Britain vs. Russia Comparative Essay
In the course of history, many philanthropists and great political thinkers had assessed the value of good governance and apt policy-making processes for a country to achieve its goals. We have witnessed, experienced or observed countries that had successfully contributed to one country’s political achievement in the history of the world. Many of the first world countries had attributed its current stance in the world because of their great leaders and effective governance of society that is characterized with differences in almost all aspects. From our history, we know that leaders are dominant in bringing their country to the present state.
Their effectiveness in showing their and commitment to serve their country is an absolute defiance of their legacy. But what exactly do they aspire for? What contributes to a country’s success? Aside from leaders, are there other key players in the process of achieving a country’s goals? What role are policies and the manner by which a country is governed affects its nature of success? Through this effort to discern the history of these achievements, we look into the history of two countries which exhibited growth politically, socially, economically and such.
Britain and Russia will be evaluated to determine what makes their government effective in their own right in maintaining a stable and first world country that almost all admired. These two countries will be examined by the different political institutions they have and the policy-making processes they adapt in able to cope up with the demands of governing a country. More importantly, we shall be able to asses the differences between these two countries and how they manage to govern their societies. Brief History of Two Countries
Britain, part of the vast European continent had emerged as one of the first world countries since the early centuries. The country which started out as a monarchy state evolved into a political institution that aimed to integrate into a single common government that had effective policies. In lieu with this, we shall first determine the history of Britain as a political institution. Britain is characterized with a Parliament political institution. It was a form of government developed over a hundred of years and during the early centuries; the country was ruled by two different Houses, the Commons and Lords.
With this development, there was a shift of equal possession of power between the Parliament and the monarchy that had changed the country drastically. Parliament as a political system originated in the 12th century when King’s councils were held which includes barons and archbishops. Their main concern at that time was regarding taxation of the people and judgments. But over a period of time, the role has changed into a formal one that had knights representing each country. This started the emergence of the House of Commons in the Parliament.
The term “Parliament” was used during the early century to describe the meetings held by the House of Commons. The Parliament has the essential role in scrutinizing the work done by the government. This involves rigorous debates, essential inquiries and other processes by which it could examine the extent to which they can challenge the government. It also has the responsibility of the legislative role. This process was seen very effective because at most times, the civil society was taken aback by the lack of good governance from the monarch institution. There arose the need for another political institution to govern the country.
The Parliamentary system holds the majority constitutional power to exercise its role in the society and was perceived to have made the monarchy as a symbolic political institution rather than the traditional stance it used to hold. Russia had been ruled by dictators for more than hundreds of years. in the 1980’s however, Mikhail Gorbachev committed its leadership in political reforms that aims to allow competitive elections, liberalization of the press, the conception of political parties to challenge different political ideals and the ascendance of a civil society.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, it was evident that Russia was taking a more independent role in pro-democratic political institutions through various reforms. Russia is torn between the transitory periods of dictatorship to democracy. The initial step to become a democratic country was initiated by Gorbachev, eventually; Russian President Boris Yeltsin held this idea in his leadership. But the step taken was taken was challenged gravely by the political institution itself that was not used to the independence these two presidents were trying to achieve.
Until, Vladimir Putin, the incumbent President constitutes this initiative and desired a more aggressive role towards independence of Russia and democracy. Putin was very influential and was perceived as a political maverick of Yeltsin. he was even perceived as both the continuity and change of Yeltsin’s leadership. Putin was very much like the past Russia but definitely has the intention to break from it. In his leadership, Russia underwent dramatically transformation.
A proof of a pragmatic manager, he was able to tame the Russian elite and arrogant tycoons, supported the economic reforms of started by Yeltsin and has a pro-Western stance in his policies. This had greatly affected his role as a leader who would open Russia to the world and to the ideas of democracy. However, there still remains his distrust of the major democratic institutions and is very much concerned over taking control of the society. To sum up his style, Putin is an authoritarian that incorporates his economic liberalistic ideals that aims to define Russia as pro-democratic in the modern society. The Difference in Governance
In determining what these two countries share and differ may be attributed not only because of the countries geographical differences but also in their own respective culture. In an article written by Heintz (2007), during the young succession of Putin as Russian president, he met with Tony Blair, then Prime Minister of Britain, in Moscow. The meeting was deemed as a starting point of a very good relationship between the two countries. But this never did occur. Both countries are addressing how the other had disrespected or misunderstood the other. The first thing we determine is the difference between their government traditions.
Britain, being a Western nation with a long democratic tradition contradicts the attitude of Russia which for so long has shown discomfort on the idea of democracy and had a long deep suspicion of the West’ interest and motive. In present time, Britain maintains its commitment to exercise democracy while Russia is opening itself up, making efforts to reach out to the West with some form of common ground. At one point during the War on Terror staged by the United States, Britain and Russia staged an alliance to fight and condemned the proponents of the mass murder and provide tougher measures against Iraq.
Let us discern the concrete comparison between the two countries through the event that signified how different they are. As an example, the war in Iraq greatly affected the relationship of the two and provides a great scope of the two countries comparison. At one point, Russia denounced the beginning of the Iraq war; Russia resented Britain for granting asylum to Putin’s opponent Berezovsky. Britain on the other hand encouraged the so-called “color revolutions” in Georgia and Ukraine that disrespected Russia and was seen as an undermining effort to Putin’s regime.
Russia went further by accusing Britain of spying and funding Kremlin-critical organizations. To add more to the tension between these two countries, one former Russian agent named Alexander Litvinenko was found to be dead due to poisoning in London. All these accounts show the difference in political traditions of both countries. Russia, being used to the dictatorship and superiority of political leaders throughout its history greatly puts emphasis on their leaders’ credibility. Without any question and unruly remark, the leader is chosen because of his wisdom and effective governance.
Russia is described as very suspicious of other people, especially with other countries because of its great desire to protect their own country. Then PM Blair had made his efforts to reconcile with Russia, but with the new governance of PM Brown, a new issue arises as he expelled four Russian diplomats as retaliation to Russia’s refusal to extradite the suspected murderer of Litvinenko. Political analysts see this situation as a recurrence of many other grievances brought out by both countries.
Russia, being very decisive and strong against its opponents, do make necessary actions to make their enemies pay, or even be accountable to whatever bad reputation or any bad image it had generated. CONCLUSION: Both Britain and Russia certainly have their distinct character in their own political institutions. While Britain maintained their distinction between the two houses, representing the Parliamentary system and the monarch authority, they have yet to settle their difference in ideas and political attitudes through the debates held by the Parliamentary body only.
We realize now that the monarchy basically becomes a symbolic political institution and does not have any active role in the governance. Maybe that is the reason why the country had achieved success or maybe it is the cause of many of its downfall. In Russia however, the situations concerns the political idealism and form itself. For many years, the country was led by dictators. In recent years, after the abolishment of the USSR and the attempt to democratize the country, somehow the situation becomes difficult for the leaders themselves.
As they try to liberalize their ideas and give freedom to their people, the past traditional political institutions they had adhered to comes to haunt them and cast shadow in their country. While many political, social and cultural reforms aimed to address the goal to become a democratic country, the current leader is perceived to be just continuing the past and not really disowning the authoritarian government Russia was accustomed to. As mentioned, this can be deemed as either a threat or a benefit for the civil society.
Maybe in the end, history can only distinguish which country is better, but today, we must look into their different situation and realize that both Britain and Russia had become successful and considered as one of the first world nations because of the efficacy of their governments and implementation of political idealisms. In all these analysis between the two countries, one very significant comparison that can be made is that Russia is very aggressive and very driven to protect their own county’s interest.
They do not care about other countries or Britain in particular because they know their strength as a country. Suspicions on the Russian part and the tremendous affect the dictatorship method of political ruling in Russia had gravely affected their ability to trust other nationalities and form foreign relationships with their neighboring countries. To that, Britain’s democratic and optimistic political institution can not jive with.
The sense of commonality and agreement between the two political institutions differs gravely in history and experience, thus having the future of these two countries in sound relationship may seem a little distant for now. Reference: 1. Shevtsova, Lilia (2003), Putin’s Russia, Washington D. C: Carnegie Endowment fro International Peace 2. Shevtsova, Lilia (2006), Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions, Volume 8, Issue 4, Carnegie Russia 3. Heintz, Jim (2007), Russia-Britain relations reach low point, Associated Press