COMPARATIVE GOVERNMENT QUESTIONS FROM PAST TESTS
(free response questions comparing one or more of the four core countries - Great Britain, France, China and the former Soviet Union - and may include the developing nations - India, Mexico or Nigeria) 45 minute questions
1. Discuss the similarities and differences in the recruitment of political elites in France and one of the following: India or Mexico or Nigeria. In your answer, be sure to analyze how these recruitment processes affect relations within the political elite itself and between the elite and citizens.
2. “The governments of contemporary third world countries confront more serious problems of political development than did the governments of western European countries.” Assess the validity of this statement by comparing political development in Great Britain with that in one of the following: India or Mexico or Nigeria
3. Compare and contrast the sources of governmental legitimacy in two countries: China or France and one of the following - India or Mexico or Nigeria. In your answer define legitimacy briefly and discuss two of the following sources of legitimacy: revolutionary experiences - written constitutions - political party systems.
4. The role of the state in regulating and controlling the economy varies across societies. Account for differences and similarities in state intervention in the economies of two countries: Great Britain or France and one of the following: India or Mexico or Nigeria. In your answer, make reference to such factors as ideology, international economic pressures, and domestic politics.
5. Political change is an ongoing process for all countries at all levels of development. Compare and contrast the forces producing political change in the 1980’s in three countries: The former USSR , France and one of the following - India or Mexico or Nigeria. Your answer should specifically address those forces producing institutional changes and policy changes.
6. “Political parties play a more important role in the policy process of advanced industrial democracies than in that of developing countries”. Analyze this quotation by comparing and contrasting the role of political parties in the policy process in two countries: Great Britain and one of the following: Nigeria (1979-1983) or India or Mexico.
7. “Although most countries have legislatures that formally make laws, real policy-making power usually lies elsewhere”. Evaluate this quote with reference to three countries: France, china, and one of the following - India or Mexico or Nigeria. In your essay, compare and contrast the location of policy-making powers in these countries and explain the reasons for any differences.
8. Regimes often face significant obstacles when attempting to implement political and/or economic reforms. Compare and contrast the obstacles to successful reform since 1975 in two countries: The former USSR and one of the following - India or Mexico or Nigeria. In your essay, be sure to analyze the most important sources of resistance to reform and the ways in which reformers have attempted to overcome these obstacles.
9. Compare and contrast the political power of executives and the restraints on the exercise of executive power in two countries: France and one of the following - India or Mexico or Nigeria. In your essay be sure to discuss the institutional and noninstitutional factors that enhance or limit the power of different executives.
10. Compare and contrast the political influence of business or labor interest groups in two countries: Great Britain and one of the following - India or Mexico or Nigeria. Your analysis should include the following: interest group links (if any) to political parties; the groups’ methods of attempting to influence government politics; and your assessment of how successful such groups are in affecting government policies.
11. Briefly explain the nature of reform in China and the Soviet Union after 1980. Describe important economic and political factors that facilitated or hindered these reforms. Provide specific examples in your answer.
12. Compare the impact of social class on contemporary politics in Great Britain and France. Your analysis should include a consideration of voting behavior, parties, and interest groups. Provide specific examples in your answer.
13. Nearly all contemporary countries acknowledge the importance of political participation, but in practice the level and forms of citizen involvement vary. Briefly describe various levels and forms of political participation in France and in China. Using specific examples, analyze the factors that promote and/or deter participation in these two countries.
14. “Political leaders with strength, vision, and skill can use their powers to shape their nation’s course”. Describe and compare the general factors that affect the impact of individual leadership on politics in Great Britain and the Soviet Union/Russian republic. Using specific examples, discuss the applicability or the quotation to political leaders and events since 1980 in these two countries.
15. Discuss three factors that contribute to political stability. Using these factors, analyze and compare the degree of political stability since 1980 in China and the Soviet Union/Russian Republic.
16. Despite the efforts of governments in France and Great Britain since 1980, both countries still have extensive welfare benefits following citizens from “cradle to grave”. Identify the components of and briefly explain the development of these programs. Discuss the political factors that contribute to or work against their durability.
17. Since the 1970’s, political problems arising from immigration and the assimilation of immigrants have become increasingly controversial in both Great Britain and France. Identify two specific problems common to both countries, then analyze and compare the effectiveness of the respective governments in responding to these problems.
18. Briefly describe the objectives and strategies of one protest movement that occurred in France, and one that occurred in China after 1960. Compare the state’s response to each movement in the respective countries. Based on your comparison, discuss two conditions that affect a protest movement’s chances of achieving political change.
19. Scholars have long argued about the impact of interest group politics on the channeling of political participation in democratic regimes. Develop an argument assessing the impact of interest group politics on both stability and effectiveness that supports or refutes this claim. In your answer, compare and contrast the British experience with interest groups with the French experience with such groups. Be sure to use two examples from each country.
20. Describe the powers and structures of the presidency and the legislature under the 1993 Russian constitution and compare them to those of their French counterparts under the Fifth Republic. In your response, assess whether these constitutional features have promoted both democracy and stability in each country.
21. Between 1980 and 1997, the Socialist Party in France and the Labour Party in Britain have each faced similar
challenges in the following areas: A. Electoral support B. Public policy
Identify and discuss one challenge in (a) that has been faced by both the Labour Party in Britain and the
Socialist Party in France.
Identify and discuss one challenge in (b) that has been faced by both the Labour Party in Britain and the
Socialist Party in France.
Compare and contrast each party's response to the two challenges you identified above.
22. All of the following factors are important for determining a country's rate of economic growth.
A. Degree of democratization B. Stability of governmental institutions C. Market Reform
Discuss the impact of each factor on economic growth during the 1990's both in China and in Russia.
FREE RESPONSE QUESTIONS FOCUSING ON A DEVELOPING NATION - ( 30 minute questions)
1. One of the major problems facing most third world countries is the need to defend the national economy against the challenges of a new economic “imperialism” from the more industrialized states. Select a third world country - India or Mexico or Nigeria and discuss how that country’s political leaders have attempted to cope with this challenge.
2. India’s population, now in excess of 800 million, is deeply divided along linguistic, ethnic, and religious lines. How do these characteristics of Indian society complicate the task of effective national government? In your answer be sure to give three specific examples of how these characteristics have impeded the efforts of national leaders to solve pressing problems.
3. Explain why the military has played a central role in Nigerian politics over the past 20 years.
4. Discuss the reasons for the PRI’s (Institutional Revolutionary Party) dominant position in Mexican politics. What are the consequences for Mexican politics of the recent erosion of the PRI’s dominant position?
5. Discuss the impact of European colonialism on contemporary politics in one of the following countries: India, Mexico or Nigeria. Provide specific examples in your essay.
6. Evaluate the ways in which the Indian constitution and party system manage religious and ethnic tensions. Provide specific examples in your answer.
7. Discuss the major political and institutional sources of political stability in Mexico. Provide specific examples in your answer.
8. Evaluate the ways in which federalism and political parties manage ethnic and religious tensions in Nigeria. Provide specific examples in your answer.
9. Many developing countries have patterned their formal political constitutions on those of established western democracies. Identify the western constitution that served as the model for India or Mexico or Nigeria. Discuss the changes that were made in applying an “imported” constitution in the context of this developing country.
10. Analyze the reasons for the loss of political dominance by India’s Congress party in the last two decades. Provide specific examples in your answer.
11. Civilians rather than the military have been dominant in contemporary Mexican politics. Discuss the factors that explain this pattern. Provide specific examples in your answer.
12. Analyze the forces that have affected the movement toward democratic politics in Nigeria since 1985. Provide specific examples in your answer.
13. “Political parties have had uncertain existence’s in developing nations”. Evaluate this statement with regard to the strength and role of parties in one of the following: India or Mexico or Nigeria.
14. Discuss two significant effects the caste system has had on Indian politics since 1970.
15. Discuss the ways in which Mexico’s international economic relations have affected its domestic politics since 1980.
16. Discuss the political and economic factors that explain the decline in Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) since 1980.
17. “Nations often adopt a mixture of authoritarian and democratic means of governance in order to address problems of development.” Evaluate the validity of the quotation above as it applies to the government of one of the following: India or Mexico or Nigeria.
18. Analyze how the resurgence of religious fundamentalism in India has affected political parties and the governments in power. Cite specific examples to illustrate your argument.
19. “Despite unsuccessful efforts on the part of Mexican governing elites to reduce enduring economic inequalities, the elites have still been able to secure political support from even the poorest citizens.” Evaluate this statement by analyzing two political efforts by Mexican governing elites to achieve political support through policies aimed at reducing economic inequality.
20. Explain why conducting the census in Nigeria is a controversial political issue. Your answer should focus on the major political implications of census results.
21. India, Mexico, and Nigeria have formal procedures for leadership transition. Identify and analyze a leadership transition that has occurred on ONE of these countries in the last 25 years. Your answer should include a description of the formal procedures for leadership transition and an analysis of two factors that contributed to the success or failure of the transition you have chosen.
22. Analyze the impact of poverty on the political development of India since independence. Your answer should focus on two aspects of Indian poverty and relate these to political development.
23. Although the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has long dominated Mexican politics, there are other political parties in the Mexican political system. Identify one of these other parties. Discuss its bases of electoral support and analyze the party’s functions in the political process.
24. “Federalism has been considered one solution to political tension in Nigeria since independence.”
If Nigeria were to move away from federalism toward a unitary system, what would be the impact on the process of national integration? Provide two arguments to support your thesis.
25. The political elite in most developing countries is composed of members of specific, well-established groups.
Using India or Mexico or Nigeria for your analysis, perform the following tasks.
A. Identify the primary group(s) from which members of the current political elite come.
26. "A proliferation of political parties will usually occur when a society divides according to linguistic, religious
and class loyalties." Discuss whether this applies to India since 1964. In your answer, be sure to discuss the
Congress Party and two other political parties in India.
27. The Mexican government has attempted to reform its electoral system to ensure both the participation of more
Parties and the representation of more diverse political interests. How successful has the government been in
Reforming its electoral system? In your answer, identify one reform, and discuss three factors that have
Contributed to the failure or success of this reform.
28. Identify and discuss the religious cleavages in Nigeria since 1980. Analyze the extent to which these cleavages
Affected each of the following aspects of the Nigerian political system. A. The legal system B. Military rule
New format for the 1999 test - 25 minute questions
1. The relationship between the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the British House of Commons is both similar to and different from the relationship between the Prime Minister of France and the French National Assembly. Identify and discuss two ways in which the relationships are similar and two ways in which the relationships are different.
In you discussion, do each of the following:
a. Describe one example of ethnic conflict in each country.
b. Identify one principal method used by India or Mexico or Nigeria and one principal method used by post-1991 Russia to resolve ethnic conflict.
c. Assess the impact of each government's response to ethnic conflict on political stability within the country.
3. Political legitimacy is an important dimension in governing. Identify three factors that contribute to the political legitimacy of a government. For the three factors you identified, discuss how each contributes to a government's legitimacy AND discuss how each has or has not contributed to the political legitimacy of the government of India or Mexico or Nigeria
FORMS OF INDUSTRIAL OWNERSHIP IN CHINA
0 - 10 - 20 - 30 - 40 - 50 - 60 - 70 - 80 - 90 - 100
0 - 10 - 20 - 30 - 40 - 50 - 60 - 70 - 80 - 90 - 100
% of Total
xxxxx equals State Ownership ***** equals Collective Ownership
//////// equals Individual Ownership ==== equals Other (e.g., foreign ownership)
(individual ownership did not exist
a. Identify two patterns shown in the graph above.
b. Describe one reform that has contributed to one pattern you identified and explain how it has contributed to the pattern.
c. Describe one reform that has contributed to the other pattern you identified and explain how it has contributed to the pattern.
d. Discuss one political consequence of one pattern you identified.
AP Comparative Questions from the 2000 test - All four questions required (25 minutes per question)
- Russia since 1993 -
- France since 1962 -
a. Identify and discuss two factors that affect elite recruitment in both China and one of the following: India or Mexico or Nigeria.
b. Is it easier to gain access into political elite membership in China or in one of the following: India or Mexico or Nigeria? Explain your answer, using the two factors you identified in (a) and your knowledge of the political systems of the countries.
change the constitutional structure of the United Kingdom. Identify and describe three of these proposals. For each of these proposals, discuss one problem it was designed to address.
- sustained and recurring national elections
- competitive political parties
- civilian control over the military
- an independent judiciary
a. Select two of the characteristics above and for each of these two characteristics, explain how it
contributes to democracy.
b. Has each characteristic you selected in (a) contributed to democracy in either India or Mexico
or Nigeria? Explain your answer.