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By Trevor Munroe

Crucial fabric for first-year scholars in social sciences and for the overall reader attracted to the fundamentals of up to date politics.

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Extra info for An Introduction to Politics: Lectures for First Year Students

Sample text

Informal politics, for instance, is characterized by the presence of decision making, and of conflict, but the absence of government. There is no formal parliament, nor ministers, but there is politics, for example, in the family, in a relationship, in an office, in church – all of which we would be unable to study as politics were we to accept the dictionary definition. The heart and soul of politics is not the prime minister or the electorate; these are part of the structure of national politics.

In democratic states, elections are relatively free and fair. One way of measuring whether elections are free and fair is the extent to which a state in its political history actually demonstrates that opposition parties do come to power by virtue of elections. Consider an example of a state that claimed to be democratic but in which for 50 years, there were “free and fair” elections in which the same party was elected over and over. Then you would want to look at that state again to see whether those elections were really free and fair.

Of course, these rights are relative, because in every state there are rules governing the exercise of these rights, such as the conduct of protests and demonstrations. In addition to these political rights there are civil liberties, such as liberties of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to believe what you wish (freedom of conscience). In a democratic state, political parties compete with each other and each has some reasonable prospect of winning the competition. However, the elected government is nevertheless limited in what it can do.

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