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AP Comparative Government General Vocabulary
College board AP terms for Comparative Government
103
Political Studies
03/09/2011

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Term
State
Definition
A self-governing political entity; country. China, Mexico, Iran, the UK, and Nigeria are all examples of states
Term
Government
Definition
The controlling body of a state- unit governing a political entity. China, Mexico, Iran, the UK, and Nigeria all have governments controlling their territory.
Term
Nation
Definition
A sovereign state, or a people, race or tribe with the same origin. The Han ethnic group in China is a nation within the state of China
Term
Nationalism
Definition
Pride in one's country; national pride in a country. Devotion to the interest of one's country. Nationalism in China is high because of the ancient belief that society is more important than any one individual
Term
Regime
Definition
The set of people and rules in control of a country at any one time. When Vicente Fox was in power of Mexico his government was his regime
Term
Sovereignty
Definition
The ability of a state to control its own affairs without interference. All states we have studied have been sovereign, whereas South Ossetia's sovereignty is in question as only two nations have recognized its independence.
Term
Democracy
Definition
A state's system of free and fair elections- people able to vote unencumbered by voter taxes, intimidation. People can fairly get and remain on the ballot. China has few examples of democracy as people do not vote for their president- the Politburo Standing Committee does.
Term
Direct v. Indirect Democracy
Definition
Direct- people vote directly on issues in question
Indirect- used by most countries; people vote on representatives who vote on the issues. The Uk votes for parliament members who represent their ideals in the legislation
Term
Authoritarian
Definition
An absolute ruler with a despotic, usually unelected, person who unilaterally makes decisions for the country. Stalinist Russia had an authoritarian regime- Stalin's power knew no limits.
Term
Totalitarian
Definition
A government in which the political entity exercises absolute power or control. Stalinist Russia's regime was totalitarian as the regime had total control over parties, civil society, media, etc.
Term
Corporatism
Definition
The involvement or control of large interest groups and corporations in the government. British Quangos and Mexican Camarillos are examples as they incorporate interest groups into legislative bodies
Term
Power v. Authority
Definition
Power is what the government is able to do, and authority is what they have the right to do
Term
Rule of Law
Definition
This is the notion that no one is above the law, and all members of a country must abide by the laws
Term
Democratization
Definition
The transition from a more authoritarian regime to one that is more democratic and where the public are given more power in the government
Term
Indicators
Definition
Indicators of democracy are the fairness of elections, and the political freedoms that people have
Term
Globalization
Definition
This is the process of connecting the world on economic and social levels
Term
Fragmentation
Definition
The fragmentation of formal authority and its resolution by formal and informal coordinating mechanisms at the top of the system; there are a bunch of people to report to
Term
Civil Society
Definition
A society in which people are involved in social and political interactions free of state control or regulation
Term
Political Recruitment
Definition
The process by which citizens are selected for positions within the government
Term
Political Socialization
Definition
The process by which people learn their political views and develop their own opinions concerning politics
Term
Political Culture
Definition
The tradition of poltiical systems that a group of people are used to and is present in their everyday lives.
Term
Political Ideologies
Definition
An organized system of political beliefs, values, and ideas.
Term
Conservatism vs. Liberalism
Definition
Conservatism is a more old-fashioned ideology, and this ideology typically does not choose change. Liberalism is more dynamic and radical, and is willing to challenge the way that things have been done.
Term
Politics
Definition
Having to do with human decisions.
Term
Supranational Organization
Definition
An organization that involves several different nations.
Term
Non-Governmental Organizations
Definition
Any organization that doesn't have anything to do with the government.
Term
Legitimacy
Definition
Where a government obtains the right to rule.
Term
Stability
Definition
The likelihood that a governmental regime will stay in power for an extended amount of time.
Term
Gross National Product (GNP)
Definition
The total market value of goods and services produced by all the citizens of a country.
Term
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Definition
The total market value of goods and services produced by all workers within a nation.
Term
Per Capita
Definition
Per person.
Term
Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)
Definition
The system of developing a "universal" price for a product based on the relative price levels of two countries.
Term
Theocracy
Definition
A government ruled by religious law.
Term
Neo-Liberalism
Definition
A blend of liberal political beliefs and a more free economy.
Term
Communism
Definition
A system of government where there is collective ownership and the government really controls everything.
Term
Socialism
Definition
A system of government where the government has higher taxes and more control over the people, but also provides them with more social services.
Term
Command Economy
Definition
Type of economy that is under strict control by the government.
Term
Market Economy
Definition
A type of economy that has much less control over it, and forces like the free hand and competition guide it.
Term
Fascism
Definition
A political theory advocating an authoritarian hierarchal government.
Term
Accountability
Definition
Taking responsibilities for a government's action.
Term
Transparency
Definition
How much the public sees of the government's actions.
Term
Unitary System
Definition
A system of government where the power rests with one central authority; there isn't a lot of devolution.
Term
Federal System
Definition
A system of government where the power is not only at a national level, but also at local ones too.
Term
Separation of Powers
Definition
An aspect of government where the power is separated among different branches.
Term
Para-Statal Organization
Definition
An organization that is controlled partly by the government and partly by the private sector.
Term
Dependency Theory
Definition
The theory that developed nations benefit from the underdeveloped nations and use this to exploit them for their resources.
Term
Resource Curse
Definition
When a country has large oil reserves, they can often complicate the country and ruin the livelihoods of the average citizen instead of bringing them money.
Term
Presidential System
Definition
A system of government where most of the power resides with the president.
Term
Parliamentary System
Definition
A system of government where most of the power rests with the legislative body.
Term
Semi-Presidential System
Definition
A system of government where the president and the legislative body share power on a more equal basis.
Term
Referendum
Definition
A direct vote of the people for some sort of government action.
-In Russia, the Constitution of 1993 was passed by referendum
Term
Free and Fair Elections
Definition
The center of all democracies, how the people have control over the government and choose their leaders- no voter intimidation, more than one name on the ballot, etc.
Term
Proportional Representation
Definition
A party receives the percentage of seats in Parliament that it gains in votes.
-
Term
Plurality Representation
Definition
An elections sytem where the winner is whoever has the most votes; a majority is not required.
Term
Single Member District
Definition
First past the post- whoever wins the most votes gets all for the seats from that region.
Term
Multi-Member Districts
Definition
When several candidates can get the votes of a certain region.
Term
First Past The Post
Definition
Another word for single member district.
Term
Majoritarian Election System
Definition
People vote for each candidate and whichever candidate gets the majority wins the elections.
-Mexico has the majoritarian election system
Term
Electoral System
Definition
The manner in which representatives are elected
-The British electoral system is first past the post
Term
Competitive Elections
Definition
Elections that have several candidates and they both campaign on equal grounds.
-British elections are fair and competitive
Term
Linkage Institutions
Definition
Aspects that join the government and the public together.
-QUANGOS in Great Britain connect the public and the govt.
Term
Political Pparties
Definition
Groups of people that have the same political views.
-The Liberals in GB, the COmmunists in Russia
Term
Interest Groups
Definition
A group of people that have similar views and usually represent some cause, and lobby for their cause within the government.
-The oil interest groups in Iran
Term
Bureaucracy
Definition
Nonelected government officials.
-China has extensive unelected officials in the party and the government
Term
Judiciary (independent vs. non-independent)
Definition
The branch of the government that is in charge of interpreting the rules and punishing suspects accordingly.
-The Chinese judiciary does not in reality have the right to go against the present, whereas in Great Britain they do
Term
Judicial Review
Definition
when a judicial branch reviews an action to make sure that it is according to the laws.
-In GB, the highest court can go against the Parliament to declare something against the law.
Term
Legislature
Definition
Tthe branch of government that makes the laws and is made up of a lot of people.
-Parliament in GB, Majlis in Iran, Duma in Russia
Term
Bicameral
Definition
A type of legislature divided into two parts
-GreatBritain has the house of commons and the house of lords; they function indpendently
Term
Unicameral
Definition
A legislature made up of one body
-The Maljiz in Iran has only one body
Term
Executive
Definition
The leader of the government, in charge of enforcing laws
-The prime minister is the head of the executive branch of the British Government
Term
Head Of State
Definition
he part of the executive that deals more with foreign policy and looking out for the country's interests as a whole
-The Queen is the head of state in Great Britian- she deals with foreign policy but is unelected
Term
Head of Government
Definition
The part of the government that is more involved with parties and actually implementing and carrying out policies.
-The President is the head of government in Mexico- he deals with all of the country's domestic policy
Term
Civil, Criminal
Definition
Criminal law is actually breaking laws and proof is required; civil law is more things like divorces and contracts.
-Iran does not allow divorce, so civil laws are not as big a deal there
Term
Sharia, Secular
Definition
Sharia is the law system that follows the Koran, a secular government is one in which the governmentr is not related to religion.
-Great Britain is secular, whereas Iran is a Sharia theocracy
Term
Constitutional
Definition
Law that is defined by the constitution, usually the supreme law of the land and trumps all other laws.
-The Constitution of Great Britain is unwrittwen and therefore unofficial.
Term
Cleavages
Definition
When some factor like nationality, religion, ethnicity, or politics cause a divide between two parties
-The conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland
Term
Cleavages
Definition
When some factor like nationality, religion, ethnicity, or politics cause a divide between two parties
-The conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland
Term
Cumulative vs. Cross-Cutting
Definition
Cumulative- when the sides differ on all aspects
-Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland
Cross-Cutting- Sides agree on some issues and differ on others.
-economic classes in Mexico
Term
Military Junta
Definition
A government that is led by a committee of military leaders.
-Since gaining independence Nigeria has been ruled by several different military junta.
Term
Patron-Client System
Definition
A system of exchanging favors for other other favors (quid-pro-quo).
-The Nomenklatura system in Russia
Term
Clientalism
Definition
A political system based on personal relationships rather than merit.
-In Mexico many politicians and beaurocrats get their jobs based on whom they know
Term
Political Participation
Definition
How the public involves itself in the government's actions and policies.
-Voting, running, being in interest groups
Term
Reform
Definition
An often slow change of the government from within.
-People in Iran demanded reform after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Mexico had electoral reform in the 90's
Term
Revolution
Definition
A more violent change of government when the whole government is usually replaced; this is usually led by the people.
-When the Bosheviks in Russia revolted they overthrew the Tsar
Term
Coup D'├ętat
Definition
A change in the government when the whole thing is replaced; this is usually led by the military.
-When Yeltsin led the military against the Parliament he changed the government drastically
Term
Privatization
Definition
The process of puting the economy into the private hands of the public; less government ownership.
-Deng Xiaoping promoted privatization in China
Term
Nationalization
Definition
The process of changing something from private ownership to government ownership.
-Under Lenin, all business in Russia was nationalized.
Term
Social Welfare State
Definition
A type of state where the government takes responsibility for the well-being of its citizens.
-Great Britain offers healthcare and retirement, making it a welfare state
Term
Technocrat
Definition
A fourth generation leader in China, often more capitalist
-The Shanghai Clique
Term
Civil Liberties, Rights
Definition
The personal freedoms that a person has and what they are allowed to do.
-In Great Britain, everyone has their basic rights protected
Term
Charismatic
Definition
A type of legitimacy where the leader has power because of his special character.
-Ayatolla Khomeni of Iran had charismatic legitimacy
Term
Rational Legal
Definition
A type of legitimacy where the right to rule comes from a legal document.
-The Mexican Constitution holds power
Term
Traditional
Definition
Where the right to rule comes from a history of political systems.
-Great Britain has no Constitution, but the system remains strong from tradition
Term
Cult of Personality
Definition
When a person uses the media and propaganda to create an iconic and heroic image of himself.
-Chairman Mao, most Russian leaders (Putin, Stalin, Lenin)
Term
Devolution
Definition
The sharing of power between different parts of the government.
-Great Britain devolved by giving Scotland, Wales, and NI their own Parliaments
Term
Ethnicity
Definition
Groups that are physically quite similar but differ by language, religion, customs, and historical memory.
-The Han Chinese in China are ethnically similar.
Term
Gradualism
Definition
The slow and steady approach of changing an economy from a command one to a capitalist one.
-In China the economy is slowly opening up to foreign investment and private ownership.
Term
Vote of No Confidence
Definition
When a piece of legislature proposed by the Prime Minister does not get passed, the Prime Minister must call for elections.
-Great Britian has a vote of no confidence
Term
Two-Ballot System
Definition
system of elections where if no candidate receives the majority, a second round of voting between the two candidates that got the most votes.
-In Iran in 2005, Ahmadenijad and Rasfanji both has under 50%, so they went in a run-off election
Term
Subnational Government
Definition
The local governments that exist under the national government.
-Mexico's estados have local governments
Term
Failed State
Definition
a state that is not effective and doesn't really have any legitimacy or control over its people.
-People thought Nigeria's government would fail and it would be a failed state,
Term
Strong v. Weak State
Definition
A strong state is a stable one that has a lot of control over the people, and a weak state as an unstable one that doesn't really have a lot of control over the public.
-China is very strong, whereas Nigeria is very weak
Term
Import Substitution
Definition
The notion that a government should do what it can to reduce its dependency on foreign nations by developing its own products internally.
-China doesn't want to import anything so it makes everything it needs.