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Chapter 7
Comparative Politics: Structures and Choices 2e
By Lowell Barrington
Unelected Components
of Government:
Bureaucracies, and
Learning Objectives
 Discuss the tasks of the judiciary, bureaucracy,
and military.
 Describe how each of these unelected
governmental components shape policy
 Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of
judicial review.
 Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a
strong bureaucracy.
 Describe the roles that the judiciary,
bureaucracy, and military play in the TIC cases.
The Judiciary
 Tasks of the Judiciary
 Determining violation of law and appropriate
Review of the constitutionality of existing law and policy
Interpretation of vague laws passed by other branches
of government
Creation of new policies in response to pressing social
Settlement of civil disputes and disputes between units
of government
Legal sanctioning of particular acts
Think and Discuss
What is the most important task of
the judiciary? What makes this task
so important?
The Judiciary
 Organization of the Judicial Branch
 Advantages of Strong Judiciaries
 A check on majority tyranny
 A key component of the “rule of law” in politics
and economics
 Disadvantages of Strong Judiciaries
 Power in the hands of unelected officials
 The potential to advance a political agenda
The Bureaucracy
 Tasks of the Bureaucracy
 Implementation of laws and policies
 Interpretation of existing but vague aws
 Agenda setting and advising on policy
 Policy creation
Think and Discuss
What is the bureaucracy’s single
most important task? What makes
this task so important?
The Bureaucracy
 Organization of Bureaucracies
 Cabinet department or ministry
 Secretary or minister
 Civil service and civil servants
 Merit system versus spoils system
 Specialist approach versus generalist
The Bureaucracy
 Advantages of Large and Powerful
 Stability
 Expertise
 Impartial and fair application of rules
 Disadvantages of Large and Powerful
 Inefficiency through overexpansion and
wasteful spending
 Power in the hands of unelected officials
 Resistance to reform and creative solutions
The Military
 Tasks of the Military under Civilian
 Defending the country
 Developing into a professional fighting force
 For some states, controlling an empire
Think and Discuss
What is the single most important
task of the military? What makes
this task so important?
The Military
 Military Rule and Praetorianism
 Advantages of a Strong Political Role for
the Military
 Making tough policy decisions
 Restoring order and battling corruption
 Disadvantages of a Strong Political Role
for the Military
 Unwillingness to surrender power
 A permanent presence in politics
Topic in Countries
 The United Kingdom
 Common law approach to the judiciary; relative
absence of judicial review authority; new Supreme
Court established in 2009
 Bureaucracy declined under Thatcher; culture of
subordination to elected officials, yet significant
discretion over policy details
 One of the world’s most powerful, professional, and
civilian-controlled militaries
 Bureaucratic autonomy theory
 bureaucrats try to maximize their department’s
 Once bureaucrats are established, they are
more difficult to control and replace
 British bureaucracy was autonomous
 Permanent secretary – can influence
government policy
Topic in Countries
 Germany
 Independent judiciary with substantial review
authority; relatively powerful Federal Constitutional
Court, but lower courts are all under the control of
the Länder
 Decentralized bureaucracy; relatively small in size
compared to other European countries
 Military under firm civilian control since WWII; has
focused more on peacekeeping activities, leaving
broader security to NATO and European Union
Topic in Countries
 India
 Hierarchical judicial structure; Supreme Court has
ruled that the legislature cannot alter constitution’s
“basic structure”
 Large bureaucracy with carefully selected elite (IAS)
at the top; poor pay and high demands lead many to
leave for private sector
 Large military; possesses nuclear weapons;
generally under civilian control
Topic in Countries
 Mexico
 Civil law tradition; practice of genuine judicial review
relatively new
 Bureaucratic appointments had been based on
spoils system; liberalization has led to increased
professionalism, but corruption remains
 The military has little political power; has taken a
back seat to civilian leaders
 Alfred Stepan’s new professionalism theory
 Highlights the military’s perception of its mission
 Greatest challenge to Mexico’s military is the
way against drug cartels
 Shifts mission to internal rather than external threats
Topic in Countries
 Brazil
 Complex court system; Supreme Federal Court has
ample power to check other branches
 Bureaucracy seen as comparatively competent, but
corruption continues to be a problem
 History of military involvement in government;
retains control of the Military Police, often criticized
for their brutality
Topic in Countries
 Nigeria
 Military governments neglected federal and regional
courts; fostered judicial corruption
 Rampant corruption in the bureaucracy;
appointments often due to regional, ethnic, or family
 On and off episodes of military authoritarianism
since independence
Topic in Countries
 Russia
 Judiciary maintains a degree of independence, but
this has decreased under Putin; corruption remains
a problem
 Increase in size of bureaucracy under Putin;
appointments given to those loyal to Putin;
corruption remains a serious problem
 Civilian military control during Soviet period
continued to the present; used for internal security;
hazing practices became political issue
Russia and the Theory of Inverse
Judicial Power
 Inverse judicial power theory
 the courts’ power is inversely related to the
power and unity of the other branches
 Russia experiencing increasing threats
to judicial independence by Putin
Think and Discuss
Which of the theories discussed in
this chapter seems most convincing,
and why?
Topic in Countries
 China
 Courts lack independence from CCP; problems with
corruption; large numbers of civil cases filed each
 Relatively significant bureaucratic authority over
policy implementation; increased emphasis on
technical expertise rather than ideological
 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has played a central
role in politics since 1949; relatively large military
Topic in Countries
 Iran
 Judiciary is constitutionally required to enforce
“ideological conformity”; Supreme Leader has strong
say over legal system; authority to review legislation
given to Guardian Council
 Unlike China, ideological loyalty is key; bureaucratic
corruption is an issue
 Somewhat weak and fractured military;
Revolutionary Guards given more power in recent
Think and Discuss
Do the advantages of powerful
unelected officials outweigh the