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Twelve in-depth case studies of the EU and countries across the globe, written by the leading country specialists and combining insights of cutting-edge institutional analysis and deep study of national histories, explore how the concepts of interests, identities and institutions shape the politics of nations and regions. The country studies trace the global and historical contexts of political development and examine the diverse pathways that countries have taken in their quest to adapt to the competitive pressures of twenty-first-century globalization. These country studies constitute the overarching framework of the text, addressing the larger question, 'why are countries ruled and governed so differently?' Free of heavy-handed jargon, Comparative Politics inspires thought-provoking debate among introductory students and specialists alike, and encourages students to engage in real comparative analysis. In this new edition, all twelve country studies have been rewritten, and the first two theory chapters have been updated to reflect the latest research in the field.
Imagine that you could design the political order for a country of your choosing. Where would you start? Who would get to rule? What rules for political life would you choose? Could you make rules that would be fair to everyone? If not, whom would these rules favor and whom would they disadvantage? Would they be rules that even those at the bottom of the social order, the poorest and least powerful people, would agree to? What would be the procedures for changing the rules? These are difficult questions because to answer them in a meaningful way requires an understanding of why and how different countries of the world are governed differently. With so many choices to make, it is easy to see why the job of designing a constitution would be such a difficult one.
It could, however, be made easier. One might start by evaluating the existing possibilities as exemplified by the various forms of government in the states of the world. The state is an organization that possesses sovereignty over a territory and its people. Yet, within our world of states, no two are ruled in exactly the same way. Why should this be the case? Why are societies run, and political orders designed, in so many different ways? What consequences do these differences hold for a people’s well-being?
In the previous chapter, we outlined our basic approach to comparative politics. In short, we see the world as made up of competing “regime types,” such as democracy, authoritarianism, fascism, and communism, which emerged in specific global and historical contexts and which shape domestic interests, identities, and institutions in particular ways. The success or failure of a given regime in one part of the world, in turn, can have dramatic effects on the global environment, influencing the domestic politics of other countries in powerful and sometimes surprising ways.
Any global order thus involves competition in world-historical space and time that affects the evolution of states. Here are the questions comparativists ask: What was the competitive international situation in which a state found itself when it attempted to modernize and industrialize? Who were its principal rivals and competitors among sovereign states? In other words, who developed first, had a head start, and could serve as a benchmark? And who developed later, had to play catch-up in order not to be left behind, and hence looked for negative and positive role models?
Political scientists have documented significant variation in political and economic outcomes of the 1989–91 revolutions. Countries bordering on western Europe have become relatively democratic and economically successful, with both democracy and wealth dropping off as one moves east and south. Explanations for this variation and the replication of an older pattern on the Eurasian landmass have moved farther and farther into the past. Yet in moving to the longue durée, more proximate events such as the revolutions of 1989, the demise of communism and even the communist experience itself recede into the background and are themselves accounted for by antecedent conditions. The article discusses how two more proximate factors helped to change older patterns in central and eastern Europe: the impact of communist modernisation and the prospect of European integration.
EARLY DEVELOPERS, MIDDLE DEVELOPERS, AND LATE DEVELOPERS
If it makes sense to group Britain and France as early developers and Japan and Germany together as middle developers, comparativists feel that it makes even more sense to group Russia and China together as late developers. Not only did both countries industrialize only in the twentieth century, but both also experienced communist revolutions and have lived with the long-term burdens of communist economic and institutional development. While Russia cast off its communist political institutions and ideology in 1991, it continues to search for a viable path into the capitalist world. Moreover, after initially moving in the direction of democracy after 1991, in the past five years Russia's rulers have become increasingly authoritarian. China, on the other hand, has retained its communist political structures but has done so while rapidly introducing capitalist economic institutions in important parts of the economy. These are the ironies that we examine in the case of the late developers.
LATE DEVELOPERS: RUSSIA AND CHINA
Compared with its European neighbors, Russia entered the twentieth century as a politically and economically backward country. As the core region of the tsarist empire, Russia had neither a constitution nor a working national parliament. Instead, Russia's tsar, Nicholas II, ruled as his father and grandfather had – as an autocrat unchecked by the power of law or political opposition.