Are politics and government the same thing?


Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions., government is the organization through which a political unit exercises its authority, controls and administers public policy.

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Group decision making (also known as collaborative decision making) is a situation faced when individuals collectively make a choice from the alternatives before them. This decision is no longer attributable to any single individual who is a member of the group. This is because all the individuals and social group processes such as social influence contribute to the outcome. The decisions made by groups are often different from those made by individuals. Group polarization is one clear example: groups tend to make decisions that are more extreme than those of its individual members, in the direction of the individual inclinations. There is much debate as to whether this difference results in decisions that are better or worse. According to the idea of synergy, decisions made collectively tend to be more effective than decisions made by a single individual. However, there are also examples where the decisions made by a group are flawed, such as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the incident on which the Groupthink model of group decision making is based. Factors that impact other social group behaviours also affect group decisions. For example, groups high in cohesion, in combination with other antecedent conditions (e.g. ideological homogeneity and insulation from dissenting opinions) have been noted to have a negative effect on group decision making and hence on group effectiveness. Moreover, when individuals make decisions as part of a group, there is a tendency to exhibit a bias towards discussing shared information (i.e., shared information bias), as opposed to unshared information. The social identity approach suggests a more general approach to group decision making than the popular Groupthink model which is a narrow look at situations where group decision making is flawed. Social identity analysis suggests that the changes which occur during collective decision making is part of rational psychological processes which build on the essence of the group in ways that are psychologically efficient, grounded in the social reality experienced by members of the group and have the potential to have a positive impact on society. Decision making in groups is sometimes examined separately as process and outcome. Process refers to the group interactions. Some relevant ideas include coalitions among participants as well as influence and persuasion. The use of politics is often judged negatively, but it is a useful way to approach problems when preferences among actors are in conflict, when dependencies exist that cannot be avoided, when there are no super-ordinate authorities, and when the technical or scientific merit of the options is ambiguous. In addition to the different processes involved in making decisions, group decision support systems (GDSS) may have different decision rules. A decision rule is the GDSS protocol a group uses to choose among scenario planning alternatives. Plurality and dictatorship are less desirable as decision rules because they do not require the involvement of the broader group to determine a choice. Thus, they do not engender commitment to the course of action chosen. An absence of commitment from individuals in the group can be problematic during the implementation phase of a decision. There are no perfect decision making rules. Depending on how the rules are implemented in practice and the situation, all of these can lead to situations where either no decision is made, or to situations where decisions made are inconsistent with one another over time. Sometimes, groups may have established and clearly defined standards for making decisions, such as bylaws and statutes. However, it is often the case that the decision making process is less formal, and might even be implicitly accepted. Social decision schemes are the methods used by a group to combine individual responses to come up with a single group decision. There are a number of these schemes, but the following are the most common: There are strengths and weaknesses to each of these social decision schemes. Delegation saves time and is a good method for less important decisions, but ignored members might react negatively. Averaging responses will cancel out extreme opinions, but the final decision might disappoint many members. Plurality is the most consistent scheme when superior decisions are being made, and it involves the least amount of effort. Voting, however, may lead to members feeling alienated when they lose a close vote, or to internal politics, or to conformity to other opinions. Consensus schemes involve members more deeply, and tend to lead to high levels of commitment. But, it might be difficult for the group to reach such decisions. Groups have many advantages and disadvantages when making decisions. Groups, by definition, are composed of two or more people, and for this reason naturally have access to more information and have a greater capacity to process this information. However, they also present a number of liabilities to decision making, such as requiring more time to make choices and by consequence rushing to a low quality agreement in order to be timely. Some issues are also so simple that a group decision-making process leads to too many cooks in the kitchen: for such trivial issues, having a group make the decision is overkill and can lead to failure. Because groups offer both advantages and disadvantages in making decisions, Victor Vroom developed a normative model of decision making that suggests different decision making methods should be selected depending on the situation. In this model, Vroom identified five different decision making processes. Decide- Here, the leader of the group uses other group members as sources of information, but makes the final decision independently, and does not explain to group members why she/he requires that information. Consult (individual)- The leader talks to each group member alone, never consulting with the entire group as a whole. She/he then makes the final decision in light of this individually-obtained information. Consult (group)- The leader consults the entire group at once, asking for opinions and information, and then comes to a decision. Facilitate- In this strategy, the leader takes on a cooperative holistic approach, collaborating with the group as a whole as they work toward a unified and consensual decision. The leader is non-directive, and never imposes a particular solution on the group. In this case, the final decision is the one made by the group, and not the leader. Delegate- The leader takes a backseat approach, passing the problem over to the group. The leader is supportive, but allows the group to come to a decision without their direct collaboration. The idea of using computerized support systems is discussed by James Reason under the heading of intelligent decision support systems in his work on the topic of human error. James Reason notes that events subsequent to The Three Mile accident have not inspired great confidence in the efficacy of some of these methods. In the Davis-Besse accident, for example, both independent safety parameter display systems were out of action before and during the event. Decision making software is essential for autonomous robots and for different forms of active decision support for industrial operators, designers and managers. Due to the large number of considerations involved in many decisions, computer-based decision support systems (DSS) have been developed to assist decision makers in considering the implications of various courses of thinking. They can help reduce the risk of human errors. DSSs which try to realize some human/cognitive decision making functions are called Intelligent Decision Support Systems (IDSS), see for ex. . On the other hand, an active/intelligent DSS is an important tool for the design of complex engineering systems and the management of large technological and business projects, see also: "Decision engineering, an approach to Business Process Reengineering (BPR) in a strained industrial and business environment". Groups have greater informational and motivational resources, and therefore have the potential to outperform individuals. However they do not always reach this potential. Groups often lack proper communication skills. On the sender side this means that group members may lack the skills needed to express themselves clearly. On the receiver side this means that miscommunication can result from information processing limitations and faulty listening habits of human beings. It is also the case that groups sometimes use discussion to avoid rather than make a decision. Avoidance tactics include the following: • Procrastination. Replacing high priority tasks with tasks of lower priority. The group postpones the decision rather than studying the alternatives and discussing their relative merits. • Bolstering. The group may quickly or arbitrarily formulate a decision without thinking things through to completion. They then bolster their decision by exaggerating the favorable consequences of the decision and minimizing the importance of unfavorable consequences. • Denying responsibility. The group delegates the decision to a subcommittee or diffuses accountability throughout the entire group, thereby avoiding responsibility. • Muddling through. The group muddles through the issue by considering only a very narrow range of alternatives that differ to only a small degree from the existing choice. • Satisficing. A combination of satisfy and suffice. Members accept a low risk, easy solution instead of searching for the best solution. • Trivializing the discussion. The group will avoid dealing with larger issues by focusing on minor issues. Two fundamental laws that groups all too often obey: Parksinson’s Law: A task will expand to fill the time available for its completion. (Ex: Groups that plan to meet for an hour stay for the duration). Law of triviality: The amount of time a group spends discussing an issue will be in inverse proportion to the consequentiality of the issue (Ex: Committee discusses $20 million stadium fund for 3 minutes). Cognitive Limitations and Subsequent Errors Individuals in a group decision-making setting are often functioning under substantial cognitive demands. As a result, cognitive and motivational biases can often impact group decision making. According to, there are three categories of potential biases that a group can fall victim to when engaging in decision-making. 1. Sins of Commission: The misuse, or inappropriate use of information. These can include: a) Belief perseverance: when a group utilises information in their decision making, which has already been deemed inaccurate b)Sunk cost bias: when a group remains committed to a given plan of action solely because an investment has already been made in that given plan, despite its usefulness c)Extra-evidentiary bias: A group choosing to rely on information, despite being explicitly told it should be ignored d)Hindsight bias: When group members falsely over-estimate how accurate their past knowledge of a given outcome 2. Sins of Omission: The overlooking of useful information. These can include: a)Base rate bias: When group members ignore applicable information they have concerning basic trends/tendencies b)Fundamental attribution error: When group members base their decisions on inaccurate appraisals of individuals behaviour 3. Sins of Imprecision: Relying too heavily on heuristics, which over-simplify complex decisions. These can include: a) Availability heuristic: when group members rely on information that is readily available, in making a decision. b)Conjunctive bias: When groups are not aware that the probability of one event occurring will always be greater than the probability of two events occurring together. c) Representativeness heuristic: when group members rely too heavily on decision-making factors that seem meaningful, but in reality are somewhat misleading. Indeed, in a group-decision making context, it would be beneficial for group members to be cognisant of the aforementioned biases and errors which may affect their ability to make informed and tactful decisions.
Political authorities hold positions of power or influence within a system of government. Although some are exclusive to one or another form of government, many exist within several types.
A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch is led by a person who serves as both head of state and head of government. That person is usually elected and titled "president", but can also be an unelected monarch.][ In a presidential system, the executive branch exists separately from the legislature, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it. The title president has been carried over from a time when such person actually presided over (sat in front of) the government body, as with the US President of the Continental Congress, before the executive function was split into a separate branch of government. After this split, the President was no longer needed to sit in front of the legislative body, although the executive title remained in legacy. Although not exclusive to republics, and applied in the case of semi-constitutional monarchies where a monarch exercises power (both as head of state and chief of the executive branch of government) alongside a legislature, the term is often associated with republican systems in the Americas. Presidential systems are numerous and diverse, but the following are generally true of most such governments: Countries that feature a presidential system of government are not the exclusive users of the title of President or the republican form of government. For example, a dictator, who may or may not have been popularly or legitimately elected may be and often is called a president. Likewise, many parliamentary democracies are republics and have presidents, but this position is largely ceremonial; notable examples include Germany, India, Ireland, Israel and Portugal (see Parliamentary republic). Some national presidents are "figurehead" heads of state, like constitutional monarchs, and not active executive heads of government (although some figurehead presidents and constitutional monarchs maintain reserve powers). In contrast, in a full-fledged presidential system, a president is chosen by the people to be the head of the executive branch. Presidential governments make no distinction between the positions of head of state and head of government, both of which are held by the president. Many parliamentary governments have a symbolic head of state in the form of a president or monarch (Again, in some cases these symbolic heads of state maintain active reserve powers). That person is responsible for the formalities of state functions, or in cases where the head of state has reserve powers, the "hands off" ensuing of a functional parliament, while the constitutional prerogatives of head of government are generally exercised by the prime minister. Such figurehead presidents tend to be elected in a much less direct manner than active presidential-system presidents, for example, by a vote of the legislature. A few nations, such as Slovakia, Ireland and Portugal, do have a popularly elected ceremonial president. A few countries (e.g., South Africa) have powerful presidents who are elected by the legislature. These presidents are chosen in the same way as a prime minister, yet are heads of both state and government. These executives are titled "president", but are in practice similar to prime ministers. Other countries with the same system include Botswana, the Marshall Islands, and Nauru. Presidents in a presidential system are always active participants in the political process, though the extent of their relative power may be influenced by the political makeup of the legislature and whether their supporters or opponents have the dominant position therein. In some presidential systems such as Weimar Germany and South Korea, there is an office of prime minister or premier but, unlike in semi-presidential or parliamentary systems, the premier is responsible to the president rather than to the legislature. Subnational governments, usually municipalities, may be structured as a presidential system. All of the state governments of the United States use the presidential system, however this is not constitutionally required. On a local level, many cities use the Council-manager government, which is equivalent to a parliamentary system (although the post of a city manager is normally a non-political position). Another example is Japan where the national government uses the parliamentary system but the prefectural and municipal governments have governors and mayors elected independently from local assemblies and councils. Supporters generally claim four basic advantages for presidential systems: In most presidential systems, the president is elected by popular vote, although some such as the United States use an electoral college (which is itself directly elected) or some other method. By this method, the president receives a personal mandate to lead the country, whereas in a parliamentary system a candidate might only receive a personal mandate to represent a constituency. The fact that a presidential system separates the executive from the legislature is sometimes held up as an advantage, in that each branch may scrutinize the actions of the other. In a parliamentary system, the executive is drawn from the legislature, making criticism of one by the other considerably less likely. A formal condemnation of the executive by the legislature is often regarded to be a vote of no confidence. According to supporters of the presidential system, the lack of checks and balances means that misconduct by a prime minister may never be discovered. Writing about Watergate, Woodrow Wyatt, a former MP in the UK, said "don't think a Watergate couldn't happen here, you just wouldn't hear about it." (ibid) Critics respond that if a presidential system's legislature is controlled by the president's party, the same situation exists. Proponents note that even in such a situation a legislator from the president's party is in a better position to criticize the president or his policies should he deem it necessary, since the immediate security of the president's position is less dependent on legislative support. In parliamentary systems, party discipline is much more strictly enforced. If a parliamentary backbencher publicly criticizes the executive or its policies to any significant extent then he/she faces a much higher prospect of losing his/her party's nomination, or even outright expulsion from the party. Despite the existence of the no confidence vote, in practice, it is extremely difficult to stop a prime minister or cabinet that has made its decision. In a parliamentary system, if important legislation proposed by the incumbent prime minister and his cabinet is "voted down" by a majority of the members of parliament then it is considered to be a vote of no confidence. The incumbent government must then either resign or call elections to be held, a consequence few backbenchers are willing to endure. Hence, a no confidence vote in some parliamentary countries, like Britain, only occurs a few times in a century. In 1931, David Lloyd George told a select committee: "Parliament has really no control over the executive; it is a pure fiction." (Schlesinger 1982) By contrast, if a presidential legislative initiative fails to pass a legislature controlled by the president's party (e.g. the Clinton health care plan of 1993), it may damage the president's political standing and that of his party, but generally has no immediate effect on whether or not the president completes his term. Some supporters of presidential systems claim that presidential systems can respond more rapidly to emerging situations than parliamentary ones. A prime minister, when taking action, needs to retain the support of the legislature, but a president is often less constrained. In Why England Slept, John F. Kennedy said that Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain were constrained by the need to maintain the confidence of the Commons. Other supporters of presidential systems sometimes argue in the exact opposite direction, however, saying that presidential systems can slow decision-making to beneficial ends. Divided government, where the presidency and the legislature are controlled by different parties, is said to restrain the excesses of both parties, and guarantee bipartisan input into legislation. In the United States, Republican Congressman Bill Frenzel wrote in 1995: Although most parliamentary governments go long periods of time without a no confidence vote, Italy, Israel, and the French Fourth Republic have all experienced difficulties maintaining stability. When parliamentary systems have multiple parties and governments are forced to rely on coalitions, as they often do in nations that use a system of proportional representation, extremist parties can theoretically use the threat of leaving a coalition to further their agendas. Many people consider presidential systems to be more able to survive emergencies. A country under enormous stress may, supporters argue, be better off being led by a president with a fixed term than rotating premierships. France during the Algerian controversy switched to a semi-presidential system as did Sri Lanka during its civil war, while Israel experimented with a directly elected prime minister in 1992. In France and Sri Lanka, the results are widely considered to have been positive. However, in the case of Israel, an unprecedented proliferation of smaller parties occurred, leading to the restoration of the previous system of selecting a prime minister. The fact that elections are fixed in a presidential system is considered to be a welcome "check" on the powers of the executive, contrasting parliamentary systems, which often allow the prime minister to call elections whenever they see fit, or orchestrate their own vote of no confidence to trigger an election when they cannot get a legislative item passed. The presidential model is said to discourage this sort of opportunism, and instead force the executive to operate within the confines of a term they cannot alter to suit their own needs. Theoretically, if a president's positions and actions have had a positive impact on their respective country, then it is likely that their party's candidate (possibly them) will be elected for another term in office. Proponents of the presidential system also argue that stability extends to the cabinets chosen under the system, compared to a parliamentary system where cabinets must be drawn from within the legislative branch. Under the presidential system, cabinet members can be selected from a much larger pool of potential candidates. This allows presidents the ability to select cabinet members based as much or more on their ability and competency to lead a particular department as on their loyalty to the president, as opposed to parliamentary cabinets which might be filled by legislators chosen for no better reason than their perceived loyalty to the prime minister. Supporters of the presidential system note that parliamentary systems frequenty go through disruptive "cabinet shuffles" where legislators are moved between portfolios, whereas in presidential system cabinets (such as the United States Cabinet), cabinet shuffles are unheard. Critics generally claim three basic disadvantages for presidential systems: Winning the presidency is a winner-take-all, zero-sum prize. A prime minister who does not enjoy a majority in the legislature will have to either form a coalition or, if he is able to lead a minority government, govern in a manner acceptable to at least some of the opposition parties. Even if the prime minister leads a majority government, he must still govern within (perhaps unwritten) constraints as determined by the members of his party—a premier in this situation is often at greater risk of losing his party leadership than his party is at risk of losing the next election. On the other hand, once elected a president can not only marginalize the influence of other parties, but can exclude rival factions in his own party as well, or even leave the party whose ticket he was elected under. The president can thus rule without any allies for the duration of one or possibly multiple terms, a worrisome situation for many interest groups. Juan Linz argues that: The danger that zero-sum presidential elections pose is compounded by the rigidity of the president's fixed term in office. Winners and losers are sharply defined for the entire period of the presidential mandate... losers must wait four or five years without any access to executive power and patronage. The zero-sum game in presidential regimes raises the stakes of presidential elections and inevitably exacerbates their attendant tension and polarization. Constitutions that only require plurality support are said][ to be especially undesirable, as significant power can be vested in a person who does not enjoy support from a majority of the population. Some][ political scientists say that presidentialism is not constitutionally stable. Some political scientists][ go further, and argue that presidential systems have difficulty sustaining democratic practices, noting that presidentialism has slipped into authoritarianism in many of the countries in which it has been implemented. According to political scientist Fred Riggs, presidentialism has fallen into authoritarianism in nearly every country it has been attempted. Seymour Martin Lipset pointed out that this has taken place in political cultures not conducive to democracy, and that militaries have tended to play a prominent role in most of these countries. Nevertheless, certain aspects of the presidential system may have played a role in some situations. On the other hand, an often-cited][ list of the world's 22 older democracies includes only two countries (Costa Rica and the United States) with presidential systems. It is noteworthy that the youngest democracy (established under US influence) Afghanistan, is presidential, and many][ predict its quick failure after American pull-out. In a presidential system, the legislature and the president have equally valid mandates from the public. There is often no way to reconcile conflict between the branches of government. When president and legislature are in disagreement and government is not working effectively, there is a powerful incentive to employ extra-constitutional maneuvres to break the deadlock. Of the three branches of government, the executive is usually in the best position to employ extra-constitutional maneuvering, especially when the president is both head of state and head of government and is also commander in chief of the military. By contrast, in a parliamentary system where the head of state is usually ceremonial but nevertheless occupied either by a constitutional monarch or (in the case of a parliamentary republic) by an experienced and highly respected figure, given some extreme political situation there is often a very good chance that even a nominally ceremonial head of state will be able to successfully restrain a head of government acting in an extra-constitutional manner - this is only possible because the head of state and the head of government are not the same person. Ecuador is sometimes presented][ as a case study of democratic failures over the past quarter-century. Presidents have ignored the legislature or bypassed it altogether. One president had the National Assembly teargassed, while another was kidnapped by paratroopers until he agreed to certain congressional demands. From 1979 through 1988, Ecuador staggered through a succession of executive-legislative confrontations that created a near permanent crisis atmosphere in the policy. In 1984, President León Febres Cordero tried to physically bar new Congressionally appointed supreme court appointees from taking their seats. In Brazil, presidents have accomplished their objectives by creating executive agencies over which Congress had no say. Dana D. Nelson in her 2008 book Bad for Democracy sees the office of the president of the United States as essentially undemocratic and characterizes presidentialism as worship of the president by citizens which she believes tends to undermine civic participation. Some political scientists speak of the "failure of presidentialism" because the separation of powers of a presidential system frequently creates undesirable and long-term political gridlock and political instability whenever the president and the legislative majority are from different parties. This is common because the electorate usually expects more rapid results from new policies than are possible and often prefers candidates from a different party at the next election. These critics, including Juan Linz, argue that this inherent political instability can cause democracies to fail, as seen in such cases as Brazil and Chile.][ In addition, presidential systems are said by critics][ not to offer voters the kind of accountability seen in parliamentary systems. It is easy for either the president or the legislature to escape blame by shifting it to the other. Describing the United States, former Treasury Secretary C. Douglas Dillon said "the president blames Congress, the Congress blames the president, and the public remains confused and disgusted with government in Washington". In Congressional Government, Woodrow Wilson asked, is the schoolmaster, the nation, to know which boy needs the whipping? ... Power and strict accountability for its use are the essential constituents of good government. ... It is, therefore, manifestly a radical defect in our federal system that it parcels out power and confuses responsibility as it does. The main purpose of the Convention of 1787 seems to have been to accomplish this grievous mistake. The 'literary theory' of checks and balances is simply a consistent account of what our constitution makers tried to do; and those checks and balances have proved mischievous just to the extent which they have succeeded in establishing themselves ... [the Framers] would be the first to admit that the only fruit of dividing power had been to make it irresponsible. Consider the example of the increase in the federal debt of the United States that occurred during the presidency of Republican Ronald Reagan. Arguably, the deficits were the product of a bargain between President Reagan and the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O'Neill - O'Neill agreed not to oppose tax cuts favored by Reagan, and in exchange Reagan agreed to sign budgets that failed to adequately restrain spending. In such a scenario, each side can claim to be displeased with the debt, plausibly blame the other side for the deficit, and still tout its own success. Another alleged problem of presidentialism is that it is often difficult to remove a president from office early. Even if a president is "proved to be inefficient, even if he becomes unpopular, even if his policy is unacceptable to the majority of his countrymen, he and his methods must be endured until the moment comes for a new election." (Balfour, intro to the English Constitution). Consider John Tyler, who only became president because William Henry Harrison had died after thirty days. Tyler blocked the Whig agenda, was loathed by his nominal party, but remained firmly in control of the executive branch. Since most presidential systems provide no legal means to remove a president simply for being unpopular, many presidential countries have experienced military coups to remove a leader who is said to have lost his mandate. In parliamentary systems, unpopular leaders can be quickly removed by a vote of no confidence, a procedure which is reckoned to be a "pressure release valve" for political tension. Votes of no confidence are easier to achieve in minority government situations, but even if the unpopular leader heads a majority government, nonetheless he is often in a far less secure position than a president. Removing a president through impeachment is a procedure mandated by most constitutions, but impeachment proceedings usually cannot be initiated except in cases where the president has violated the constitution and/or broken the law. Impeachment is usually made into a very difficult process, by comparison the process of removing a party leader is governed by the (often much less formal) rules of the party in question. Nearly all parties (including governing parties) have a relatively simple and straightforward process for removing their leaders. If a premier sustains a serious enough blow to his/her popularity and refuses to resign on his/her own prior to the next election, then members of his/her party face the prospect of losing their seats. So other prominent party members have a very strong incentive to initiate a leadership challenge in hopes of mitigating damage to the party. More often than not, a premier facing a serious challenge will resolve to save face by resigning before he/she is formally removed—Margaret Thatcher's relinquishing of her premiership being a prominent, recent example. In The English Constitution, Walter Bagehot criticized presidentialism because it does not allow a transfer in power in the event of an emergency. Opponents][ of the presidential system note that years later, Bagehot's observation came to life during World War II, when Neville Chamberlain was replaced with Winston Churchill. However, supporters of the presidential system question the validity of the point. They counter that republics such as the United States successfully endured this and other crises without the need to change heads of state. Supporters argue that presidents elected in a time of peace and prosperity have proven themselves perfectly capable of responding effectively to a serious crisis, largely due to their ability to make the necessary appointments to his cabinet and elsewhere in government, and/or by creating new positions to deal with new challenges. One prominent, recent example would be the appointment of a Secretary of Homeland Security following the September 11 attacks in the United States. Some supporters of the presidential system counter that impediments to a leadership change is a strength as opposed to a weakness in times of crisis. In such times, a prime minister might hesitate due to the need to maintain the support of parliament, whereas a president can act without fear of being removed from office by those who might disapprove of his actions. Unlike what would be possible in a presidential system, a perceived crisis in the parliamentary system might provide disgruntled backbenchers or leadership rivals an opportunity to launch a vexatious challenge for a prime minister's leadership. As noted above, in such a situation a prime minister will often resign if they have so much as a moderate doubt as to their ability to fend off such a challenge, and in such a circumstance there is no guarantee that the sudden accession of an unproven prime minister during such a crisis will be a change for the better - the ouster of Thatcher is cited as one such example by those who argue her successor John Major proved less able to defend British interests in the ensuing Gulf War than Thatcher would have. Finally, many][ have criticized presidential systems for their alleged slowness in responding to their citizens' needs. Often, the checks and balances make action extremely difficult. Walter Bagehot said of the American system "the executive is crippled by not getting the law it needs, and the legislature is spoiled by having to act without responsibility: the executive becomes unfit for its name, since it cannot execute what it decides on; the legislature is demoralized by liberty, by taking decisions of others [and not itself] will suffer the effects". (ibid.) Defenders of Presidential systems, on the other hand, hold that this can serve to ensure that minority wishes and rights are not trampled upon, thus preventing a "Tyranny of the majority" and vice versa protect the wishes and rights of the majority from abuse by legislature and/or executive that holds a contrary view point, especially when there are frequent, scheduled elections. British-Irish philosopher and MP Edmund Burke stated that officials should be elected based on "his [or her] unbiased opinion, his [or her] mature judgment, [and] his [or her] enlightened conscience", and therefore should reflect on the arguments for and against certain policies before taking positions and then act out on what an official would believe to be best in the long run for one's constituents and country as a whole even if it means short term backlash. Thus Defenders of Presidential systems hold that sometimes what is wisest may not always be the most popular decision and vice versa. A number of key theoretical differences exist between a presidential and a cabinet system: Presidential systems also have fewer ideological parties than parliamentary systems. Sometimes in the United States, the policies preferred by the two parties have been very similar (but see also polarization). In the 1950s, during the leadership of Lyndon Johnson, the Senate Democrats included the right-most members of the chamber—Harry Byrd and Strom Thurmond, and the left-most members—Paul Douglas and Herbert Lehman. This pattern does not prevail in Latin American presidential democracies. In practice, elements of both systems overlap. Though a president in a presidential system does not have to choose a government answerable to the legislature, the legislature may have the right to scrutinize his or her appointments to high governmental office, with the right, on some occasions, to block an appointment. In the United States, many appointments must be confirmed by the Senate, although once confirmed an appointee can only be removed against the President's will through impeachment. By contrast, though answerable to parliament, a parliamentary system's cabinet may be able to make use of the parliamentary 'whip' (an obligation on party members in parliament to vote with their party) to control and dominate parliament, reducing parliament's ability to control the government. Some countries, such as France have similarly evolved to such a degree that they can no longer be accurately described as either presidential or parliamentary-style governments, and are instead grouped under the category of semi-presidential system.
A multi-party system is a system in which multiple political parties have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coalition. An example of such a coalition is the one between the Christian-Democratic Union of Germany and Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CDU/CSU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) set up after the 2009 federal elections. The effective number of parties in a multi-party system is normally larger than two but lower than ten. In the vast majority of multi-party systems, numerous major and minor political parties hold a serious chance of receiving office, and because they all compete, a majority may not control the legislature, forcing the creation of a coalition. In some countries, every government ever formed since its independence has been by means of a coalition. Multi-party systems tend to be more common in parliamentary systems than presidential systems, and far more common in countries that use proportional representation compared to countries that use first past the post elections. Lebanon, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Syria Taiwan and Philippines (source:Politics of the Philippines) are examples of nations that have used a multi-party system effectively in their democracies. In these countries, usually no single party has a parliamentary majority by itself. Instead, multiple political parties form coalitions for the purpose of developing power blocks for governing. In some multi-party systems, only two or three parties have a substantial chance of forming a government with or without forming a coalition. An example of this is the United Kingdom, where only the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, and the Liberal Democrats have a serious chance to win enough seats to be a part of the government; the Liberal Democrats have never had enough seats to form a Government, but have held enough seats to contribute to a Coalition. To date, the Liberal Democrats have been in power only once in a coalition, which is the incumbent Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition. This is also the case in Canada, where majority governments are very common. A system where only two parties have the possibility of winning an election is called two-party system. A system where only three parties have a realistic possibility of winning an election or forming a coalition is sometimes called a "Third-party system". But, in some cases the system is called a "Stalled Third-Party System," when there are three parties and all three parties win a large number of votes, but only two have a chance of winning a general election. Usually this is because the electoral system penalises the third party, e.g. as in UK politics. In the 2010 elections, the Liberal Democrats gained 23% of the total vote but won less than 10% of the seats due to the First-Past-The-Post electoral system. Despite this, they still had enough seats (and enough public support) for the other major two parties to form coalitions with them, or to make deals in order to gain their support. An example is the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition formed after the 2010 general election. Another is the Lib-Lab pact during Prime Minister James Callaghan's Minority Labour Government; when Labour lost its three-seat majority in 1977, the pact fell short of a full coalition. Unlike a single-party system (or a two-party system), a multi-party system encourages the general constituency to form multiple distinct, officially recognized groups, generally called political parties. Each party competes for votes from the enfranchised constituents (those allowed to vote). A multi-party system prevents the leadership of a single party from controlling a single legislative chamber without challenge. If the government includes an elected Congress or Parliament, the parties may share power according to proportional representation or the first-past-the-post system. In proportional representation, each party wins a number of seats proportional to the number of votes it receives. In first-past-the-post, the electorate is divided into a number of districts, each of which selects one person to fill one seat by a plurality of the vote. First-past-the-post is not conducive to a proliferation of parties, and naturally gravitates toward a two-party system, in which only two parties have a real chance of electing their candidates to office. This gravitation is known as Duverger's law. Proportional representation, on the other hand, does not have this tendency, and allows multiple major parties to arise. But, recent coalition governments, such as that in the U.K., represent two-party systems rather than multi-party systems. This is regardless of the number of parties in government. A two-party system requires voters to align themselves in large blocs, sometimes so large that they cannot agree on any overarching principles. Some theories argue that this allows centrists to gain control. On the other hand, if there are multiple major parties, each with less than a majority of the vote, the parties are strongly motivated to work together to form working governments. This also promotes centrism, as well as promoting coalition-building skills while discouraging polarization.
Policy analysis is "determining which of various alternative policies will most achieve a given set of goals in light of the relations between the policies and the goals". However, policy analysis can be divided into two major fields. Analysis of policy is analytical and descriptive—i.e., it attempts to explain policies and their development. Analysis for policy is prescriptive—i.e., it is involved with formulating policies and proposals (e.g., to improve social welfare). The area of interest and the purpose of analysis determines what type of analysis is conducted. A combination of policy analysis together with program evaluation would be defined as Policy studies. Policy Analysis is frequently deployed in the public sector, but is equally applicable to other kinds of organizations. Policy analysis has its roots in systems analysis as instituted by United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara during the Vietnam War. Although various approaches to policy analysis exist, three general approaches can be distinguished: the analycentric, the policy process, and the meta-policy approach. The analycentric approach focuses on individual problems and their solutions; its scope is the micro-scale and its problem interpretation is usually of a technical nature. The primary aim is to identify the most effective and efficient solution in technical and economic terms (e.g. the most efficient allocation of resources). The policy process approach puts its focal point onto political processes and involved stakeholders; its scope is the meso-scale and its problem interpretation is usually of a political nature. It aims at determining what processes and means are used and tries to explain the role and influence of stakeholders within the policy process. By changing the relative power and influence of certain groups (e.g., enhancing public participation and consultation), solutions to problems may be identified. The meta-policy approach is a systems and context approach; i.e., its scope is the macro-scale and its problem interpretation is usually of a structural nature. It aims at explaining the contextual factors of the policy process; i.e., what are the political, economic and socio-cultural factors influencing it. As problems may result because of structural factors (e.g., a certain economic system or political institution), solutions may entail changing the structure itself. Policy analysis is methodologically diverse using both qualitative methods and quantitative methods, including case studies, survey research, statistical analysis, and model building among others. One common methodology is to define the problem and evaluation criteria; identify all alternatives; evaluate them; and recommend the best policy agenda per favor. Many models exist to analyze the creation and application of public policy. Analysts use these models to identify important aspects of policy, as well as explain and predict policy and its consequences. Some models are: Public policy is determined by political institutions, which give policy legitimacy. Government universally applies policy to all citizens of society and monopolizes the use of force in applying policy. The legislature, executive and judicial branches of government are examples of institutions that give policy legitimacy. Policy creation is a process following these steps: This model, however, has been criticized for being overly linear and simplistic. In reality, stages of the policy process may overlap or never happen. Also, this model fails to take into account the multiple factors attempting to influence the process itself as well as each other, and the complexity this entails. See Rational planning model for a fuller discussion The rational model of decision-making is a process for making logically sound decisions in policy making in the public sector, although the model is also widely used in private corporations. Herbert A. Simon, the father of rational models, describes rationality as “a style of behavior that is appropriate to the achievement of given goals, within the limits imposed by given conditions and constraints”. It is important to note the model makes a series of assumptions in order for it to work, such as: Indeed, some of the assumptions identified above are also pin pointed out in a study written by the historian H.A. Drake, as he states: In its purest form, the Rational Actor approach presumes that such a figure [as Constantine] has complete freedom of action to achieve goals that he or she has articulated through a careful process of rational analysis involving full and objective study of all pertinent information and alternatives. At the same time, it presumes that this central actor is so fully in control of the apparatus of government that a decision once made is as good as implemented. There are no staffs on which to rely, no constituencies to placate, no generals or governors to cajole. By attributing all decision making to one central figure who is always fully in control and who acts only after carefully weighing all options, the Rational Actor method allows scholars to filter out extraneous details and focus attention on central issues. Furthermore, as we have seen, in the context of policy rational models are intended to achieve maximum social gain. For this purpose, Simon identifies an outline of a step by step mode of analysis to achieve rational decisions. Ian Thomas describes Simon's steps as follows: In similar lines, Wiktorowicz and Deber describe through their study on ‘Regulating biotechnology: a rational-political model of policy development’ the rational approach to policy development. The main steps involved in making a rational decision for these authors are the following: The approach of Wiktorowicz and Deber is similar to Simon and they assert that the rational model tends to deal with “the facts” (data, probabilities) in steps 1 to 3, leaving the issue of assessing values to the final step. According Wiktorowicz and Deber values are introduced in the final step of the rational model, where the utility of each policy option is assessed. Many authors have attempted to interpret the above mentioned steps, amongst others, Patton and Sawicki who summarize the model as presented in the following figure (missing): The model of rational decision-making has also proven to be very useful to several decision making processes in industries outside the public sphere. Nonetheless, many criticism of the model arise due to claim of the model being impractical and lying on unrealistic assumptions. For instance, it is a difficult model to apply in the public sector because social problems can be very complex, ill-defined and interdependent. The problem lies in the thinking procedure implied by the model which is linear and can face difficulties in extra ordinary problems or social problems which have no sequences of happenings. This latter argument can be best illustrated by the words of Thomas R. Dye, the president of the Lincoln Center for Public Service, who wrote in his book `Understanding Public Policy´ the following passage: There is no better illustration of the dilemmas of rational policy making in America than in the field of health…the first obstacle to rationalism is defining the problem. Is our goal to have good health — that is, whether we live at all (infant mortality), how well we live (days lost to sickness), and how long we live (life spans and adult mortality)? Or is our goal to have good medical care — frequent visits to the doctor, wellequipped and accessible hospitals, and equal access to medical care by rich and poor alike? The problems faced when using the rational model arise in practice because social and environmental values can be difficult to quantify and forge consensus around. Furthermore, the assumptions stated by Simon are never fully valid in a real world context. However, as Thomas states the rational model provides a good perspective since in modern society rationality plays a central role and everything that is rational tends to be prized. Thus, it does not seem strange that “we ought to be trying for rational decision-making”. As illustrated in Figure 1, rational policy analysis can be broken into 6 distinct stages of analysis. Step 2 highlights the need to understand which factors should be considered as part of the decision making process. At this part of the process, all the economic, social, and environmental factors that are important to the policy decision need to be identified and then expressed as policy decision criteria. For example, the decision criteria used in the analysis of environmental policy is often a mix of — Some criteria, such as economic benefit, will be more easily measurable or definable, while others such as environmental quality will be harder to measure or express quantitatively. Ultimately though, the set of decision criteria needs to embody all of the policy goals, and overemphasising the more easily definable or measurable criteria, will have the undesirable impact of biasing the analysis towards a subset of the policy goals. The process of identifying a suitably comprehensive decision criteria set is also vulnerable to being skewed by pressures arising at the political interface. For example, decision makers may tend to give "more weight to policy impacts that are concentrated, tangible, certain, and immediate than to impacts that are diffuse, intangible, uncertain, and delayed."^8. For example, with a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions the net financial cost in the first five years of policy implementation is a far easier impact to conceptualise than the more diffuse and uncertain impact of a country's improved position to influence global negotiations on climate change action. Displaying the impacts of policy alternatives can be done using a policy analysis matrix (PAM) such that shown in Table 1. As shown, a PAM provides a summary of the policy impacts for the various alternatives and examination of the matrix can reveal the tradeoffs associated with the different alternatives. Table 1. Policy analysis matrix (PAM) for SO2 emissions control. Once policy alternatives have been evaluated, the next step is to decide which policy alternative should be implemented. This is shown as step 5 in Figure 1. At one extreme, comparing the policy alternatives can be relatively simple if all the policy goals can be measured using a single metric and given equal weighting. In this case, the decision method is an exercise in benefit cost analysis (BCA). At the other extreme, the numerous goals will require the policy impacts to be expressed using a variety of metrics that are not readily comparable. In such cases, the policy analyst may draw on the concept of utility to aggregate the various goals into a single score. With the utility concept, each impact is given a weighting such that 1 unit of each weighted impact is considered to be equally valuable (or desirable) with regards to the collective well-being. Weimer and Vining also suggest that the "go, no go" rule can be a useful method for deciding amongst policy alternatives^8. Under this decision making regime, some or all policy impacts can be assigned thresholds which are used to eliminate at least some of the policy alternatives. In their example, one criterion "is to minimize SO2 emissions" and so a threshold might be a reduction SO2 emissions "of at least 8.0 million tons per year". As such, any policy alternative that does not meet this threshold can be removed from consideration. If only a single policy alternative satisfies all the impact thresholds then it is the one that is considered a "go" for each impact. Otherwise it might be that all but a few policy alternatives are eliminated and those that remain need to be more closely examined in terms of their trade-offs so that a decision can be made. To demonstrate the rational analysis process as described above, let’s examine the policy paper “Stimulating the use of biofuels in the European Union: Implications for climate change policy” by Lisa Ryan where the substitution of fossil fuels with biofuels has been proposed in the European Union (EU) between 2005–2010 as part of a strategy to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from road transport, increase security of energy supply and support development of rural communities. Considering the steps of Patton and Sawicki model as in Figure 1 above, this paper only follows components 1 to 5 of the rationalist policy analysis model: The political system's role is to establish and enforce compromise between various, conflicting interests in society. Policy is a reflection of the interests of those individuals within a society that have the most power, rather than the demands of the mass. See policy cycle for a five-step and an eight-step approach.
Representative democracy (also indirect democracy) is a variety of democracy founded on the principle of elected officials representing a group of people, as opposed to direct democracy. All modern Western style democracies are various types of representative democracies, for example the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and Poland is a parliamentary republic. It is an element of both the parliamentary system or presidential system of government and is typically used in a lower chamber such as the House of Commons (UK) or Bundestag (Germany), and is generally curtailed by constitutional constraints such as an upper chamber. It has been described by some political theorists as Polyarchy.][ Representatives generally do not hold the power to select other representatives, presidents, or other officers of government (indirect representation).][ The power of representatives is usually curtailed by a constitution (as in a constitutional democracy or a constitutional monarchy) or other measures to balance representative power:][ Theorists such as Edmund Burke believe that part of the duty of a representative was not simply to communicate the wishes of the electorate but also to use their own judgement in the exercise of their powers, even if their views are not reflective of those of a majority of voters: ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion. The related term republic may have many different meanings. It normally means a state with an elected or otherwise non-monarchical head of state, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran or Republic of Korea. Sometimes in the US it is used similarly to liberal (representative) democracy.][ John M. Scheb says that the US system of government is more complex than a representative democracy; rather, it is a constitutional republic where "majority rule is tempered".][ The Roman Republic was the first government in the western world to have a representative government, although it had a form of a direct government in the Roman assemblies. The Roman model of governance inspired many political thinkers over the centuries, and today's modern representative democracies imitate more the Roman than the Greek models because it was a state in which supreme power was held by the people and their elected representatives, and which had an elected or nominated a leader. Representative democracy is a form of democracy in which people vote for representatives who then vote on policy initiatives as opposed to a direct democracy, a form of democracy in which people vote on policy initiatives directly. A European medieval traditions of selecting representatives from the various estates (classes, but not as we know them today) to advise/control monarchs led to relatively wide familiarity with representative systems inspired by Roman systems.][ Representative democracy came into particular general favour in post-industrial revolution nation states where large numbers of subjects or (latterly) citizens evinced interest in politics, but where technology and population figures remained unsuited to direct democracy. As noted above, Edmund Burke in his speech to the electors of Bristol classically analysed their operation in Britain and the rights and duties of an elected representative. Globally, a majority of the world's people live in representative democracies including constitutional monarchy with strong representative branch, ][ In his book Political Parties, written in 1911, Robert Michels argues that most representative systems deteriorate towards an oligarchy or particracy. This is known as the "Iron Law of Oligarchy". Representative democracies which are stable have been analysed by Adolf Gasser and compared to the unstable representative democracies in his book "Gemeindefreiheit als Rettung Europas" which was published in 1943 (first edition in German) and a second edition in 1947 (in German). Adolf Gasser stated the following requirements for a representative democracy in order to remain stable, unaffected by the "Iron Law of Oligarchy": The system of stochocracy has been proposed as an improved system compared to the system of representative democracy, where representatives are elected. Stochocracy aims to be at least reduce this degradation by having all representatives appointed by lottery instead of by voting. Therefore this system is also called lottocracy. The system was proposed by the writer Roger de Sizif in 1998 in his book La Stochocratie.
This is a list of political topics, including political science terms, political philosophies, political issues, etc. Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions. Although the term is generally applied to behavior within civil governments, politics is observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. Politics consists of "social relations involving authority or power" and refers to the regulation of a political unit, and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy. Political science (also political studies) is the study of political behavior and examines the acquisition and application of power. Related areas of study include political philosophy, which seeks a rationale for politics and an ethic of public behavior, and public administration, which examines the practices of governance. Political topics include: 100,000,000 - 10 Agorot controversy - 1965 Yerevan demonstrations - 1984 network liberty alliance - 2006 Franco–Italian–Spanish Middle East Peace Plan - 2006 Georgian-Russian espionage controversy - 2006 Norwegian Jostein Gaarder controversy - 2006 United States immigration reform protests - 2007 Georgia helicopter attack incident - 2007 Georgia missile incident - 2007 Georgia plane downing incident - A Man's A Man for A' That - A Quaker Action Group - A Scientific Support for Darwinism - Abalone Alliance - Ableism - Abortion - Absentee ballot - Absolute majority - Absolute monarch - Absolute monarchy - Absolutism - Abstention - Academia - Acceptance - Acclamation - Active measures - Activism - Activism at Ohio Wesleyan University - Activism industry - Administrative Centre - Administrative resource - Adolf Hitler - Advocacy - Affair - Affinity group - Affirmative action - Affirmative action bake sale - African Plate - African socialism - Agrarianism - Agricultural policy - Alan Placa - Alexandre de Lameth - Alice's Meadow - Alliance for a New Humanity - Alois Buttinger - Alta controversy - Alternative Views - Amalgamation (history) - Amalgamation (politics) - American Political Science Association - American Political Science Review - Americas - Americentric - Amoral - An Act of Conscience - An equal amount of products for an equal amount of labor - Anarchism - Anarchism in China - Anarchist communism - Anarcho-capitalism - Anarcho-syndicalism - Anatopia - Ancien Régime - Ancien régime - Ancient Greece - Animal rights - Animal testing - Annexation - Anthropology - Anti-Capitalist Convergence - Anti-Communism - Anti-nuclear movement - Anti-nuclear movement in Australia - Anti-nuclear movement in Germany - Anti-nuclear movement in the United States - Anti-Poverty Committee - Anti-Revisionist - Anti-Stalinist left - Anti-authoritarian - Anti-capitalism - Anti-clericalism - Anti-communism - Anti-cult movement - Anti-environmentalism - Anti-incumbency - Anti-nationalism - Anti-work - Antidisestablishmentarianism - Antimilitarism - Antinaturalism (politics) - Antoine Barnave - Apolitical - Aptitude - Arab socialism - Arbetarnas bildningsförbund - Arbeter Ring (Workmen's Circle) - Arctic Refuge drilling controversy - Arendt, Hannah - Aristocracy - Aristotelianism - Aristotle - Arizona State University - Arm's length principle - Arms Length Management Organisation - Arrow Cross Party - Arthashastra - Artists United Against Apartheid - Artivist - Asian values - Assembly of the Poor - Asset-based egalitarianism - Atrocity story - Attack poodle - Attendance allowance (political) - Audre Lorde Project - Augustine of Hippo - Augustus - Ausserparlamentarische Opposition - Australasia - Australia - Austria - Autarchism - Authoritarian - Authoritarianism - Authority - Autism Awareness Campaign UK - Autism Society of America - Autism Speaks - Autonomous area - Average worker's wage - Averroes - Aviation ministry - Avicenna - Axis of Justice BCE - Babels - Babeuf - 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Public policy is the principled guide to action taken by the administrative executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs. In general, the foundation is the pertinent national and substantial constitutional law and implementing legislation such as the US Federal code. Further substrates include both judicial interpretations and regulations which are generally authorized by legislation.

Other scholars define it as a system of "courses of action, regulatory measures, laws, and funding priorities concerning a given topic promulgated by a governmental entity or its representatives." Public policy is commonly embodied "in constitutions, legislative acts, and judicial decisions."

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The United States is a federal constitutional republic, in which the President of the United States (the head of state and head of government), Congress, and judiciary share powers reserved to the national government, and the federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.

This is a list of political topics, including political science terms, political philosophies, political issues, etc.

Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions. Although the term is generally applied to behavior within civil governments, politics is observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. Politics consists of "social relations involving authority or power" and refers to the regulation of a political unit, and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy. Political science (also political studies) is the study of political behavior and examines the acquisition and application of power. Related areas of study include political philosophy, which seeks a rationale for politics and an ethic of public behavior, and public administration, which examines the practices of governance.

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