Western Political Systems

Published 13 Mar 2017

The development of the western political system had strong influence from the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Greek and roman philosophies and kind of governance had an immense impact on the development of democracy in the western world. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato and Socrates gave the concepts of natural rights and the logical establishment of laws; which is evident in the western political system where laws are clearly stated and submitted for voting. Democracy as practiced in the western political system is defined according to the Encarta dictionary as the free and equal right of every person to participate in a system of government, often practiced by electing representatives of the people by the majority of the people. This system of government was passed from the ancient Romans and Greeks to the Americans, Belgians, Dutch, English, and Germans etc.

An example of the spread of democracy can be cited in the case of England. For centuries, a monarch, who was often unfair and unjust, had ruled England. Finally, after a civil war the parliament was able to limit the power of the monarch and establish a healthy relationship between the government and the people. This idea of a power check prompted remembrance of the roman government and how it operated on a three-branch system. The United States of America also practiced democracy as far back as the 17th century (Rao, 2006).

The kind of political system practiced in the eastern part of the world had been based on lineages, military power and witnessed regimes that were despotic and authoritarian in nature as opposed to the western political system. In the monarchy system of government, one person is the monarch (usually a king or queen, and in other cases emperor or empress). When the monarch dies, power passes to one of the monarch’s children and in the event that there is no child the mantle of leadership passes to another family member and this is what was practiced in most parts of the eastern world for most part of their political history. China, for instance practiced this system of government. Dynasties after dynasties ruled in china; from the Shang dynasty (1583BC-1027BC) up to the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), these groups of monarchs had mostly ruled china (Rao, 2006). Countries like Afghanistan, Japan, Nepal, Thailand and the likes at some point in time also practiced this form of government. Also, this same region witnessed leaders who seized power; an example is the republic army that overthrew the Qing dynasty in the 1911 revolution and when Mao Zedong seized power in 1949(Rogaski, 2007).

The various political systems have their benefits and their detriments. The democratic system is beneficial in the sense that as it is based on election, the voice of the people is heard and the wishes of the people could be easily granted by this system. In addition, the people are guaranteed participation in the process of electing their representatives. The detriments of this system are that, since it is the citizens who can elect representatives not all citizens are fully aware of the political scenarios in their country. This may result in people making the wrong decisions during elections. Also, since it is a short-term government, there might not be a clear-cut long-term policy plan for the community they rule (this is familiar with selfish governments and ones without foresight). The cost of political campaigns in democracies may mean that the rich are favored by the system, this scenario cause candidates to strike out deals with wealthy supporters; hence, offering them favorable legislation if the candidate is elected.

The eastern political system also has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of the eastern political system (the military and monarchy system of government) are that the monopolization of resources gives them great potential power. Secondly, there is quick and effective response following an imminent war. Thirdly, provided the ruler has a focus they have long-term plans for the community they rule. The disadvantage of this system is that it usually lacks legitimacy (especially the military). In addition, the process of governance is frequently concealed and controlled; interests are mobilized to support the government rather than the government responding to public interests.

Conclusively, the western political system has been greatly influenced by the Greek and roman governments; they introduced the separation of powers, laws and ordinances and the senate. In addition, they introduced the idea of natural rights, the right to vote and be voted into office. The eastern political systems on the other hand witnessed authoritarian, despotic regimes and were ruled by monarchs and leaders who seized power after revolt as in countries like North Korea and China in the early 20th century. The various systems as previously written have their benefits and detriments. However, comparing the two it can be concluded extensively that the western political system is preferable since it affords equal participation and representation.


  • Rao, B. V. (2006). World History. New Delhi: Sterling publishers.
  • Rogaski, R. (2007). “Mao Zedong.” Microsoft Student 2008 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation.
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