Lecture England 2

3. Parliamentary system: Fusion of power

        People elect Members of House of Commons
        Majority of MPs (commons) elect Prime Minister and his cabinet
            (people elect only one representative)
          Prime minister, cabinet members all have been elected as MPs
        So executive and legislative powers are "fused" together
                    (completely linked, integrated, with one base of legitimacy/voting)

        Contrast Separation of Power

            People elect executive and legislators (and sometimes judges)
            People elect several representatives, each can claim legitimacy
                Elected legislators can NOT serve in cabinet, must resign legislative post.
                (e.g.. Sec. of Defense Cohen)
            So executive and legislative powers are separate,
                (separate bases of legitimacy/voting).

            Note:   House of Lords, has little power, can delay and debate legislation.

                    Ultimately, it can not block legislation.

                    Historically, it was mainly hereditary.
                    Prime minister could appoint "Life Peers"
                    Nov. 1999 reforms: 92 Hereditaries, 544 Life Peers
                    New discussions:
                        Elect some of the lords?
                        Appointment by special commission?
4. The Prime Minister

    a. elected by majority of Parliament
    b. resigns if there is a vote of no confidence
    c. May dissolve parliament, call for new elections
    d. Must hold election within fixed time (5 yr. in England)

5. Party Systems

    a. If there two disciplined parties, one party has majority,
        Prime Minister is safe from vote of no confidence
          If the PM becomes unpopular, the Party may vote for a different leader
            Example:  Great Britain (incl. replacement of Thatcher)
        Opposition party provides "shadow cabinet," "shadow ministers"

    b. If there are several parties, a multi-party coalition is needed
        to elect a Prime Minister .

     Classic party distribution:
        No party has majority
        Many coalitions are possible

Communist 10
Socialist 15
Christian Trade Union 20
Green (environmental) party 5
Liberal Republicans 20
Farm Credit 10
Nationalist 10
Fascist 5
Monarchist 5

        Any coalition can break up, and the Prime Minister will fall

            Examples: Italy, Israel, France, Russia

    c. Party system is influenced by voting system
               Single Member District   (US, England)
               Proportional Representation (PR)
                     most of European continent, common elsewhere.
                       PR restored in Italy 2005 after it was dropped in 1993
                                       Italian system very unstable, parliament dissolved 2007,

                Adaptations to reduce tendencies towards instability:
                    Runnoff election to ensure winner has a majority (France)
                    Threshold requirement:
                        no party gets a seat in Parliament unless it has at least 5% of vote (Germany)

UK election 1979 (?)
PARTY % VOTE % SEATS (smd) % SEATS (pr)
Conservative 42 52 42
Labour 34 42 34
Liberal 18 3 18
Scottish Nationalists 2 1 2
Welsh Nationalists 1 0 1
North Irish 3 2 3

UK election 2005
working majority 

pressure towards 2 party system

stable government 

unfair to disbursed minorities

representation in proportion to electoral support

pressure to multi- party system

coalition governments, unstable

fair representation


        Because both SMD and PR have advantages and disadvantages
            many recent constitutions use both (Mexico, Japan, Russia)

6. Party Discipline in England, much of Europe
    Party controls nomination process (no primaries)
    Party funds candidates (no individual fund raising)
    Party controls careers of politicians
    People vote for party, not individual candidates

7. House of Commons is clearly the dominant House;
    House of Lords can introduce, debate and delay legislation; can not block laws

8. Unitary, centralized system.
    Regional and local administrators
    No elected local governments, local legislators, local courts, local taxes
    Central government controls local gov't (schools, police, etc.)

9. Highly professional, well educated, powerful bureaucracy.
    (often trained at Oxford or Cambridge -- Ox-bridge)

English Parliamentary democracy US Presidential democracy
Majority can carry out its mandate 
  No obstacles, no excuses
Minorities can block government by 
  Obstructing in one house 
  Judicial challenge 
  bend implementation 
  contrary state laws
Ruling party is responsible for results ruling party blames others for problems
People vote for clear choice People vote for many  representatives, 
have many other opportunities for inputs
Democracy to do things Democracy to stop tyrannical government


10. Examples of Multi-Party Coalitions in other countries of Europe

Sweden election Sept 2006, 7 parties win seats.

Although Social Democrats win the most seats, they don't have a majority and can't form a coalition with other parties.  A Center-Right coalition forms of four parties and puts together a new government.  See: 1 | 2

party #seats %seats gov't
Social Democrats SDP 130 37
Moderate 27 28 **
Center Party  29 8 *
Liberal People's Party 28 8 *
Christian Democratic Party 24 7 *
Left Party 22  6
Green 19 5

Germany election Sept 2005, 5 parties win seats

party #seats %seats gov't
Christian Democrats CDP 225 37 *
Social Democrats SDP 222 36 **
Free Democrats FDP 61 10
Left Party 54 9
Greens  51 8

French Elections, June 16, 2002

Party #seats %seats gov't
Union for the Presidential Majority 357 62 *
Union for French Democracy 29 5 *
Misc. Right-wing 8 1 *
Movement for France 1 <1 *
Liberal Democracy 2 <1 *
Rally for France 2 <1 *
Socialist Party 141 24
French Communist Party 21 4
Greens 3 1
Left Radical Party 7 1
Misc Left-wing Parties 6 1

Italy Elections, April 9, 10, 2006

Party #seats % seats gov't
Olive Tree   incl Democrats of the left
                         Daisy-Democracy is Freedom
                         European Republican Movement
220 35 *
Communist Refondation Party 41 7 *
Rose in Fist, incl: Italian Democratic Socialists
                           Italian Radicals
18 3 *
Party of Italian Communists 16 3 *
Italy of Values 17 3 *
Federation of Greens 15 2 *
Popular UDEUR 10 2 *
Soth Tyrolean People's Party 4 1 *
Autonomy 1 <1 *
The Union 6 1 *
Forza Italia 140 22
National Alliance  71 11
Union of Christian and Cener Democrats 39 6
Northern League-Movement for Autonomy 26 4
Christian Democracy-New Socialist Party 4 1
Italy in the World with Tremaglia 1 <1
Italian Association in South America 1 <1
This election/coalition was unstable and fell after 9 months: Italy goverment falls
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