BOOK REVIEW: Comparative Political Systems (Bangladesh, Dhaka: Century Publications, 2019)

 

Emdadul Haq: Professor & Chair: Department of General & Continuing Education (GCE), North South University, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2010 – till to date

Comparative Political Systems, Bangladesh, Dhaka: Century Publications, 2019

xiii+258 pp., 499 Taka, ISBN#978-984-34-5824-7

 

Reviewed by: Saleh Shahriar, Ph.D.    19 September 2020

According to Aristotle who engaged in the earliest comparative methods in politics argued that human beings are comparative by nature. In a recent article,  P.C. Schmitter (2016) in the Chinese Political Science Review 1(3) argued that comparison is a powerful and probably the ‘best analytic method’ for advancing valid and cumulative knowledge about politics. However, Dr. Haq’s one of the previous books, entitled, Drugs in South Asia (London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2000) drew the attention of the global scholarly community for its significant contributions to a deeper understanding of the politics of narcotic drugs.

In his book, Comparative Political Systems Dr. M. Emdadul Haq’s undertakes an analysis of comparative political systems. The book is a compilation of his lectures that as a scholar of political science Dr. Huq delivered to his undergraduate students over the last several decades. The purpose of the book is to assist in helping both students and faculty members to learn dominant theoretical paradigms, debates, and practices that influence the political systems of both developed and developing countries. In this book, he argues that even though democratic governance is one of the most desirable forms of governing of societies, there have been setbacks in the functioning of democracy globally, these days.

The book is divided into nine chapters. The first four chapters engage in discussing concepts, definitions, approaches, and theories. These discussions constitute the core conceptual and theoretical section of the book. Readers will, therefore, get important insights into the theoretical precepts of politics and political systems from these four chapters and these discussions include, among other things, major political theories and ideological frameworks including the divine rights, liberalism, pluralism, elitism, Marxism, feminism, communication theory, rational choice theory, game theory, political Islam, etc. and with links to the evolving political experiences of the South Asian countries in general and Bangladesh in particular. As a result, the readers are expected to get the real flavor of their own socio-cultural and political environments.

The American, British, French, Indian, and Bangladeshi political systems are analyzed in the second half of the book. These five chapters empirically examine the institutional arrangements of the modern political systems, outlining their key features, including the constitutional practices, electoral systems, political parties, interest groups, social movements, legislatures, bureaucracy, judiciary, and governance.

The closing chapter deals broadly with the historical and political narratives of the Bangladesh polity.

All of the chapters are impressive, convincingly argumentative, and insightful. Nevertheless, in my reading, the last chapter that portrays Bangladesh politics is more interesting, because the author has presented a succinct overview of the country’s political history and also made some intriguing arguments. First, the author argues that Bangladesh has a legacy of the supremacy of the chief executive leading to the perpetual presence of ‘executive absolutism’ (p.215). As a result, the parliamentary committees are ineffective, and consequently, the parliaments remain dysfunctional. Second, the military rulers ruined the institutional foundations of a parliamentary democratic system. The ‘1/11’ episode is a case in perspective (pp.,209-229).

With regard to electoral dishonesty, the author observes, ‘Almost in every election, be it local or national, a sizable number of candidates allegedly received selection after paying a large amount of money to the party stalwarts’ (p.235) revealing the endemic nature of corruption of the electoral process of Bangladesh. The electoral malpractice is thus quite alarming! All in all, the author has made us well informed of the political economy of Bangladesh politics.

The book contains colorful pictures and figures (pp.243-258).

However, the book has a weakness; there is no index. The author could have inserted an index at the end of the book.

All in all, the book is well-written, informative, and thought-provoking. Each chapter contains a list of references and questions for solving.

The book is an important addition to the study of comparative politics.

 

Reviewer: Saleh Shahriar holds a Ph.D. in Economics and Management from the Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China., Email: shahriar.tib@gmail.com

 

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