Divisions in Parties

Henry Vaule



Memo #10

In Ken Kollman’s piece, The Formation of National Party Systems, he explains the causes of various party’s creation. He establishes the context behind each party’s development. Kollman describes three causes for the progress of different party systems. These causes for the creation of new parties include: smaller division within our society demand power, unanswered challenges continue to plague groups, and electoral rules drive leaders to emerge. The divisions between parties are essential to represent the electorates in the assorted levels of the government. However, while the majority of these levels must be differing in political opinions, these political groups must account whether the party is local, regional, or national.

Kollman covered multiple countries that have a diverse array of political parties including, Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States. Although all of these countries have similar electoral laws, the United States is the only country where two national parties have dominated the political landscape throughout history. This is seen as quite unusual for countries with electoral rules and tensions between the parties continues to increase. As of last Tuesday, Democrats captures the House of Representatives and are set to directly impose President Donald Trump. With this recent win, the Democrats broke the previous Republican monopoly of power. Overall after the midterm elections, the political disputes in America will continue, but these will allow for more differing opinions in the political system.

Is there a possibility of the creation of a new party in America because of the three causes Kollman discussed?  

Although the American government does permit the creation of new parties, it is very unlikely that these newly formed parties gain traction because unlike countries like India and others, our parties system goes beyond the regional differences.

Dickovick, James Tyler, and Jonathan Eastwood. Comparative Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings. New York ; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Collinson, Stephen. “A Divided Congress, a Divided America.” CNN. (November 07, 2018. ) https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/06/politics/2018-election-updates/index.html.

International Relations

Henry Vaule



Memo #15

With an increase in nuclear and terrorist threats, multiple theories have been created and used to deal with this international relations dilemma. In an attempt to repress these threats, some countries have used realism, the theory that states act out of self-interest in international relations, to dictate their actions. Within this theory there are defensive and offensive prompts depending on the state’s attack plan. This theory is most challenged by liberalism and Constructivism. These theories look at the state’s social and political interactions as a guide to their international influence. Finally, the most unpopular theory, Marxism, emphasizes the role of social classes in controlling a state’s international affairs.

Although a nuclear holocaust has not been at the forefront of people’s worries today, radical terrorist groups have become a major concern in international security. In recent years, The United State’s war against terrorism had led to ISIS, a radical Islamic terrorist group based across the Middle East. According to the New York Times, ISIS has lost a majority of its territory. This is mostly due to the U.S.’s aggressive attacks, which have been prompted by an offensive realist mindset. Instead of waiting for a possible terrorist attack, the U.S. decided that the easiest path to peace would be through further invading the middle east and the territories held by ISIS.  

With the complexity of today’s international relations and conflicts, how can these theories be used together?

While Liberalism, Constructivism, and Marxism can be used to originally view other states and their actions, realism and it’s relative branches, often drive the actions the state takes based on their initial outlook of another nation. However, the many factors influencing a state’s international presence can greatly sway their perspective.

Dickovick, J. Tyler, and Jonathan Eastwood. Comparative Politics: Integrating Theories, Methods, and Cases. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Schmitt, Eric, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Helene Cooper, and Alissa J. Rubin. “Its Territory May Be Gone, but the U.S. Fight Against ISIS Is Far From Over.” The New York Times. (March 24, 2019.) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/24/us/politics/us-isis-fight.html.

Executive Order in the Trump Administration

Cate Pollini


Within governments, executives administer the laws that are passed/created by the legislatures. The executive branch of government consists of a head of state, that serves as symbolic representation (monarch) and a head of a government that is responsible for forming governments and implementing laws/policies (prime ministers/presidents). There are two ways to structure the executive branch: presidential and parliamentary. These types of executives have formal powers outlined in their constitution. Formal powers are important to the head of government and their cabinet because it gives them the ability to perform the executive order, state of emergency, or other decrees that can be passed without legislation. Executive leaders also have the power to form coalitions when the winning party does not win the majority.


Earlier this fall, President Trump stated that he plans to end the 14th Amendment that provides birthright citizenship by using an executive order. Trump believes that it is “ridiculous” that a non-US citizen can come to America, have a baby and that baby can automatically be a citizen until death. The 14th Amendment, however, has protected immigrant children like in the 1898 case US v Wong Kim Ark and 1982 case Plyler v Doe.  Nonetheless, executive orders cannot amend the constitution. They must work within the framework of the constitution. In other words, the Constitution cannot be legally erased by executive order.


Should heads of states be given enough power to actually amend a constitution especially if their amendment isn’t in the best interest of the population?


In terms of America’s constitution, President Trump could amend the constitution by calling for a Constitutional Convention and get at least a ⅔ vote from the House and ¾ of the 50 states. So, even though a head of state may be given enough power to amend a constitution they have to surpass many obstacles, which will most likely end with their order becoming illegal. However, in countries with less democratic ideals the head of states “obscure” orders may be enacted due to the loss of liberalism and equality in their country.



  1. Tyler J. Dickovick and Jonathan Eastwood. Comparative Politics: Integrating Theories, Methods, and Cases. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
  2. Chris Riotta. “Trump Wants to Use an Executive Order to Override the 14th Amendment. Here’s Why That Won’t Work.” The Independent. October 30, 2018. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/birthright-citizenship-14th-amendment-trump-executive-order-immigrants-constitution-a8608836.html.

State Capacity in Nigeria

Cate Pollini


A case study by Dickovick and Eastwood explains what a weak state is and how it can be changed, in regards to Nigeria. They use the term state capacity that explains that a strong state is capable of implementing public service acts such as educational investments or establishing a rule of law. In regards to whether Nigeria is a strong state, it is dependent on whether or not “one thinks transforming the state is feasible in a given span of time, and what steps can be recommended to get there.”


In the month of April alone in Nigeria, armed robbers stormed five banks in Offa, Kwara and shot aimlessly and blew up entrances, resulting in 17 Nigerian deaths. There were also herdsman attacks that week as well. These attacks, in addition to others, in just the first 10 weeks of the new year already resulted in about 1,351 deaths. These violent attacks call to question the section of the 1999 constitution that states “the security and welfare of the people shall be a primary purpose of the government.” By these attacks, one can conclude that Nigeria’s rule of law and its state capacity are being completely ignored. The government is unable to submit to sections of their constitution as well as react swiftly to control violence amongst its citizens. Therefore, political scientists (according to Dickovick and Eastwood) thinking in a rationalist point of view can determine that by these acts of violence mean Nigeria is truly a failed state since the political institutions put in place do not provide adequate responses.


Is there a precise way to establish whether a nation is a “failed state,” without having to think in terms of rationalism or historical events?


While determining whether a nation is a failed state it is important to think in ambiguous terms. Being open to more than one interpretation is important in political science and in class, especially while determining statehood. It helps to establish multiple, unbias viewpoints on a particular subject that can move towards a definitive conclusion.



  1. Tyler J. Dickovick and Jonathan Eastwood. Comparative Politics: Integrating Theories, Methods, and Cases. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.
  2. Yemisi Adegoke. “Is It Fair to Call Nigeria a Failed State?” The Guardian. April 11, 2018..https://guardian.ng/features/is-it-fair-to-call-nigeria-a-failed-state/

Can Quota Systems in Governments Achieve Equality?

Cate Pollini


Political parties based on gender, race, and ethnicity are linked to “cross-cutting” cleavages rather than “social stratification,” which means that they are able to represent multiple “cleavages” or ideals. Quotas are instituted in countries to guarantee minorities representation. Candidate quotas are best for crosscut cleavages and reservations, for groups that coincide. Reservations introduce group-specific means with separate electoral roles and special electoral districts that limit competition to group members. However, granting these quotas or reservations can undermine common citizenship and substantive representation.


In 1991, Argentina became the first country to invoke a quota that requires women to be nominated in political elections. Since then, 17 out of the 18 Latin American countries, including Mexico have a similar variation of this quota for women. However, these quotas rarely receive any of their intended results. As female friendly bills increase with new quota representation, they are rarely ever passed. They will only be passed if an abundant amount of females are able to back it. This means that quotas do not always provide assimilation in politics. Critics of these quotas believe that it deprives voters of desirable candidates even under proportional representation governance.


Are quota systems the best way to promote minority rights in government and give access to other high positions of power and even education?


According to Lijphart, quota systems are best instituted in a government with a PR system like in Mexico. However, even with quotas, Mexican female politicians are rarely ever elected or given true political authority. Chandra, on the other hand, believes that when a state creates institutions to mobilize different ethnic identity by language or tribe, it dilutes democracy. This is similar to Nigeria and their quota system that seeks to make sure Igbo, Hausa Fulani, and Yoruba have equal representation which in turn, diminishes their democracy.



  1. Tyler J. Dickovick and Jonathan Eastwood, Comparative Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings:  Is Gender Like Ethnicity? The Political Representation of Identity Groups, (New York, Oxford University Press, 2017), 255-264. 
  2. The Americas, “Latin America has Embraced Quotas for Female Political Candidates.” www.economist.com . https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2018/07/28/latin-america-has-embraced-quotas-for-female-political-candidates.

Will the Trade War with America change Chinese Economics?

Cate Pollini


China is a single party dominant system, controlled by the Communist Party of China, which was established by Mao Zedong. After Mao’s death, economic reforms were made to create “market socialism” by providing greater autonomy to farmers and privatizing firms by using free market techniques. Today, China faces problems with high levels of poverty in rural areas, pollution, and the legacy of the “one child” policy that creates problems with a rapidly aging population.


This upcoming week, China heads into an important round of negotiations with the US as they hash out the final plan regarding the ongoing trade war. The Chinese economy has fallen below a 6.5% growth rate. For years China has attempted to make its economy less manufacturing dependent and more focused on domestic services. However, since privatizing firms, companies are struggling to stay afloat and the trade war is killing off business as tariffs increase. In hopes to simulate its economy again, China has pledged to open itself to foreign capital, cut tariffs and buy more US goods.


Will China still be able to retain a fully communist style of governance if they want to stabilize and stimulate its economy from the ongoing trade war with the US?

If China were to open itself to foreign capital and investments they would be ignoring communism in its purest form. Yet, the country has already done this since the death of Mao with privatizing many firms. This is similar to democracies and factions. According to James Madison, the problem with factions is that not everyone will have the same opinion and if there is a majority it is not always democratic because the majority can be a faction. This would, in turn, dilute democracy in its purest form just as foreign capital and investments would alter the meaning of communism for China.



  1. Tyler Dickovick and Jonathan Eastwood, Comparative Politics: Integrating Theories, Methods, and Cases, (New York, Oxford University Press, 2016), 412-420.
  2. Lingling Wei. “Trade Tensions Take a Toll on China’s Economy.” www.wsj.com. https://www.wsj.com/articles/trade-tensions-take-a-toll-on-chinas-economy-11546776001

Russia and Influence

Last night, we read an article called “Putin’s Game.” Russia is very skilled at computer science and hacking. President Vladimir Putin is fearful of another collapse like the Soviet Union, and he uses aggression to mask the weakness of the state.1 Putin also feels that the US might try to use “democratic empowerment” to trap Russia under its sphere of influence.1 This explains Putin’s disgust for the US and the attempts to hack into US systems during the 2016 election.

I read an article in the New York Times called “Russia Is Returning to Growth (Just in Time for an Election).” which was published in 2017 just before Putin’s reelection. Just before the election, Russia was experiencing significant economic growth under Putin, which may have helped him win. Inflation was decreasing, the consumer demand was high, and the central bank was becoming more stable.2 Government spending helped overcome western sanctions imposed during the Ukraine crisis, supporting Putin’s fight to overcome western influence.2

How can Russia gain more credibility in the global theater and remain independent of influence?

Russia is a country that has experienced recurring periods of stability and collapse. After a collapse, a strong leader or party is needed to restabilize the state. This has happened with the creation of the Soviet Union, and later the election of Putin. Only now is Russia beginning to experience growth again. This is similar to the entrance of the PRI in Mexico during the 20th century. After the Mexican Revolution, Mexico was a fragile state. However, the PRI was a strong party that despite its authoritarian tendencies, transitioned Mexico from a period of weakness to a period of strength.


1 Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Game” The Atlantic (January/February 2018)

2 Andrew E. Kramer, “Russia Is Returning to Growth (Just in Time for an Election).” The New York Times (November 24, 2017) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/business/russia-economy-putin.html