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5 Political organization

of societies

1. Overview
Political geography is the field of human geography that is concerned with the study of the
organization of society in space. The state has been traditionally the basic organization of
The traditional state is characterised by its economic, political and cultural sovereignty. This
sovereignty can be exercised democratically or non-democratically.
States grant part of their sovereignty to entities above the state (supranational entities), such
as the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or the European Union. Some competences
are also transfered locally to entities below the state (substate entities) such as towns,
counties, or what we call in Spain “Autonomous Communities”.

2. Sovereign State

a. Concept
b. Elements
c. Functions
d. The administration

3. Forms of government

a. Democracy


 Political Parties A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to attain and maintain political power within government.1 Concept The term derives from the Greek words “demos” people and “cratia” power. For elections to be democratic they must be: Free: all the citizens can be candidates. legislative. usually by participating in electoral campaigns. belief. the government in which supreme power is vested in the people Democracy is a political government carried out either directly by the people (direct democracy) or by means of elected representatives of the people (Representative democracy).  Elections An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses their representatives to hold public office. Carried out by universal suffrage: the right to vote is not restricted by race. a. wealth or social status. and judicial powers of a government. a. Parties express their ideology or vision in a written platform or manifesto consiting of a list of the actions which a political party supports in order to appeal to the general public for the purpose of having said party's candidates voted into office.  Separation of Powers It the principle or system of vesting in separate branches the executive. democracy is defined as .2 Elements  Referendum A referendum (also known as a plebiscite or a ballot question) is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. It is therefore a yes/no question. Plural: they must offer several options. Thus. 2 . gender.

Types of democratic states We will consider three types of modalities: A. For example. Legislative function: The parliament makes and votes the laws. Liberal states refers to political systems in which there are attempts to: • defend and increase civil liberties. Judiciary function: interpret laws. Belgium. In addition to enacting laws. Controls the executive power. Constitutional Monarchy and Constitutional Republic A constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution. The executive is identified by the Head of Government. legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise taxes and adopt the budget. The head of the state is the President of the Republic. • there is no central planning authority but the prices are decided by the demand- supply scale. higher demand for certain goods and services lead to higher prices and lower demand for certain goods lead to lower prices. and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over citizens. Sweeden. 3 . the Netherlands are examples of constitutional monarchies. B. 4. have a directly or indirectly elected prime minister who is the head of government and exercises effective political power. Examples of constitutional republics are France. Theoretically in democratic states there is a separation of powers so that one institution does not have all the the name of the sovereign or state. Decides the political priorities of the government. Thus. The government of the state is in the hands of the President of the government or Prime Minister. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes. Liberal and social states Liberal derives from Latin liber. depending on the constitution. in practice very often these powers are fused since they are controlled by the same political party. Italy and Austria. "free”. Executive function: The government enforces laws. In Europe the United Kingdom. However. A constitutional republic is a state where the head of state and other officials are elected as representatives of the people. Their position is hereditary Most constitutional monarchies employ a parliamentary system in which the Monarch may have strictly Ceremonial duties or may have Reserve Powers.

Dictatorship form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations and often without consent of those being governed. C. In an absolute monarchy. • Government regulation of the market. political and intellectual freedom of citizens against the intrusion of governments. 4 . hereditary and marital. This type of government works best in a small nation. • This reform is in order to achieve a welfare state. 5. • develop a society open to talent and which rewards citizens on merit. • question the demands made by vested interest groups seeking special privileges. rather than on rank. where a small government would be more efficent. Centralised and decentralised states A centralized government puts all power and responsibility in the hands of one person. Germany with its organization in Länders (states) is an example of decentralised state. the monarch’s authority is not legally bound or restricted by a constitution. Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government where the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government. Types of non democratic states There are states in which the power is exercised by one person or group. institutions and powerful forces in society. Examples are Saudi Arabia and Oman. (France and Poland) A decentralized government spreads the responsibility and power among more people. thus exerting political power over the sovereign state and its subject peoples. the transmission of power is two-fold. • increase religious. and various state sponsored programs to ameliorate and remove the inequities and injustices inflicted by the capitalist market system. as absolute governor. privilege or status • frame rules that maximise the well-being of all or most citizens The goal of social democracy is to reform capitalism through parliamentary and democratic processes.

however. hereditary dictatorship has become a common phenomenon. 6. A non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit. persons or organizations for the benefit of another. These organizations include: Supranational Organizations (SNOs) and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). NGOs exist for a variety of reasons. national or international levelnwith no participation or representation of any government. foundation. trust ( a relationship whereby property is managed by one person . terror. charities (charitable organization). A. Examples include improving the state of the natural environment. Examples are frecuent in Latin America.Organizations above and below the state As we mentioned at the begining of the unit. encouraging the observance of human rights. Modern dictators. and the suppression of basic. voluntary citizens' group which is organized on a local. Nowadays there are organizations that limit the states' power. Dictators usually resort to force or fraud to gain despotic political power. the NGO maintains its non-governmental status by excluding government representatives from membership in the organization. Legally NGOs may take different forms depending on the coutry's laws. In the cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments. nation-states are less independent and sovereign than they were in former times. In the twentieth century. usually to further the political or social goals of their members or funders. or representing a corporate agenda. Totalitarianism describes a state that regulates nearly every aspect of public and private behavior of the people. resemble ancient tyrants rather than ancient dictators. Today. Examples found worldwide are: voluntary association. which they maintain through the use of intimidation. Africa and Asia. The term dictatorship comes from the Latin title dictator. 5 . However. improving the welfare of the disadvantaged. Ancient philosophers’ descriptions of the tyrannies of Greece and Sicily go far toward characterizing modern dictatorships. there are a huge number of such organizations and their goals cover a broad range of political and philosophical positions. which in the Roman Republic designated a temporary magistrate who was granted extraordinary powers in order to deal with state crises.