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101 Cards in this Set

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reducing government spending, usually in a attempt to pay off debts. Spending cuts are often those of social welfare or education programs and many times are a requirement of countries received IMF or World Bank assistance.


a system of governing that is based on coercion, rather than on genuine legitimacy. (Note: an authoritarian system may or may not also be totalitarian.)

Bicameral legislature

a legislative body with two distinct houses or chambers


an impersonal and hierarchically-structured organization that is charged with carrying out the policies and programs of a government


the head of government’s closest advisors. In a parliamentary system, cabinet members head up administrative bureaucracies (called ministries) and are responsible to parliament. In a presidential system, the cabinet is responsible to the president.


an economic system that emphasizes private ownership and a market-based economy

Catch all party

a political party that attempts to gain the support of a wide base, rather than being strongly ideological.


a correlation inwhich one variable results in the change in others

Charismatic authority

as per Max Weber, it is authority "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism, or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him"

Civil liberties

basic rights offreedom that must be protected *from* the state; the most common examples arefreedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press

Civil rights

basic rights of acitizen that must be protected *by* the state; the most common examples are theright to vote, the right to obtain a fair trial with adequate legal assistance

Civil service

a branch of government in which individuals are employed on the basis of merit, usually through competitive examinations, rather than on the basis of connections or political considerations

Civil society

all organizations outside of government that provide avenues of political participation insociety


distinct socio-economic-political divisions within a society; can include race,religion, ethnicity, geography, income, historic, cultural, etc.


also known as“Marxism”, after its father, Karl Marx. A political and economic system in which most or all economic decisionmaking is undertaken by a central government and not market forces


a form of government in which the various regions have their own governments and are largely sovereign over their own affairs. The central government has little or no power.


suggests a social orpolitical ideology that supports change in a very gradual fashion and thatlargely supports the traditional sources of authority


a supreme law thatprovide the structure of a nation-state’s regime and the legal processes thatgovernment must follow


a system of government in which the government is dominated by representatives of groups within that society. To a certain degree (depending on how democratic the system is) there is usually some level of official limitation on groups that can be represented.


an apparent association between two variables; a link (though not necessarily a cause-effect relationship)


dishonest or fraudulent conduct for personal gain by those in positions of power

Code law

law based on a comprehensive system of written laws, divided into criminal, civil, and commercialcodes; Russia, China, and Mexico are examples

Command economy

see communism. Government controls all economic decisions

Common law

law based on tradition, past practices, and legal precedents setby the courts through interpretations of statutes, legal legislation, and pastrulings; practiced in Great Britain


the process of redistributing or dispersing functions, powers, people or things away from a central location or authority


the process of democratic government to more parts of the world and/or the process of making current democratic regimes more democratic

Democratic deficit

when supposedly democratic institutions or governments in reality fall short of their democratic principles


usually refers to economic, industrial, and/or political development (democratization) in traditionally poorer countries


the transfer of all responsibility for decision-making, finance, and certain public functions to the sub-national level (city, state, regional, local)

Distributional Politics

the use of power by the state to allocate resources among competing groups in society

Economic liberalization

policies designed to limit government involvement or control over economic activity; implies few trade restrictions and little government regulation of the economy

Electoral system

a legal system for voting and choosing leaders in a democracy

Elite recruitment

the ways and means that people are selected for future political leadership

Empirical statements

agreed upon facts that have been gathered through experimentation and unbiased collection of data


from the head of government to the lowest bureaucrat, this is the branch of government responsible for executing (carrying out) the laws of a state

Federal state

a regime in which the political authority is shared between the central and local governments


the reactions ofpeople, organizations, and others to political decisions that shape future policymaking

Fiscal policy

government decisions about total public spending and revenue

First past the Post

a system in which the leading vote-getter (even if by a mere plurality and not by a majority) becomes the sole representative of a voting district

Fusion of power

a government system in which the authority of the government is concentrated in a singlebody

GDP per capita

the value of the goods and services produced within a country, divided by the number of inhabitants.

Gini Index

a statistical calculation that attempts to show the level of income equality within a country. Scores rank from 1 – 100, with 30 or lower signifying relative income equality and 50 or higher indicating very high levels of inequality.


the increasing interconnectedness and interdependence of people, cultures, economies, and states. Usually facilitated by trade,technology, and mobility of populations.

Head of government

the top government official who oversees the effective functioning of a state’s government. Usually the president or prime minister.

Head of state

the chief public face of a state. Sometimes, this person is a mere figurehead; other times, it is the same person as the HOG.

Identity politics

political activity and ideas based on the shared experience of an ethnic, religious, or social group, emphasizing gaining power and benefits for that group, rather than more universal goals.


a system of ideas and ideals, particularly those that form the basis of economic or political theory or practice.

Illiberal democracy

countries that theoretically have democratic procedures on the books (mostly regular elections), but have severe restrictions on personal freedoms.

Import Substitution model

a government policy that uses tariffs and other trade restrictions to encourage domestic production of some goods.


demands and support by individuals and groups on the policy making process of government.


a vote on policy or law initiated directly by the people.

Interest group aggregation

ways in which demands of citizens and groups are organized and combined into policy proposals backed by significant political resources.

Interest group articulation

involves individuals and groups expressing their political needs and demands.

Interest groups

any organization that seeks to influence government policy making to better serve the self-perceived wants and needs of their members.

Judicial review

the power of the courts to modify or overturn actions of legislatures, executives, or lower courts.

Keynesian Economics

John Maynard Keynes’ theory that governments should spend and expand social welfare during economic downturns, while reducing spending and the money supply during boom periods.


the widespread belief that a regime is a proper one and has the right to exercise authority.


an 18th century-derived term that puts tremendous emphasis on individual freedoms(political, social, economic) and is willing to reject tradition views in terms of steady, non-radical change. (Not to be confused with a political “liberal” (i.e, “left-leaning”) in a particular country.

Liberal Democracy

systems that “include civil liberties, rule of law, neutrality of the judiciary, open civil society,civilian control of the military”.

Market economy

see capitalism. Most economic decisions are left to individuals and to privately-owned businesses.


Dramatic and rapid; a radical politician supports immediate change, including revolution.


A direct vote by the entire voting population on a policy or piece of legislation.


The regular and ongoing pattern for organizing a state’s government. In short, it’s “the way a country’s political system works."

Rentier State

A country that makes a substantial part of its income via oil or other natural resources (referred to as “rent.")

Rule of Law

Constitutionalism; a predictable governance and legal system in which no one is above the law.

Separation of Powers

System of government in which power is divided among separate bodies and each body has the ability to limit the powers of the other bodies.


“Islamic law”, or law derived from the Qu’ran.

Single Member Districts

An electoral system in which a defined electoral district selects one candidate to represent it. If that candidate only needs a plurality of the vote to win, it is also called a “first past the post” system.

Social Democracy

A political philosophy that includes free elections, egalitarian social policies, and creation of a social welfare system.


Independent legal authority over a population in which a state makes and carries out the laws by which its people abide.


It involves the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as the military and the bureaucracy. Can also include other entities that have an impact upon policy and government.

Structural Adjustment

World Bank and International Monetary Fund (and other donor organizations) requirements to developing countries that are receiving assistance. Usually involves privatization, government spending reductions, and trade liberalization.

Substantive Democracy

A democratic system in which a wide variety of groups and individuals in society have genuine and important input in the political debate and into policy formation.

Supranational Organization

An organization that works or operates separately from the sovereignty of individual states and, at times, actually supersedes state sovereignty.


A state dominated and controlled by the clergy.

Transitional Democracy

Countries that have moved (or are seemingly moving from) an authoritarian system to a democratic one.

Two-party System

A political system in which only two parties have a legitimate chance to assume power and win pretty much all of the elected seats.

Unicameral Legislature

In which the legislative branch consists of only one house or body.

Unitary State

When there is a concentration of power in the central government. (Contrasts with a federal state)

Welfare State

a state which provides a wide array of social services such as health care, education, employment opportunities or substitutions for its members.
Quantitative Research
statistical studies which seek correlations and causations between data
Qualitative Research
case studies of historic and culture aspects of political systems
Proportional representation
in which voters vote for a party rather than an individual and the party gets a percentage of legislative seats roughly equal to the percentage of votes it received
Procedural Democracy
where democratic procedures are in place, but have significant restrictions
the process of putting businesses and resources once owned by the government into the hands of private investors and owners. (See economic liberalization or neoliberalism)
Presidential system
where citizens vote for legislative representatives as well as for executive branch leaders and the two branches function with separation of powers
Purchasing Power Parity; a slight take on GDP per capita, in that this stat also factors in the costs of goods within a given country
Political socialization
the formal and informal teaching of political and social norms and values to the population; develops through government policy, media, family, and aspects of the political culture
Political parties
an organized group of people who attempt to elect its members to political office and/or to represent and advocate for political outlooks and ideologies
Political culture
the collection of the history, values, beliefs, assumptions, attitudes, traditions, and symbols that define and influence political behavior in a nation-state
Political efficacy
a citizen’s ability to understand and affect political events. (Can’t also refer to the citizen’s self-perceived ability to do both
the highest percentage of a vote, though short of a majority. Enough to win in a FPTP system
a situation in which power is split among many groups that compete for the chance to influence the government's decision-making
an election in which the voters vote “yes” or “no” on a resolution. Often non-binding and serve to gauge (or manipulate) public opinion
Patron-client system
or clientalism/prebendalism/guanxi; a usually informal alliance between the person holding power and less powerful individuals or groups in society. The politician gets support, while the other folks get jobs, protection, land, or goods. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”
Parliamentary system
in which the head of government is chosen by and serves by the consent of the legislature.
government-owned corporations instituted either because the private sector isn’t capable of providing one, or when a service is considered so important to a population that it can’t be made a profit-bearing activity. (Examples would be the postal service, utility companies, et. al.)
One-party system
a system in which only one political party is allowed to form or contest elections
One-party dominant system
in which one given party has won numerous successive elections and it would be difficult to imagine them losing in the near future
a system of governance dominated by a small group of people in the state
Normative statements
statements that contain overt or underlying considerations of values, preferences, or what should be