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Roberts, Jr. 1 Stephen Roberts, Jr. Professor Howard Cody POS 241 17 November 2013 Political Power Parity Nation-states derive democratic strength from political, economic, and social stability. When a nation-state lacks political stability it will suffer economically (as seen recently in the United States); social justice issues will suffer, and the democracy is threatened. During my travels in Iraq, Israel, Gaza, Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, Europe and all over the United States, I have seen and heard the voices of people who want change. They want the stabilization of the economy, education and healthcare for all, renewable energy and an environmental vision with an eye on generations to come. – Michael Franti All of these factors go hand in hand as an economy suffers there will be political strife and retooling; social issues will be put to the back burner and democracy will suffer. Stability is the key to the United Kingdom’s success on the world stage. While instability is the reason that Russia and Japan have stagnated, and it is the reason that Brazil is approaching a fiscal barrier of recent. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) for short currently has a thriving parliamentary democracy consisting of an executive branch, a legislature in the form of parliament, and an active judiciary. Furthering this democracy is the extent of political parties, clean and fair elections, and special interest groups who vie for the governments’ attention. This society has historical roots in stability with no great social or political upheaval since the English

Roberts, Jr. 2 civil war in the mid 1600’s. It also has significant democratic roots based off the creation of the Magna Carta; in line with these roots there is currently a free and fair election system. The executive branch of a parliamentary system consists of the Prime Minister (PM) and the cabinet. The PM of Britain, David Cameron is of particular interest as he leads the first coalition government since the Second World War. He spearheads the executive branch, but he has a very strong Cabinet of Ministers at his side to advise him in nuanced aspects of British domestic and foreign policy. Britain follows a strict parliamentary top-down system in which the monarch is the head of state, the PM has the second most power as head of the government, the PMs’ cabinet is next after that, followed by the bureaucracy, and finally general parliament. Britain’s consolidated power in parliament allows the ruling party or coalition to push through the party platform quite easily in contrary to the presidential systems balance of powers making it much more effective during times of crisis. Parliament in both forms of the House of Commons and the House of Lords votes along party (or in recent memory coalition) lines that it is astounding that this country has remained politically stable since the end of the Second World War; regardless of such Britain has persisted on an even political keel not to mention its’ rather innocent record of human rights and social justice issues. Britain endures as the world’s sixth largest economy by GDP1 and many assert that this is due to the inherent steadiness in the entire British system. Britain’s GDP ranking is just one notch higher than more populous Brazil2. The Federative Republic of Brazil is a burgeoning presidential system democracy consisting of a strong executive branch, a feeble legislative branch consisting of two houses, and corrupt judiciary. Moving Brazil forward is the strong executive branch, and a growing economy. Detriments to this democracy include the observable lack of political parties, and the generally 1

World Bank Data asserts that Britain has a GDP of 2.435 Trillion dollars, the average rate of growth (1961-2012) is 2.40%, the average rate of growth (1994-2012) is 2.36% 2 World Bank Data asserts that Brazil has a GDP of 2.252 Trillion dollars

Roberts, Jr. 3 corrupt political system. The corruption Brazil faces is extremely detrimental to its’ democracy as it prevents free and fair elections as well as proper interest groups from taking root. This elitist system prevents most Brazilians from ever having a future in the government be them as either governmental bureaucratic agents, or workers in lobbying organizations pressuring government. Brazil also copes with rampant racism (which in its true form is arguably a practice of human corruption) due to its’ 47% white population and 43% pardo population; as with other countries the whiter ones’ skin the more opportunities may present themselves, and there is a saying in Brazil “money whitens” referring to the economic status of the upper pardo classes. Even with just over two fifths of Brazil’s population the pardo populous is wholly underrepresented in the current political system. This is attributed by many Brazilians to be caused by the geo-social hierarchical differences between the whites and the pardos, although many more non-Brazilians suggesting otherwise “In a word, the Brazilian establishment still does not believe their society has a racial problem… (Skidmore)”. At this juncture one must question “How has Brazil kept itself afloat with so many political, social, and democratic problems?” The short answer is rapid economic growth. The Brazilian economy is expanding3 at such a rate that political, social, and democratic problems are being silenced. Historically Brazil’s markets expand rapidly only to have the rug ripped out from underneath. This process of rapid growth and subsequent market crashes has been occurring even since the 1930 revolution; it is a very unstable place in modern memory; after the 1930 revolution was the 1937 coup d’état; which was then followed by a period of semi-stability between 1945 and 1964. Brazil fell into military rule in 1964, and immediately


World Bank Data asserts that the Brazilian GDP grew at an average rate of 4.40% (1961-2012), and at an average rate of 3.15% (1994-2012)

Roberts, Jr. 4 following the military instituted liberal practices which immediately created an economic boom4. This boom weathered the international oil crisis of the 1970’s for the whole unscathed, however inflation became rampant after 1981, and thus the economy deflated that year at a rate of 4.39%. These examples of the Brazilian system of boom and consequent bust have been a historical norm for the country. Contemporary Brazil is hitting an economic barrier caused by the aforementioned failures of their democratic system: corruption, no tension of powers, and an inadequate legislative branch. According to a recent British Broadcasting Corporation report5 over one million Brazilians protested the corruption and poor living conditions in cities all over the country. This instability juxtaposes to the highly stable and conformist peoples of Japan who until of late did not protest their government in large numbers. The State of Japan is a British Parliamentary democracy. This democracy exists with an executive branch in the form of a Prime Minister, an ultra-tight-knit Cabinet of Ministers, a legislative branch consisting of a bi-cameral Parliament historically governed by one party, and a standard British Parliamentary style judiciary. Promoting this democracy are the common tensions of power, clean and fair elections, lobbying groups, a firm economy based in manufacturing, and the extent of government collaboration with large corporations. Preventing this democracy includes the conformist culture of the Japanese people, one-party politics administrated by the Japanese Liberal Democrat Party, and the Parliamentary work-around6 to what the judiciary branch has ruled on concerning unconstitutional laws. The Japanese Parliamentary system offers the exact same hierarchical system as the British Parliamentary system.


World Bank Data asserts that the Brazilian GDP grew at an average rate of 6.12% (1964-1984) during the military rule 5 6

Roberts, Jr. 5 The executive branch of a parliamentary system consists of the Prime Minister (PM) and the cabinet just as in the British System. The current PM of Japan, Shinzo Abe is not new to the office of Prime Minister as he held it for a year from September 2006 until September 20077. He heads the executive branch as “primus inter tares” and therefore appoints MPs to the Cabinet of Ministers, but by no means is he leading the executive branch as the very strong Cabinet of Ministers decides most of the Japanese domestic and foreign policy. Japan follows a derivative of the traditional parliamentary hierarchal system (with Japanese morals instituted throughout) in which the Emperor is the head of state, the PM has the second most power as head of the government, the PMs’ Cabinet of Ministers is next after that, followed by the exceptional bureaucracy, and finally general parliament. Japan’s political system in parliament allows the ruling coalition (classically it is a coalition) to push through the party platform quite easily making it much more effective during times of national catastrophe and devastation like the recent earthquake, tsunami, and ensuing nuclear meltdown at the Fukishima Daiichi nuclear plant. Parliament in both forms of the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors votes along coalition lines. Most coalitions consist of the Liberal Democrat Party and other ideologically center-right parties. The LDP has had what can be amounted as a stranglehold on Japanese politics since the Second World War. They have only truly lost power twice since the end of the war. While all of this occurs there is extensive cooperation between the government and the keiretsu or in English large corporate conglomerates that span many industries from finance to automobile manufacturing (think of the U.S.’s General Electric). Cooperation between these conglomerates and the government has previously facilitated stable yet expansive economic growth8, but in the past 20 years Japan has languished in

7 8 World Bank Data asserts Japan’s GDP grew at an average rate of 6.05% (1961-1991)

Roberts, Jr. 6 stagnation9. This is partly due to government policies pre-1991 concerning national interest rates, but it is also due to the keiretsu taking loans from the customary financial institutions. This has had resounding effects on the Japanese society even into 2011. These past two years have been demanding of the Japanese due to the 3/11 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown at the Fukishima Daiichi nuclear plant. The 9.0 earthquake created a 40 meter tsunami wave10 which then hit the sea-side nuclear plant. Japan was dealt a tough hand, but it is apparent that they will rebuild unconventionally. After the nuclear meltdown the devastated Japanese people began to protest the government in masses unseen in well over a half-century. Centuries of cultural conformity was suddenly broken by 100,000 angry citizens protesting outside the PMs mansion. The issue and commentary of cultural conformity in Japan is that if there is a success it the success of the entire group of people working on it. If there is a failure it is the failure of an individual rather the group, and this individual is immediately alienated “the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to sticking with the program; our groupism; and our insularity.11� With regard to Japanese conformity it is not nearly as perplexing or undemocratic as the challenges facing Russia. The Federation of Russia is not a democracy. In fact it is the least democratically ideal country between Britain, Brazil, and Japan. Russia is rife with corruption on all levels of government, high murder rates, the highest social inequality in the world12, restrained political opposition13, limited internet freedom14, a lack of socio-economic reforms, and to top all of these 9

World Bank Data asserts Japan’s GDP grew at an average rate of 0.83% (1993-2012) 11 Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Professor Emeritus Tokyo University 12 13 14 10

Roberts, Jr. 7 immoral political issues the Russian Federation has been declared “Not Free” by the Freedom House; an international apolitical non-governmental association15. The social and political thermidor that struck Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union meant that very little meaningful change occurred. Regardless of the complete upheaval of the economic system16 the dogmatic identity of Russian politics remained mostly unaffected. The “idealist” or “Yeltsin” constitution (1993) of the Russian Federation or Russia created a government consisting of an executive branch, a bi-cameral legislative branch, and a judiciary branch. The executive authority lays with the President (the head of state) who appoints a “Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation”; also known as a Prime Minister (the head of government); who then nominates a Cabinet. This PM need not be a MP to be appointed, however similar to the British Parliamentary system the PM can vote on proposed bills. This executive branch is amalgamated and consolidated so that most if not all authority is in the hands of the President. The office of the President can dismiss government and call for elections as it so wishes. In fact the President has a constitutionally given right to do whatever they want The President of the Russian Federation shall possess immunity17… The President of the Russian Federation may be impeached by the Federation Council only on the basis of charges put forward against him of high treason or some other grave crime, confirmed by a ruling of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on the presence of indicia of crime in the President's actions and by a ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation confirming that the procedure of bringing charges has been observed.18

15 World Bank Data asserts Russia’s GDP grew at an average rate of 0.78% (1990-2012) 17 Section One, Chapter Four, Article 91, Russian Federation Constitution 18 Section One, Chapter Four, Article 93, Russian Federation Constitution 16

Roberts, Jr. 8 The Russian constitution is hypocritical in nature as it attempts to reconcile the old Soviet ways with Western democracy. The President need fear neither the courts, nor the legislative branch. This inborn and constitutionally defined lack of accountability is confusing and wholly undemocratic. Democracy is infantile in Russia. Feudalism has historical roots throughout the country from as early as the 9th Century even before Vladimir the Great with the Rurik era. This system of Feudalism lasted over a millennia outlasting Vladimir the Great, the Grand Duchy, and the Tsardom transitioning into the February revolution and subsequent October Revolution. This political and social evolution shoved Russia into the new order of society: Soviet Socialism. After the revolution and the resulting civil war the United Soviet Socialist Republic (1917-1990) was created. This period of Russian history in short is remarkably similar if not slightly more brutal and reactionary than all aforementioned Russian History. Democracy floundered. In 1990 the Soviet Union imploded politically, economically, and socially. In the chaos the Russian Federation came into existence. The Russian Federation’s transition to democracy is unfounded. Post-Soviet Union Russia held all of the same: soviet politicians, similar corrupt bureaucratic structure, ethnic divides, political instability, domestic surveillance, economic distress, a conflicted constitution, and few civil liberties or rights. “‘…politics is increasingly turning into imitation democracy,’ he said. ‘All power is in the hands of the executive branch, the president. Parliament only rubberstamps his decisions. The judicial system is not independent.’ The monopolized economy is

Roberts, Jr. 9 addicted to oil and gas, he went on, and the scale of corruption has become ‘colossal.’�19 It is for these reasons that Russia is not a democracy20. True democracies in nation-states derive their strength in stability. They have credible institutions in place to ensure both life, and liberty. The United Kingdom is the most democratic between the UK, Brazil, Japan, and Russia as it has had institutions ensure these principles in some form of democracy for centuries. Brazil is facing their problems of corruption and weak tension of powers and becoming a credible democracy on the world stage. Japan continues to stagnate in one-party politics and conformism. Meanwhile Russia is the least ideal and it now faces economic slowdown, one-man politics, and years to go before they find their own RussoDemocracy.


Washington Post Interview with Mikael Gorbachev 20 The Economist Intelligence Unit asserts that the Russian Federation is 107 most democratic nation-state with a 4.26 out of ten; where ten is democratic and zero is authoritarian

Roberts, Jr. 10 Primary Sources "Brazil - Inequality and Economic Development." The World Bank. The World Bank, 2013. Web. 16 Nov 2013. <,,contentMDK:204 15223~pagePK:146736~piPK:146830~theSitePK:258554,00.html>. "Democracy Index 2010." Economist Intelligence Unit(2010): n.pag. Economist Intelligence Unit. Web. 17 Nov 2013. <>. Skidmore, Thomas. FACT AND MYTH: DISCOVERING A RACIAL PROBLEM IN BRAZIL. THE HELEN KELLOGG INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, Web. <>. Secondary Sources "Japan Focus." Asia-Pacific Journal. 4 7 2012: n. page. Web. 16 Nov. 2013. <>. Pesek, William. "A Disaster Made in Japan." Bloomberg. n. page. Web. 16 Nov. 2013. <>. "Russia." <>.

Roberts, Jr. 11 Professor Cody, I apologize if my essay is long-winded on the economic parts. I did a lot of research and interpretation, and I felt I would be doing myself an injustice if I did not include them. I have never taken so much appreciation of an assignment, although I find all comparisons by nature are imperfect. Many thanks, Steve Roberts

Political power parity  
Political power parity  

My second test of POS 241: Comparative Politics You can tell a lot about a country by its executives, legislatures, political parties, ele...