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Regimes in rich democracies


Title: Regimes in rich democracies Author: Bob Stockwell Last modified by: Bob Stockwell Created Date: 5/6/2009 11:45:07 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Regimes in rich democracies

Regimes in rich democracies
  • Regime a particular pattern of politics,
    institutions, and policies
  • Politics the way people compete for political
    power through social movements, interest groups,
    and political parties
  • Organized along cleavage lines
  • Number, nature, intensity of cleavages varies
  • Institutions create rules of the game that
    structure the way political actors compete for
    political power
  • Policies outcome of political conflict filtered
    through institutions
  • Different policy choices among regimes
  • Regime types among rich democracies
  • Social democratic (Denmark, Norway, Sweden)
  • Conservative (Austria, Belgium, Germany,
  • Christian democratic (Canada, Ireland, United

Social democratic Politics
  • Best exemplified in Scandinavian countries
  • Gradual, smooth process of democratization
  • Far-left parties never gained traction
  • Absence of linguistic, ethnic, and religious
  • Did not weaken, compete with class basis of
    political loyalty)
  • Unique set of alliances
  • Disunity among opponents forged alliances with
    groups beyond working class (farmers and workers
    later, white-collar workers, middle-class voters)
  • Disunity among opponents, social homogeneity,
    strong working-class attachments, appeal to
    middle-class voters beyond working-class base

Social democratic Policies
  • Capitalist economic systems (vibrant businesses
    generates tax revenue for social democratic
  • Big government
  • High rates of state expenditures and government
    revenues as percent of GDP (Table 5.1, 122)
  • High percentage of public sector employees (Table
    5.2, 123)
  • Social democratic welfare state
  • Universal available to all citizens (health
    care, day care, pensions, etc. provided to rich
    and poor alike)
  • Key to binding middle-class welfare state
  • Resources and risks pooled in the welfare state
    creating a convergence of interest)
  • Comprehensive cradle-to-grave protection (day
    care to home help for the elderly)
  • Generous replacement rates for income lost due
    to pregnancy, sickness, injury, unemployment high
    (around 75 of former earnings)
  • Quality of life detached from performance in
    labor market (wages and benefits standard of
    living does not depend on pay check)
  • Certain goods taken out of the market
  • Provided as a right of citizenship
  • Service intensive range of services delivered by
    the state is extensive
  • Redistributive benefits provided to most of the
    population, and these tend to be equal (which
    ironically has greater redistributive effect than
    those regimes that target the poor)

Social democratic welfare state
  • Critics charge welfare state reduces incentives
    to work
  • Scandinavian style welfare state has contributed
    to economic efficiency and productivity, has
    actually supported the economy
  • High labor force participation rates
  • range of services provided to relieve burden of
    care that previously required women to stay at
  • Contributes to dynamism and competitiveness of
  • Home markets are small, have to export what they
  • Need to adjust continually, adopt new
    technologies, allocate resources to new sectors
    depending on shifts in international markets
  • Creative destruction poses threats to workers
    who risk loosing their livelihood when plants
    close, industries become uncompetitive
  • Welfare state alleviates threats by socializing
    costs of economic change (they do not fall on
    workers themselves)
  • Security provided by welfare state reduces
    opposition to new, labor-saving technologies and
    demands to maintain uncompetitive firms (think
  • Moderates workers wage demands
  • Active labor market policies retraining, job
    placement, and relocation assistance to
    unemployed workers assist in making transition
    promotes increasing skill levels among workers
  • Result Highly competitive capitalist economies
    and large, redistributive welfare states

Social democratic Institutions
  • Centralized political systems
  • Parliamentary democracies
  • Party discipline (strong parties)
  • Governments govern through support of disciplined
    majorities potential conflict, stalemate of
    competing legislative and executive branches
    avoided (fused executive-legislative)
  • Unitary power concentrated at national level
  • Judicial review authority generally weak
  • Unicameralism, weak federalism, absence of
    judicial review, parliamentary government give
    dissenting groups few opportunities to block
    legislation majority prefers
  • Large and powerful labor movement
  • High percentage of unionized workers (high union
  • Unions and party closely allied
  • Corporatist interest groups
  • Unions and employers engage in centralized
    bargaining with encouragement of state (somewhat
    in decline)

Conservative politics
  • Production of goods and services left almost
    wholly to the market marginal state
  • Weakness of left-wing parties
  • Either completely absent (e.g., U.S.), or
  • Class-voting low class position does not
    determine how voters vote to the same degree
  • Class cleavages less intense other sources of
    conflict (e.g., in U.S., race, gender, religion
    cross-cut and weaken class identification)
  • Business politically dominant
  • Interest group advantage (organization, lobbying,
    campaign contributions)
  • Low voter turnout lowest among working class
    (class divide subdued)
  • Politicians deliver policies that appeal to
    wealthy voters who are most likely to vote and
    ignore demands of working-class voters less
    likely to vote
  • Business interests identified with interests of
    society as a whole (Whats good for GMis good
    for America)

Conservative policies
  • Good at creating new jobs and increasing economic
    growth (Table 5.4, 130)
  • Lower payroll taxes and wages reduces labor costs
    for employers, allowing them to hire more workers
  • Small public sector (does not require high taxes)
  • Low state spending and revenues as proportion of
  • Regulatory hand of the state constrained (gives
    way to managerial authority) when it comes to
    business activity
  • Low in terms of welfare effort (proportion of GDP
    devoted to social spending Table 5.6, 132)
  • Not designed to create broad equality
  • Creates a floor under which poor cannot fall
  • Private to public spending devoted to welfare
    high (citizens pay larger proportion of cost of
    day care, health care, retirement)
  • Low levels of public spending on welfare (lesser
    benefits distributed to poor)
  • Circumstances of those who are not poor
    determined through private sector (by their
    fortunes in the labor market rather than shared
    fate as citizens)
  • Wealthy find policies suitable because small
    costs of welfare state limits their taxes, and
    they can afford to purchase privately (through
    the market) a level of services that fits their

Conservative institutions
  • Great variety of forms
  • Some federal others unitary
  • Parliamentary and presidential
  • Bicameral (but significant differences in power
    of second chamber)
  • Different electoral systems (PR and plurality)
  • Differences in judicial review
  • Differences in centralization (from highly
    centralized to least centralized, U.S.)
  • E.g., U.S. strong federalism, bicameralism,
    independent Congress, weak parties, judicial
    review make it easy for minorities to capture
    part of state and thwart will of majority
  • Similar interest group structures pluralist
    smaller union movements

Christian democratic politics
  • Organized around both class and church-state
    cleavages (although more recently both are less
    prominent than in the past with emergence of new
    parties and political issues)
  • Tend to be centrist in orientation (catch-all
    parties) able to attract cross-section of
    workers, farmers, shopkeepers, business
  • Able to more right or left in seeking coalition
  • All use PR electoral systems

Christian democratic policies
  • Big government (not as big as social democratic
  • Relatively high government expenditures, total
    tax revenue as proportion of GDP (between Social
    Democratic and Conservative Regimes)
  • High levels of welfare expenditures (proportion
    of GDP devoted to public expenditures) closer to
    social democratic than conservative regimes
  • Above average in spending on health and pensions
  • Below average on poverty and social services
  • Medium on replacement rates for income lost due
    to retirement or unemployment
  • Different kind of collective services than social
    democratic regimes
  • Provide generous transfer payments and cash
    benefits to citizens
  • Public sector employment lower than average for
    conservative regimes
  • State sector ambiguous large fiscal presence
    (high taxes and expenditures), but small social
  • Goal of social policy reinforce traditional
    family values (income security for families so
    women can remain in traditional domestic role)
    mitigate effects of inequality
  • Welfare programs managed by union and employer
    representatives for each sector of the economy
  • Benefits preserve differentials among occupations
    (more to more highly valued occupations)
  • Social programs do not bind citizens segment
    citizens by occupation reinforce class

Christian democratic institutions
  • Parliamentary democracies
  • Bicameral, but differences in power of
    upper/lower houses
  • Differences in judicial review
  • Differences in unitary-federal forms
  • Corporatist interest groups
  • Limited number of hierarchically structured
    associations recognized by the state and
    participate in policy-making process
  • State of corporatism varies across regimes

Comparing capability
  • Physical well-being
  • Social democratic regimes perform best in
    providing for physical needs of citizens
    (Absolute poverty rates, Table 5.7, 141)
  • Conservative regimes have highest rate of
    absolute poverty
  • Informed decision-making
  • Social democratic regimes have best literacy
    scores, conservative regimes the worst (using
    IALS data Table 5.8, 143)
  • Safety
  • Social democratic regimes perform best in
    providing safe environment for citizens (using
    homicide rates Table 5.9, 144)
  • Civil and political rights/quality of democracy
  • No noteworthy differences in press freedom,
    political rights, civil liberties, competitive
  • Significant differences in voice and
    accountability (using quality of democracy
    measures, U.N. Human Development Report Table
    5.10, 145)
  • Social democratic regimes performed better than
    Christian democratic and Conservative regimes
  • Also, voter turnout rates highest in Social
    democratic regimes
  • Social democratic regimes perform better in
    meeting the standards of the good society than
    Conservative or Christian democratic regimes
  • Quality of democracy higher
  • Levels of safety and security higher
  • Citizens more likely to possess skills needed to
    make informed decisions
  • Christian democratic regimes do marginally better
    in meeting physical needs