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Portal:Politics

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Introduction

Politics (from Greek: πολιτικά, translit. Politiká, meaning "affairs of the cities") is the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group.

It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community, particularly a state. The academic study focusing on just politics, which is therefore more targeted than all Political science, is sometimes referred to as Politology (not to be confused with Politicology).

In modern nation-states, people have formed political parties to represent their ideas. They agree to take the same position on many issues and agree to support the same changes to law and the same leaders.

An election is usually a competition between different parties. Some examples of political parties worldwide are: the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, the Conservatives in the United Kingdom, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Germany and the Indian National Congress in India.

Politics is a multifaceted word. It has a set of fairly specific meanings that are descriptive and nonjudgmental (such as "the art or science of government" and "political principles"), but often does carry a connotation of dishonest malpractice. The word has been used negatively for many years: the British national anthem as published in 1745 calls on God to "Confound their politics", and the phrase "play politics", for example, has been in use since at least 1853, when abolitionist Wendell Phillips declared: "We do not play politics; anti-slavery is no half-jest with us."

A variety of methods are deployed in politics, which include promoting one's own political views among people, negotiation with other political subjects, making laws, and exercising force, including warfare against adversaries. Politics is exercised on a wide range of social levels, from clans and tribes of traditional societies, through modern local governments, companies and institutions up to sovereign states, to the international level.

It is very often said that politics is about power. A political system is a framework which defines acceptable political methods within a given society. The history of political thought can be traced back to early antiquity, with seminal works such as Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics and the works of Confucius.

Selected article

Flag of the Central African Republic

The Saint-Sylvestre coup d'état was a coup d'état staged by Jean-Bédel Bokassa, leader of the Central African Republic army, and his military officers against the government of President David Dacko on 31 December 1965 and 1 January 1966. Dacko was aware that Bokassa had made plans to take over his government, and countered by forming the gendarmerie headed by Jean Izamo. Bokassa and his men started the coup on New Year's Eve in 1965 by first capturing Izamo and locking him in a cellar at Camp de Roux. They then occupied the capital, Bangui, and overpowered the gendarmerie and other resistance. After midnight, Dacko was arrested and forced to resign from office and then imprisoned at Camp Kassaï. According to official reports, eight people died while resisting the coup. Izamo was tortured to death within a month, but Dacko's life was spared due to foreign intervention. Soon after the coup, Bokassa dissolved the National Assembly, abolished the Constitution and issued a number of decrees, banning begging, female circumcision, and polygamy, among other things. Bokassa initially struggled to obtain international recognition for his regime, but the new government eventually obtained recognition from other African nations.

Featured picture

Parliament House, Canberra, Pano jjron 25.9.2008-edit1.jpg
Credit: John O'Neill

Parliament House is the meeting facility of the Parliament of Australia located in Canberra, the capital of Australia. The building was designed by Mitchell/Giurgola Architects and opened on 9 May 1988 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia. At the time of the construction, it was the most expensive building in the world at more than A$1.1 billion.

Selected quote

James Madison
But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public. We see it particularly displayed in all the subordinate distributions of power, where the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other—that the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights. These inventions of prudence cannot be less requisite in the distribution of the supreme powers of the State.

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Selected biography

George I, King of the Hellenes

George I of Greece was King of Greece from 1863 to 1913. Originally a Danish prince, when only 17 years old he was elected King by the Greek National Assembly, which had deposed the former King Otto. His nomination was suggested and supported by the three Great Powers (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Second French Empire and the Russian Empire). As the first monarch of the new Greek dynasty, his 50-year reign (the longest in modern Greek history) was characterized by territorial gains as Greece established its place in pre-World War I Europe. Two weeks short of the fiftieth anniversary of his accession, and during the First Balkan War, he was assassinated. In sharp contrast to his reign, the reigns of his successors would prove short and insecure.

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