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Government vocabulary 1, 2, 4, 7


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1. Politics
the process by which a community selects rulers and empowers them to make decisions, takes action to attain common goals, and reconciles conflicts within the community
2. Power
The capacity to influence or control the behavior of persons and institutions, whether by persuasion or coercion
3. Authority
command of the obedience of society’s members by a government
4. Legitimacy
the exercise of political power in a community in a way that is voluntarily accepted by the members of that community
5. Legitimate authority
the legal or moral right of a government to rule over a specific population and control a specific territory
6. Order
an existing or desired arrangement of institutions based on certain principles, such as liberty, equality, prosperity, and security. Order is also often associated the rule of law and with conservative values such as stability, obedience, and respect for legitimate authority
7. Community
any association of individuals who share a common identity based on geography, ethical values, religious beliefs, or ethnic origins
8. Government
the persons and institutions that make and enforce rules or laws for the larger community
9. Republics
a form of government in which sovereignty resides in the people of that country, rather than with the rulers. The vast majority of republics today are democratic or representative republics, meaning that the sovereign power is exercised by elected representatives who are responsible to the citizenry.
10. State
- an independent political-administrative unit that successfully claims the allegiance of a give population, exercismes a monopoly on the legitimate use of coercive force, and controls the territory inhabited by its citizens or subjects.
11. Sovereignty
a government’s capacity to assert supreme power successfully in a political state
12. Country
sovereign state and is roughly equivalent to nation or nation-state
13. Nation
- denotes a specific people with a distinct language and culture or a major ethnic group
14. Nation-State
a geographically defined community administered by a government
15. Multinational State
sovereign states that contain two + major ethnolinguistic groups in the territories they control
16. Stateless Nations
peoples who are scattered over the territory o several states or dispersed widely and who have no autonomous, independent, or sovereign governing body of their own (ex. Kurds, Palestinians)
17. Justice
fairness; the distribution of rewards and burdens in society in accordance with what is deserved
18. Methodology
the way scientists and scholars set about exploring, explaining, proving, or disproving propositions in different academic disciplines. The precise methods vary according to the discipline and the object, event, process, or phenomenon under investigation
19. Positivism
a philosophy of science originated by Auguste Comte that stresses observable, scientific facts as the sole basis of proof and truth; a skeptical view of ideas or beliefs based on religion or metaphysics
20. Normative Approach
- an approach to the study or politics that is based on examining fundamental and enduring questions
21. Behaviorism
an approach to the study or politics that emphasizes fact-based evaluations of action
22. Number Crunchers
- a term frequently applied to researchers in the behavioral sciences who often rely heavily on computer-baased models and programs and use quantitative methods (mathematics and statistics) to analyze problem.
23. Political Realism
the philosophy that power is the key variable in all political relationships and should be used pragmatically and prudently to advance the national interest; policies are judged good or bad on the basis of the effect on national interests, not on their level of morality.
24. Public Good
the shared beliefs of a political community as to what goals government ought to attain
25. Ideology
any set of fixed, predictable ideas held by politicians and citizens on how to serve the public good
26. Anarchism
a system that opposes in principle for existence of any form of government often through violence and lawlessness.
27. Nihilism
a philosophy that holds that the total destruction of all existing social and political institutions is a desirable end in itself
28. Libertarianism
- a system based on the belief that government is a necessary evil that should interfere with individual freedom and privacy as little as possible (minimalism)
29. Monarchism
a system based on the belief that political power should be concentrated in one person (ie, the king) who rules by decree.
30. Fascism
- a totalitarian political system that is headed by a popular charismatic leader and in which a single political party and carefully controlled violence form the bases of complete social and political control. Fascism differs from communism in that the economic structure, although controlled by the state, is privately owned.
31. Capitalism
an economic system in which individuals own the means of production and can legally amass unlimited personal wealth.
32. Collectivism
- the belief that the public good is best served by common, collective ownership of a political community’s means of production and distribution.
33. Socialism
an ideology favoring collective and government ownership over individual or private ownership
34. Utopian Socialists
individuals who believed that public ownership or property could be effectively accomplished and could solve most important political problems.
35. Revolutionary Communism/Marxism
- the ideology that the capitalist system must be smashed by a violent uprising by the working class and replaced with public ownership and a government-controlled economic system
36. Proletariat
Marxist theory, the working class
37. Bourgeoisie
in Marxist ideology, the capitalist class
38. Dialectical Materialism-
Karl Marx’s theory of historical progression, according to which economic classes struggle with one another, producing an evolving series of economic systems that will lead, ultimately, to a classless society.
39. Law of Capitalism Accumulation
according to Karl Marx, the invariable rule that stronger capitalists, motivated solely by greed, will gradually eliminate weaker competitors and gain increasing control of the market.
40. Law of Pauperization
- In Karl Marx’s view, the rule that capitalism has a built-in tendency toward recession and unemployment, and thus workers inevitably become surplus labor.
41. Eurocommunism
- in western Europe, a modification of traditional Soviet communism that renounced violent revolution and dictatorship in favor of control of the existing governmental structure through elections.
42. Democratic Socialism
a form of government based on popular elections, public ownership and control of the main sectors of the economy, and broad welfare programs in health and education to benefit citizens
43. Gradualism
the belief that major changes in society should take place slowly, through reform, rather than suddenly, through revolution.
44. Welfare State
- a state whose government is concerned with providing for the social welfare of its citizens and does so usually with specific public policies, such as health insurance, minimum wages, and housing subsidies
45. Liberal Tradition in Western Political Thought
a 300 years old tradition which takes the position that the purpose of government is to champion and protect individual rights. However, there is continuing disagreement b/w the followers of American liberalism and American conservatism about which individual rights are most important.
46. American liberalism
a perspective in the US that emphasizes individualism, equality, and civil rights about other values
47. American conservatism
- a perspective in the US that emphasizes prosperity, security, and traditional above other values
48. Laissez-faire capitalism
Capitalism that operates under the idea that the marketplace, unfettered by central state planning, is the best regulator of the economic life of a society.
49. Constitutionalism
the concept that the power and discretion of government and its officials ought to be restrained by a supreme set of neutral rules that prevent arbitrary and unfair action by government
50. Direct Democracy
a form of government in which political decisions are made directly by citizens rather than by their representatives
v51. Republic
- a form of government in which sovereignty resides in the people of that country, rather than with the rulers. The vast majority of republics today are democratic or representative republics, meaning that the sovereign power is exercised by elected representatives who are responsible to the citizenry.
52. Liberal democracy
a form of government based on constitutionalism, the rule of law, universal rights, and the principle of consent; the two basic models in existence are presidential and parliamentary
53. Crosscutting cleavages
when individuals belong to various social groups (ie, labor union, church, PTA, etc); in the aggregate, these multiple affiliations can have a moderating effect on public opinion
54. Pluralism
theorists who believe that in any large democracy, the political system is decentralized and institutionally fragmented and therefore that control of the power structure is possible only by single-issue coalitions in confined areas of special interest.
55. Constitutional democracy
a system of limited government, based on majority rule, in which political power is scattered among many factions and interest groups, and governmental actions and institutions, must conform to rules defined by a constitution.
56. Constitution
delineation of the basic organization and operation of government.
57. Concurrent powers
- joint federal and state control
58. Jeffersonian model
a political philosophy that places great trust in the basic goodness and wisdom of the people, opposes “big government” and favors keeping political decisions as close to the people as possible.
59. majority rule
the principle that any candidate or program that receives at least half of all votes plus one prevails.
60. plurality vote system
a system in which candidates who get the largest number of votes win, whether or not they garner a majority of the votes casts
61. Madisonian democracy
a model of democracy based on the assumption that human beings are by nature self-interested and fractious; in contrast to the Jeffersonian model, it posits the natural tendency of society toward fragmentation and conflict rather than unity and harmony
62. Checks and balances
- constitutional tools that enable branches of government to resist any illegitimate expansion of power by other branches
63. Separation of powers
the organization of government into distinct areas of legislative, executive, and judicial functions, each responsible to different constituencies and possessing its own powers and responsibilities
64. Federalism
a system of limited government based on the division of authority between the central government and smaller regional governments.
65. Brokered democracy
this theory olds that the interests of major groups cannot be steamrolled by the majority without jeopardizing democracy; and that legislators and decision makers should act as brokers in writing laws and devision politices that are acceptable to all major groups in society.
66. Concurrent majority
John Calhoun’s theory of democracy, which holds that the main function of democracy, which holds that the main function of government is to mediate b/w and among the different economic, social, and sectional interests in American society.
67. nullification
según this controversial idea, a state can nullify acts of the Congress within its own borders. John Calhoun and other states’-rights advocates put forward this doctrine prior to the Civil War.
68. dual federalism
under this system, which prevailed in the US b/w 1835 and 1860, the power of the national government was limited to enumerated powers; during this period, the Southern states claimed sovereign powers.
69. police powers
- powers of states to maintain the internal peace and order, provide for education and generally safeguard the people’s health, safety, and welfare.
70. new federalism
during the Nixon administration, the federal government provided unrestricted (or minimally restricted) fund to states and localities under this program; later, under Pres Ronald Reagan, it was reincarnated as a policy aimed at cutting federal funds going to the states
71. devolution
in the context of US federalism, the policy of giving states and localities more power to make laws, politices, and decisions without interference from DC.
72. supremacy clause
Article VI, Section 2, of the constitution, which declares that acts of Congress are “the Supreme law of the Land…binding on the Judges in every State.”
73. unitary system
a system in which the government may choose to delegate affairs to local government.
74. prefects
France, the heads of major governmental agencies.
75. tutelage
the system of central bureaucratic supervision of all local decisions found in a unitary system of government (ie, France)
76. power of the purse
Under the US Constitution, the provision that gives the Congress the exclusive right to impose taxes and the final word on government spending.
77. war powers
the US Constitution gives the Congress the power to raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a navy, to make rules regulating the armed forces, and to declare war; it makes the president the commander in chief of the armed forces.
78. presidential democracy
a democratic form of government in which the chief executive is chosen by separate election, serves a fixed term, and has powers carefully separated from those of the other branches of government
79. separation of powers
the organization of government into distinct areas of legislative, executive, and judicial functions, each responsible to different constituencies and possessing its own powers and responsibilities; the system of dividing the governmental powers among three branches and giving each branch a unique role to play while making all three interdependent
80. tyranny of the majority
the political situation in which a dominant group uses its control of the government to abuse the rights of minority groups.
81. Bicameralism
division of the legislature into two houses
83. Magna Carta
a list of political concessions granted in 1215 by King John to his barons that became the basis for the rule of law in England
84. Petition of Right
an act, passed by the English Parliament in 1628, that established due process of law and strictly limited the monarch’s powers of taxation.
85. Star Chamber
Historically, a British court whose jurisdiction was extended to allow the king arbitrarily to punish anyone who disobeyed a royal decree.
86. Habeas Corpus Act
an act, passed by the English Parliament in 1679, that strengthened the rights of English citizens to the protection of law.
87. Dr. Bonham’s case
English court case (1610) in which juist Edward Coke propounded the principle that legislative acts contrary to the rule of law are null and void.
89. Due Process
a guarantee of fair legal procedure; it is found in the 5th and 14th amendments of the US Constitution.
90. Equal Protection
the doctrine enshrined in the 14th amendment, which holds that the prohibitions placed on the federal government and the protections afforded American citizens under the Bill of Rights also apply to the states.
91. Ex Post Facto Law
a law that retroactively criminalizes acts that were legal at the time they were committed.
92. Bill of Attainder
a legislative decree that declares a person guilty and prescribes punishment without any judicial process.
93. Protective Democracy
a theory of democracy that places the highest priority on national security.
94. Homeland Security
a term Pres Bush popularized after the 9/11 attacts, it refers to a whole range of counterterrorist policies, including tighter border and immigration controls, stepped-up airport security, expanded FBI surveillance powers, more invasive policy investigations, etc.
95. Developmental democracy
- a model of democracy that stresses the development of virtuous citizens.
96. pluralist democracy
a model of democracy that stresses vigorous competition among various interests in a free society
97. participatory democracy
a model of democracy that seeks to expand citizen participation in government to the maximum possible degree.
98. Cosmopolitan democracy
a model of democracy that sees the individual as part of a world order, not merely (or even primarily) as a citizen of a particular nation-state.
99. Parliamentary system
a system of democratic government in which authority is concentrated in the legislative branch, which selects a prime minister and cabinet officers who serve as long as they have majority support in the parliament.
1. Mixed Regime
a nations in which the various branches of government represent social classes.
2. No-confidence vote
in parliamentary governments, a legislative vote that the sitting government must win to remain in power.
3. disciplined parties
in a parliamentary system, the tendency of legislators to vote consistently as a bloc with fellow party members in support of the party’s platform.
4. loyal opposition-
the belief, which originated in England, that the out-of-power party has a responsibility to formulate alternative policies and programs; such a party is sometimes called the loyal opposition.
5. dual executive
- in a parliamentary system, the division of the functions of head of state and chief executive officer between two persons; the prime minister serves as chief executive and some other elected (or royal) figure serves as ceremonial head of state.
6. National Assembly
focal point of France’s bicameral legislative branch that must approve all laws.
7. divided executive
situation in French government in which the president and the prime minister differ in political party or outlook.
8. cohabitation
in France, the uneasy toleration of a divided executive.
9. Weimar Republic
the constitutional democracy founded in Germany at the end of WWII by a constitutional convention convened in 1919 at the city of Weimar; associated with a period of political and economic turmoil, it ended when Hitler came to power in 1933.
10. Cold War
the high level of tension b/w the US and the former USSR, in which diplomatic maneuvering, hostile propaganda, economic sanctions, and military buildups were used as weapns in a struggle for dominance.
11. Bundestag
- the lower house in the German federal system; most legislative activity occurs in this house.
12. Bundesrat
the upper house in the German federal system; its members, who are appointed directly by the states exercise mostly informal influence in the legislative process.
13. Meiji Restoration
- the end of Japan’s feudal era, in 1868, when a small group of powerful individuals crowned a symbolic emperor, embarked on an economic modernization program, and established a modern governmental bureaucracy.
14. Moghuls
muslim invaders who created a dynastic empire on the Asian sub-contient
15. British Raj
- British colonial rule on the Asian subcontinent from the 18th century to 1947 when Indian and Pakistan became independent
16. Kashmir
a disputed territory between Indian and Pakistan; most of Kashmir is controlled by Indian, which has a Hindu majority, but kashmir’s population is predominantly Musmlim, the religion of Pakistan. India and Pakistan have fought three major wars over Kashmir since independence in 1947 and tensions mounted again in 2000-01; India possesses nuclear weapons and Pakistan may also have a limited number of atomic bombs in its military arsenal.
17. Lok Sabha
the lower house of India’s federal parliament; the directly elected House of the People; in India as in UK and other Parliamentary systems, govs are formed by the majority party (or a coalition of parties) in the lower house following national elections
18. Rajya Sabha
the upper house of India’s Federal Parliament; the indirectly elected Council of States
Palestinian Arabs
- the Arab inhabitants of the former territory of Palestine, most of which is now the state of Israel; Palestinian Arabs, like most other Arabs, are Muslims. Millions of Palestinians wer displaced after WWII when Jewish immigrants mostly from Europe realized a long-standing Zionist dream to recreate a Jewish homeland in the historical place where Judaism was born. The creation of Israel was accomplished by armed struggle rather than negotiation, setting the stage for what has become a permanent state of war b/w Palestinian Arabs and the state of Israel.
20. Palestine
- the territory south of Lebanon and Syria and west of Jordan known in Biblical times as Judea and Samaria; today most of this territory forms the nation-state of Israel established in 1947 with the help of the US and GB
21. Zionism
the movement whose genesis was in the reestablishment, and now the support of, the Jewish national state of Israel.
22. Balfour Declaration
named for the British foreign secretary who in 1947 declared that the UK favored “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” and pledged to “facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shal be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
23. Camp David Accords
A 1979 agreement by which Israel gave the Sinai back to Egypt in return for Egypt’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist; the two former enemies established full diplomatic relations and pledged to remain at peace with one another.
24. Intifada
an Arabic word meaning “uprising”; the name given to the prolonged Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza in 1987-93 and again in 2001-02
25. Knesset
the unicameral Israeli parliament
26. Parliamentary Sovereignty
in the UK, the unwritten constitutional principle which makes the British parliament the supreme law-making body; laws passed by Parliament are not subject to judicial review and cannot be rejected by the Crown.
27. Question hour
in the UK, the times set aside Monday- Thursday every week for her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition (the party out of power) to criticize and scrutinize the actions and decisions of the Government (the party in power) twice each week the prime minister must answer hostile questions fired at him or her by the Opposition, as well
28. Collective responsibility-
in the British system, the principle that holds Cabinet members jointly responsible for all the actions and decisions of the government; ministers (US- department secretaries) do not disagree publicly or openly with official policy or with the prime minister on any policy matter, although they may debate issues and express dissenting opinions privately.
29. Common Law
in UK, laws derived from consistent precedents found in judges’ rulings and decisions, as opposed to those enacted by Parliament. In the US, the part of the common law that was in force at the time of the Revolution and not nullified by the Constitution or any subsequent statute
30. Solicitor
in UK, an attorney who can prepare court cases and draw up contracts and other legal documents buy cannot plead cases or become a judge.
31. Barristers
in UK, an attorney who can plead cases in court and be appointed to the bench
32. District courts
the court in which most federal cases originate
33. Appellate courts
court that reviews cases on appeal from district courts
35. Judicial Review
the power of a court to declare acts by the government unconstitutional and hence void.

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