Define Minimalist Democracy and describe some benefits and drawbacks to this school of thought.
A minimalist democracy is one that relies on representation and strong institutions in order to guarantee fair and equal competition among citizens. Stemming from the works of Locke, proponents of this approach argue that it is both impractical and unrealistic to have every single citizen be a part of the decision making process in government. By relying on elected representatives, citizens are free from their own personal limitations on reasoning and an efficient decision can be made by the politicians that represent their constituents. Additionally the creation of an electoral system and a representative based government gives citizens a political space in which they can voluntarily enter and consent to the political process. One of the drawbacks of minimalist democracy is that it takes away opportunities for citizens to participate in the decision making process. After elections have been completed, the role of citizen participation is redirected and limited to civil action and the occasional referendum. Another downside of minimalist democracy is that it is entirely dependent on the design of the government and its institutions. If these are not carefully crafted in the constitution, then there is a high risk that power can be abused or citizen sovereignty can be violated beyond the consent of the governed.
Using Realism, Liberalism, or Constructivism, describe the recent (50 < years) political climate of East Asia and some benefits/drawbacks of using this theoretical analysis.
Examining East Asia through the lens of Realism, one can argue that the peace in the region has been maintained through United States hegemony. This has been accomplished with the constant presence of the US military in the region stemming back to the end of World War 2. Additionally, the stability in the region has been built through bilateral relations between the US and East Asian countries (hub – and – spoke system). Close ties between economic and military ties between the US and Japan is an example of this. Realism would also say that institutions in East Asia are flawed because they are comprised of weak states cannot oppose US hegemony economically or militarily. With China's powers growing every year, Realist scholars argue that it will soon be able to challenge US dominance in the region. This would create a bi-polar balance of power in the region similar to that of the Cold War. One of the failures of realism in explaining East Asia is that it discounts regional norms and cultures. A similar culture combined with the shared struggle for economic growth has reduced the amount of violence between East Asian countries. Instead, there has been a rise in regional institutions and alliances, such as ASEAN, PECC, and SAARC as countries show that they can cooperate multilaterally instead of allying strictly with the hegemon. Another failure of Realism is that it actually made things more violent during the Cold War. The Korean War and the Vietnam War are just a couple examples of bi-polar power struggles playing out to the detriment of smaller, weaker nations. It remains to be seen if a return to a bi-polar balance of power, this time between the US and China, would have similar results.
Define a political institution that is found in Germany and Nigeria and describe how it is different between the two countries.
The office of President is a political institution that is found in both Germany and Nigeria. Usually elected by the people, the President is the highest executive office that acts separately from the Legislative and Judicial branches of government. The electoral systems for this office vary between countries, with some having specific voting laws and majority requirements. The powers of the president can include the ability to veto legislation, issue executive orders and/or decrees, propose laws, and appoint/dismiss other government positions. In Germany, the office of President is far weaker than it is in Nigeria. Appointed by the Federal Assembly, its serves mainly as the head of state with little power. Instead, the individual with the most power is the Chancellor who is appointed by the legislature.