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There is no real separation of legislative and executive in Parliamentary systems.

The way if works is that the parliament is elected for a fixed term, and they appoint a head of government from their own ranks. The head of government can dissolve the parliament ahead of time, and they can also resign or be voted out with a motion of no confidence, in which case a new head of government needs to be appointed. If the parliament cannot or will not appoint a new headof government there is a new election.

As Labour has an absolute majority of the House of Commons, Brown's appointment should be a formality. He's widely expected to call an election next year, one year earlier than expected and two years ahead of the end of the 5-year term.

In more proportional systems with multiple parties and coalition governments if the government fails usually a newcoalition cannot be assembled and a new election is called. But this has not been the case with Balkenende in the Netherlands during the previous term. He had several cabinets with changing coalitions without having to call an election because he was always able to assemble a new coalition. Also, recall the Czech parliament took several months to get a prime minister who could pass an investiture vote because the parliament was split exactly 50/50.

It's not like the US constitution, but it's not wrong.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 03:32:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't saying it was wrong, I was trying to figure out how it was democratic.  And I mean that sincerely, not rhetorically.

Do you think there is a much more distinct difference between parties in the UK than in the US, and that those who represent them stick to a clear platform?  Is there as broad a spectrum in the Labour party as there is in the Dem. party in the US (from Kucinich & Welstone to Lieberman & Casey)?  Could 2 individuals from the same party have very different platforms?  And if so, how do the people ensure the leader they get upholds the values of the majority and not that of some opportunistic wing of the ruling party?


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 03:47:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then you could tone down your rhetoric a bit.

The UK has a First-Past-the-Post system like the US, so the system tends naturally towards a two-party system as in the US. However, in the UK there is a sizeable third party at the national level (the Liberal Democrats) and a number of regional parties such as the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalist), and Sinn Fein (Irish Nationalist) which are able to win seats by using their local strength. And there's also the Green party

I think the differences between Labour and the Tories have been largely diluted at the national level because of the poll-driven chase of the political centre that all Western democracies seem to have embarked in. In countries with proportional representation you see less of this, with the largest two parties engaging in this game but the rest of the parties stake out more well-defined platforms.

The introduction of Proportional Representation in regional (and European) elections has helped "third parties" in the UK, too, so I think people who differ too much from the party line just split and form a different party. For instance, the UK Independence Party seems like the rabidly anti-EU wing of the Tories. But bth the Tories and Labour have (at the level of national leadership) strayed to far from their core constituency and have left a huge number of disaffected supporters.

how do the people ensure the leader they get upholds the values of the majority and not that of some opportunistic wing of the ruling party?

I don't think that is a problem plaguing most western democracies right now. The thing is, if one of the two main parties has a leader that seems more opportunistic, it's likely they'll lose the swing voters in the centre. I think that's ultimately what's going to hurt David Cameron. He's even more opportunistic than Brown or Blair have ever been.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 03:59:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then you could tone down your rhetoric a bit.

I don't know what you are talking about and this conversation is ending here.  I have no place for unecessary nastiness in my life right now.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 04:29:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm talking about you being shocked, shocked every time something about the political process is not like you're used to. It seems to recur every few months and you always end up being offended.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 04:32:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to say I didn't see the outrage in poemless's posts. Looked more like a "dude, how's that work?"
by Number 6 on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 07:16:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US national political parties have structurally been coalitions of state political parties ... and with the US anti-parliamentary system of balance of powers, which entails in part no party loyalty in the legislature required for the Majority party to retain its status as the party in charge of the executive, there is by design more independence for members of Congress from the national party apparatus than for MP's in a parliamentary system.

Indeed, if everything had gone according to the intentions of the Founding Fathers, a party system would not have arisen at all, but at least there are limitations on the institutional power of political parties in the US system.

The parliamentary system in Australia is, in part, an effort to meld parts of each system, with half of each state's Senate delegation elected in each Senate election, acting as a genuine Balance of Power institution against the party in power in the Australian House of Representatives ... provided that the governing party does not also hold the balance of power in the Senate. The recent experience in Australia of working without a check on the actions of the governing party seems likely to restore a position with a third party ... probably the Australian Greens ... with the balance of power.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 30th, 2007 at 12:32:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The mechanics of PM appointments in the UK are somewhat different from those in countries with written constitutions. See wikipedia
There is no term of office for a prime minister. The prime minister holds office "at Her Majesty's pleasure". As however to gain supply (control of exchequer funds) that requires that the government be answerable to, and acceptable to, the House of Commons, in reality the convention "at her Majesty's pleasure" means "at the pleasure of the House of Commons". Whenever the office of Prime Minister falls vacant, the Sovereign is responsible for appointing the new incumbent; the appointment is formalised at a ceremony known as Kissing Hands. In accordance with unwritten constitutional conventions, the Sovereign must appoint the individual most likely to maintain the support of the House of Commons: usually, the leader of the party which has a majority in that House. If no party has a majority (an unlikely occurrence, given the United Kingdom's First Past the Post electoral system), two or more groups may form a coalition, whose agreed leader is then appointed Prime Minister. The majority party becomes "Her Majesty's Government," and the next largest party becomes "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition." The head of the largest Opposition party becomes the Leader of the Opposition and holds the title Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. By tradition, before a new Prime Minister can enter 10 Downing Street for the first time as its occupant, he or she is required to announce to the country and the world that he or she has kissed hands with the monarch of the day, and thus has become Prime Minister. This is usually done by saying words to the effect of:
"Her Majesty the Queen [His Majesty the King] has asked me to form an administration and I have accepted."
Although it wasn't required, Tony Blair also said these words after he was re-elected in 2001 and 2005.


Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 06:21:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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