POL 190: Introduction to Comparative Politics – Midterm Exams
Democratization/Transition to democracy
Democratization is a systemic changeover to a democratic or self governing political regime. It also involves transition from a dictatorial administrative system to a complete democracy. It opposes the values instigated by an authoritarian political regime. For instance, it is notable that the Egypt’s 2013 July military expulsion of President Mohamed Morsi absolutely manifested the country’s crash in its attempts to realize a democratic transition (Brown 45). This upheaval followed the 2011’s mass rebellion against authoritarian rule of President Morsi.
According to Drogus and Orvis, military coup is an abrupt change of the ruling regime in a country through the actions of armed of forces (12). The military usually takes over the government when it feels that it is not functioning as it should. Furthermore, the military may also overthrow the government so as to fulfil its own interests. In comparative politics, military coups are analysed in terms of their positive or negative impacts as well as their recurrence over time. Madagascar is a good example of military takeover, when in the year 2009, the then president, Marc Ravalomanana, was overthrown by the military. It is important to note that numerous reasons exist to explain why a military force of a given country can decide to stage a coup to overthrow an existing government. Political influences, economic downturn, human rights violation, and bad governance can contribute massively to the coup (Lampton 64).
The failure of a state can be defined as the inability of that state to carry out its mandate in terms of providing basic services such as good governance, education, security, employment, and even healthcare. When a state fails, it becomes unable to maintain its sovereignty in that several opposing armed forces may be in control of some or of all of its territory. Several dynamics such as poverty and negative ethnicity contribute to the state failure as can be viewed through comparative politics. Somalia, in Africa, is one example where state failure has occurred; since the early 1990’s, the country has been stuck in a state of civil war with each warring faction seeking to be in control.
As the name suggests, this is a regime in which the government assumes total control of citizens’ lives through the use of military and police intimidation. Such regimes are characterised by single suppressed political parties as well as state controlled media, which is used to spread the ruling regime’s propaganda (Drogus and Orvis 45). In comparative politics, the institutionalisation level of the different regimes is studied. A good example of a totalitarian regime is the one in North Korea where media freedom is non-existent and people are jailed for speaking ill of the government.
A theocracy is a kind of regime where a deity is considered the supreme ruler of the country. Furthermore, priests or clerics commissioned by this deity are in charge of the various state ministries and are also charged with enforcing the laws of the particular religion in question. Comparative politics provides a comparison as to how different regimes apply the theocratic model of leadership and the successes or failure of such rule. Contemporary example of a theocratic state is Iran. The ruling Muslim clerics use the Sharia law as the basis for running the government. It is important to note that most nations ruled under theocratic principles are hardly democratic. They tend to be influenced much by religious values other than equality and democratic values. This kind of governance is vital as it explains what it exactly means to be a citizen in a country under theocratic rules (Ogundiya, Olutayo, and Amzat 91).
This can be defined as the right of a ruling body to have supreme control over its governed territory without interference from outside forces. Consequently, a sovereign state constitutes its own laws and a military force to protect its territory. Comparative studies show that different states have different definitions of sovereignty while other countries are unable to consolidate power in the regions they govern. Taiwan is regarded by the Republic of China as part of its territory even though it is an independent and sovereign nation with its own policies and values. Upon independence, most countries attain a given extent of sovereignty and operate to the best interest of their citizens despite the challenges met and undue pressure from the international communities. Leaders of a sovereign country are mandated to make decisions that best suites the values and principles embraced by the entire country.
Part B- Nigeria
Why Nigeria Is Considered a Weak State
Several factors support the claim that Nigeria is a Weak state; Firstly, There is widespread disintegration in the Nigerian society with the Muslims in the north and the Christians in the south having a historically strained relationship. Furthermore, the major ethnical groups of Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa are also locked in an unending competition for political and economic control. Secondly, the widespread corruption in the Nigerian state that has led to years of economic underperformance also underlines the African giant’s position as a weak state. Consequently, the country has failed to reap the benefits of its massive oil wealth with most of the revenues going to private and corrupt public officials. Thirdly, Nigeria is a weak state because the government has consistently failed to ensure the safety of its citizens. Recent attacks on civilians by the terrorist group Boko Haram, underline this failure. Finally, the state faces a constant challenge to its legitimacy. This has seen Nigeria undergo numerous military coups and consequent changes to its regime.
Why Nigeria Is Considered a Fragile Democracy
Nigeria is considered a fragile democracy because of several reasons; First of all, the election process in the country is not free and fair. The electorate is faced with intimidation during the voting period. Furthermore, the powerful politicians use their overwhelming powers to manipulate the results of the election. This means that citizens are unable to elect the candidates of their choice which is against fundamental democratic values. Secondly, Democracy requires the full participation of citizens in the civic or political matters of the nation. However, in Nigeria the public is exempt from full participation by the rich political class. Instead, these powerful individuals control the political landscape of the state through the maiming and execution of individuals who oppose them. Finally, going against a core value of democracy, human rights in Nigeria are not well protected. Numerous violations of these rights are prevalent in the Nigerian state. Furthermore, powerful individuals are able to get away with heinous crimes such as murder while the common citizens face harsh penalties for committing small crimes (Caramani 121).
Impacts Military Rule on Nigeria’s Democracy
The military rule of Nigeria had some negative impacts on the nation’s democracy. Firstly, because the military used maiming and intimidation to consolidate control of the state; the current ruling regime inherited this aspect, which explains the political intimidation of opposition leaders. Secondly, the military did not tolerate allot of criticism especially from the media and also the general public. Consequently, freedom of speech in the state is not at par with that of more democratic countries. Finally, the military rule has led to a culture of intolerance to opposition by the ruling regime.
Prospects to an improvement in Nigeria’s democracy
The prospect that Nigeria’s democracy will improve in terms of quality are high. The economy has been given a new lease of life with the introduction of some critical financial policies. This has seen Nigeria become the largest economy in Africa and the citizens are starting to enjoy a rise in their incomes. Also, the democratic space of the state could improve should the military succeed in its war against Islamic militia. There have been recent gains in the fight against Boko Haram with many of the regions that were under the control of the group being reclaimed by the government (Caramani 65).
What might lead to state failure in Nigeria
Nigeria is a country consisting of many different ethnic groups. However, the biggest threat to democracy in this African giant stems from the deep and historical divisions between Muslims and Christians. This has led to the formation of the militant group; Boko Haram, which seeks to impose Sharia law in the nation. Unless the ruling regime in Nigeria can control this extremist group, the democratic space in the nation will be undermined and this might lead to state failure. In addition, the rampant corruption that is present in the state of Nigeria has a very negative impact on the country’s democracy. The endemic corruption could potentially lead to state failure as it denies the public the chance to enjoy the full benefits of Nigeria’s resources (Bara and Pennington 121).
Bara, Judith L, and Mark Pennington. Comparative Politics. London: Sage Publications, 2009. Internet resource.
Brown, Nathan. Tracking the “Arab Spring”: Egypt’S Failed Transition. Journal of Democracy, 24.4 (2013), 45-58.
Caramani, Daniele. Comparative Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.
Drogus, Carol A, and Stephen W. Orvis. Introducing Comparative Politics: Concepts and Cases in Context. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2012. Print.
Lampton, David. How China is Ruled. 2014. Print.
Ogundiya, Ilufoye S, Akinpelu O. Olutayo, and Jimoh Amzat. Assessment of Democratic Trends in Nigeria. New Delhi: Gyan Pub. House, 2011. Print.