely organized than in England and Japan. The parties are also not stable or disciplined. They are less pragmatic, more ideological, principled and extreme.





. One expert once said about power in the U.S senate “…power is not where the rules says or appearances suggest it should be, but where it is.” Discuss where you feel the power is and is not found in the English, Japanese, and Russian political systems. What does the existence of different (or the same) sources of power tell us about the differences and/or similarities between these three political systems.





In England, power is found in the Parliament. Anything that the parliament says goes. They are responsible for making the laws which govern society. The cabinet makes the policies of the government. The cabinet is composed of the top member of the party. The policies that they makes are reflective of their parties philosophy.


Power can also be found in the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister of England is the leader of the government, but before that he is the leader of his party. The Prime Minister has the power to appoint and fire the members of the cabinet. Further more, he can also form new government positions, and abolish old ones as he see fit. However, the position can be taken away, should the party no longer support him (King).


What is surprising to realize however is that the Monarchy has no real power. Instead the crown symbolizes the traditions, customs and power of England.


Within England there is extreme consensus. There are few parties, and they are all located near the center of a political system. The citizens of England have extreme trust in the government, since there is no written constitution. The government has legitimacy, there is a sense within the public that the government has the right to govern.


The Prime Minister has the power to appoint and dismiss the cabinet members.


It should be noted however, that under Tony Blair, the balance of power has been shifting. Since he became Prime Minister he has passed power from Westminster to the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as to the European Union (The Economist).


In Japan the political system is based upon money and is corrupt. “…bureaucrats are creatures of extraordinary power in Japan” (The Economist) The Iron Triangle contains the power with the Japanese political system. The Iron Triangle is composed of the LDP, big business, and bureaucracy. It is this iron triangle that has created the current banking problems that Japan is experiencing. The banks would lend to whoever the bureaucrats thought was a good company. (The Economist). Politicians also put a good deal of money into inefficient companies, worsening the problem (The Economist). This corrupt, yet powerful relationship has dictated what occurs in Japan. It explains why there is an enormous budget set for construction. “In the Japanese system, politicians chiefly act as mediators between the bureaucrats and the voters, a role they perform mainly by delivering goodies back to their districts” (The Economist). The LDP has always had the power in society because they have favors to give to the voters. Thus the government is run on favors, and money.


A majority of the laws that are put forth for consideration are not made by the legislatures. Instead they are made by civil servants. Often after retiring, bureaucrats will pursue political careers with the LDP, who they previously had worked for. (Pempel).


Since the LDP has held power in Japan for the past few decades, it can be said they are the most powerful component of the iron triangle. It is rare that a bill they approve does not get approved by parliament.


In Russia the elected Prime Minister has the power to appoint his cabinet members, and other government positions (Lloyd). The Prime Minister also has the power to go to war, and to make reforms, as he feels is necessary.


Russia is similar to Japan in that the power lies not with the elected official but rather in an outside source. This outside source being money. Where in Japan the power resided in the iron triangle, in Russia, power lies with the oligarchs. The oligarchs are businessmen who support elections, and feel that they buy the state, so therefore they control it. As a result of this the political system is very corrupt. The taxes that the oligarchs pay, keep the government alive. Yet, in return for this money the oligarchs are left with the power of persuasion and a secure life. They expect the government to abide by their wants and needs (The Economist).


Since England’s power resides in elected officials only, it is separate from Japan and Russia. One of the reasons for this is because democracy has existed in England longer than it has in Japan. Russia has only been attempting to be a democracy for 1 years. So before power can switch hands from the oligarchs to the elected officials only, there needs to be a new Russian society. The oligarchs have to be stripped of their power, and the government needs to be able to survive independent of their money. Japan has a similar problem, in that its bank system is failing due to inefficient loans. In all three of the political system, the elected officials have key roles in what occurs in society. All three also have elections, where the citizens of the respect countries pick their leaders. However, what is different in this aspect is that in Britain there is a system of alternating power between the labour party and the conservative party. In Japan and Russia there is always one dominant party.





5. The ability of a nation to change or reform itself is often linked to the effectiveness of its political institutions. Another factor may be the abilities of its leaders. Discuss the impact that Tony Blair, Junichiro Koizumi and Vladimir Putin have had on the ability of their nation’s to bring about significant political reforms.





Before, evaluating the effectiveness of Blair to bring about political reforms, it must be noted that England, does not have a written constitution. While at first glance, it would seem that this aspect would allows for reform to take place much easier yet, in reality, reform in Britain is easier said than done. It is the customs and traditions of the people of Britain that make reform difficult.


When Tony Blair took office in 17, there were six constitutional reforms that were on the labor party’s agenda. The first was devolution of power to Scotland and Wales. The second was an elected mayor and council for London. The third was the removal of voting rights of hereditary peers in the House of Lords. The fourth was the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into British Law. The fifth was the introduction of A Freedom of Information Act and the sixth was an electoral reform at various levels of government including a referendum on changing the electoral system for Members of Parliament ( Studlar).


The goal behind the idea of the electoral reforms was to make citizens more politically active. Not only would they be voting for parliament, but also for other levels of government. The electoral reform proposed would provide more choices and options for the citizens of Britain (Studlar).


These reforms were successful and resulted in the formation of new legislature created in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These new elected assemblies would be given the power over transportation policies regarding roads, airports, public transportation, etc. (readings pg. 4). Blair believed that by giving Scotland their own Parliament, he might be able to prevent them from succeeding from Britain (Sullivan). In May of 00, Ken Livingstone won the first election for mayor of London. As of November of 1 only hereditary seats are left in the House of Lords and a Royal Commission was set up to oversee the second part of the reform. The Human Rights Act was passed in 000, which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into British Law and A freedom of Information Act was passed (Studlar).


In his first term, Blair also gave more power to the Bank of England. (The Economist). The goal of giving the Bank of England independence, meant they would no longer be under political control, and therefore control inflation (Sullivan). In his first term as Prime Minister Blair also softened Britain’s’ relationship with the European Union by signing the “Social Chapter”, negotiated some peace with Northern Ireland and raised the minimum wage (The Economist).


One of the reforms that Blair has not yet been successful at is the attempt at monetary union with the European Union, getting rid of the traditional pound for the new euro. The British are not eager to make this change, because the pound symbolizes to them England and all its greatness.


For his second term, Blair is not pushing for as much constitutional reform (Studlar). Instead he wants to improve public services such as health, education, transportation, etc. Blair would also like to make Britain’s relation with the rest of Europe better, and move toward a union of the two (readings pg. 41).


Overall, Tony Blair achieved many significant political reforms during his first five years as Prime Minister. He was able to accomplish five of the six reforms that he set forth to do, making him have a huge impact on the current status of England and also making him a very efficient Prime Minister.


Junichiro Koizumi faced different obstacles than Tony Blair did in his attempt to reform Japan. The first problem he faced was his own party. Koizumi is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is the dominant party in Japan. The LDP however is very resistant to any change because they have a lot of success in elections under the current status quo (The Economist). Therefore, any change in society, could result in the LDP no longer being in power.


Once he became Prime Minister, the first thing he did was change the make-up of the government. He gave just two of the cabinet positions to members of the Hashimoto faction. This faction previously had five. He also brought in outsiders in order to be more balanced. He gave portfolios to non-politicians from the private sector, who had expertise in these areas. However, perhaps the boldest thing that he did was give five of the seventeen cabinet positions to women (The Economist).


His goal was “to transform the government though privatization and regulatory reform, to bring in a new tax system, to tackle bad banks’ debts, to liberate the local government, and control the budget deficit…” (The Economist).


He wanted to remove policy making from the hands of the LDP elders and the bureaucrats. This would be achieved by him and his associates making their proposals which would be endorsed by the cabinet and if appropriate by the new Council on Economics and Fiscal Policy (The Economist). Koizumi also wants to push for a prompt write-down of bad loans, even though this would create more bankruptcies and higher unemployment (readings 8).


Koizumi also wants to reform the postal system. Koizumi wanted to privatize the system, which would have negative effects such as more corporate failures, higher unemployment and possibly a recession (readings pg. 8).


Koizumi has singled out seven corporations, four of which build roads and bridges, for special attention (The Economist). The reason for this is because this “has come to represent everything that is wrong with Japan’s political economy” (The Economist). In the past, Japan used these types of industries to take up the excess unemployment in Japan.


Political resolve for reform endures because voters have changed over the years, and are demanding that these changes occur (The Economist). This helps Koizumi maintain his position as Prime Minister despite the fact that he has not been successful with implementing his reforms.


What is unique about him, however, is that he not a member of a faction. Further more, he criticizes the faction system, as well as the close relationship between politics and business (The Economist). The problem is that, this faction system still has an enormous amount of power, and therefore Koizumi is constantly battling with it and with members of his only party to get reforms to take place. This is the reason why he has not been as successful as Tony Blair.


The reason that reforms do not take place often in Russia is because it is a country that is governed by “an entrenched bureaucracy of party and government officials” (Smith). These people have been trying to avoid change and reforms so that they can stay in power. One of the other reasons that reforms do not occur is because of the mind set of the Russian population (Smith).


Vladimir Putin is the current Prime Minister of Russia. He is obsessed with National Security and therefore some of the first reforms that he did, were military reforms. He sees the current army as being “wasteful and ineffective”(The Economist).


The main problems in Russia that need reforms are the legislature, executive, and judiciary branches of government. Parliament in Russia passes laws fast, state officials abuse human rights, people in high positions often vote they way they are told, because they are being paid to, rather than how they feel (The Economist).


The judges in Russia are not trained, paid bad, and are often under heavy outside pressure (The Economist). These three things make the judicial system corrupt. Putin, however has made reforms to the judicial system. Putin has made progress by making a system that is based upon laws, instituting jury trials and paying judges more (The Economist). However, the prosecutor’s office, FSB, tax police, interior ministry and armed forces all remain unreformed (The Economist). The citizens of Russians feel that the laws that govern them are bad, so therefore they have no remorse over breaking them, leaving a corrupt society.


Putin sees a stronger state as meaning a stronger bureaucracy. His main goal is rebuild a state of poverty and unemployment. Russians however want to strengthen the state by making the economy more rule based, and market oriented. Russia has become a capitalist country, so Putin can not control the economy (The Economist). He has put forth reforms that would simplify taxes and free the market in urban land (The Economist). The biggest problem in Russian comes from bureaucracy and the corrupt overlap between politics and business. The regional leaders and the oligarchy are more powerful than the federal government (The Economist). It is because of this powerful relationship, that Putin is not a successful as other Prime Ministers in getting his reforms passed.





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