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PSC 302: Comparative Government

Agenda & Lecture Notes

revised 24 Aug. 2010 by Jeremy Lewis

How can we compare countries?
Beyond these,
how do we establish evidence about world political conditions?

Challenges of comparative Government
(Lecture given impromptu in class 24 Aug. 2010, varies from the previous one below.)

There are significant challenges in making comparisons:

Approaches to comparison
I. Choose units. II. Turn from Statics to Dynamics? III. How to measure?
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The State and Economic Interest Groups
(ties to Crepaz and Steiner book)

Concept of State:

apparatus, bureaucrats, norms, values and myths.
Civil servants highly educated and prestigious
Interests of the Realm -- expect to be consulted, if responsible in behavior
Pluralism of interest groups found in Europe also
-- e.g. lobbying Commission.
Corporatism: formal cooperation of State with business and trade unions.
Codetermination: German unions on Boards, Swedish unions share profits, democratic workplace.
Trade Unions founded SDP and Labour parties, national organizations in UK and Germany -- and leaders may sit in assembly
Professional unions -- including civil servants
Employers' confederations, e.g. CBI
Mediaeval Guilds were wealthy, prestigious, influential
Wanderjahr system among old German city states
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Social Movements
international aid
[see also nationalism]

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Policy process and outcomes

Culture and institutions as filters for policy choices
Committee stage
Economic performance:

which government -- and strong or weak unions?
Fiscal bureaucracy (Treasury)

Inequality - Gini index
Welfare state services:

health, assistance, pensions, unemployment
Is national system or federal/state system more efficient in service delivery?

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Economist, profile of Italy: History, political structures, political forces
CIA World Factbook: Italy
Lewis travel album, 2007
Geographic challenges:
  • Apennines a barrier up length of country, communications difficult
  • Alps cut off Italy from European plate, aided defense in WW1.
  • Coastal trade is historic advantage.  Marco Polo and silk route; spice route; fabric dyeing in northern ports
  • Region and religion more important than party differences.
  • Presence of Vatican city within Rome
  • Northern League now represents urban, developed section against backward, rural southerners.
  • Italy created somewhat like Germany, in C19th: Garibaldi's risorgimento
    Myths of glorious Empire in past
    Constitutional monarchy evolved under Victor Emmanuel, until discredited post WW2
    Like Germany, founded democracy amid destruction of WW2
    Mussolini's Fascisti found power 1924, unlike Nazis -- but never as racist and never in full control.
  • minor empire recreated in Abysinia
  • levelled poor quarter to make ceremonial route for Pope
  • did Il Duce really make the trains run on time?
  • partisans controlled Sicily and south, plus Po valley in north
  • Vatican made concordat with Nazis but sheltered Jews locally
  • US cut deal with mafia to help liberate south from Germans, Lucky Luciano returned from Vegas
  • Liberation northwards was difficult, because of defensible terrain (Anzio, Monte Cassino)
  • final push in north was helped by partisans
  • Mussolini and Clara riddled with bullets, hanged upside down.
  • Postwar US intervention: Amb. Claire Booth Luce supported Christian Democrats with covert funding.
    CDs ruled 1947-1990s.
  • musical chairs cabinets, reshuffles every 3 months
  • patron and faction system
  • corruption spread, notably to universities
  • nonetheless, stability of ministers over 40 years
  • proportional representation
  • eager Europeans, benefitting from regional subsidies
  • Euro an improvement over Lira
  • development of tourism, efforts to save Venice
  • PCI (Left) and later Olive Tree coalition, found two strongholds Challenges to CDs in 1980s-1990s
  • PCI won elections in northern cities on grounds of efficiency, clean government
  • 1990s clean hands campaign in south, by young leftist magistrates.
  • Magistrates indicted much of assembly
  • Constitutional reform introduces partial FPTP elections
  • Northern League
  • Silvio Berlusconi's conservative party, wins PM - and when indicted for corruption, escapes via changes in law
  • immigrants from Albania provoke some backlash
  • 2000s, continued problems with Berlusconi, continued issues with immigrants
  • Financial meltdown 2008 caught Italy with excess debt, yet too big economy to let fail.
  • But life is still good
  • Italians remain most popular people in European surveys
  • But Switzerland remains top dream for retirement
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