Category Archives: United States Presidential System

In Praise of Indirect Democracy

We like to think that we elect governments – and most parties encourage this view with national campaigning, leaders’ debates and an emphasis on party discipline.

But we actually elect representatives to form a Parliament. It is members of that Parliament that vote to support a government and they decide issues rather than us. In that respect our democracy is “indirect”.

We are being progressively encouraged to think that more “direct” democracy is “better”. Witness the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners and the push for directly elected mayors.

I think this is wrong and that, for reasons of coherence and accommodating diversity, indirect democracy has a lot going for it.

This is particularly so as we face a potentially complicated hung parliament. This means that we are unlikely to have a government with a clear parliamentary majority – we will not have “elected a government”. So it will be up to our MPs, as a Parliament, to decide who forms the executive. This requires them to act as parliamentarians not as party hacks wedded to a series of “red-line promises”, “manifesto pledges” and “policy millstones”.

Continue reading

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Choosing Political Systems

What do the results of:

  • Mayoral Referenda earlier this year that rejected the concept of mayors in all places asked other than Bristol
  • The Referendum yesterday in Hartlepool  that voted to get rid of their elected mayor in favour of a committee system.
  • The low turnout in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections yesterday (In Cleveland – where there have been problems with the Police Authority – it was a magnificent 14.7%)

have in common?

They all reflect a rejection of figure-head politics in favour of a representative politics. A rejection I welcome. Continue reading

Worrying about the US & Elections in general

As we approach the US elections (tomorrow), I wonder what will decide it.

Who is the candidate best able to lead the USA (in the view of Americans – taking a wide view)?

Or:

  • Who wins the Electoral College?
  • Who wins the court battles?
  • Who wins the advertising war (a function of funding)?
  • Who wins the media battle where the media is deregulated and in places highly partisan?
  • Who is unable to vote because of last-minute “found” irregularities in their registration?
  • Who is unable to vote because voting out of working hours has been restricted?
  • Whose vote is not counted because the voting machine in certain districts did not properly cut out their chad?
  • Who is unable to vote because post-Sandy, there is no power for voting machines or polling stations are closed or moved?
  • Who is unable to vote because post-Sandy, they have more vital things to do?

Is this the best way to decide who leads the USA and, by definition, the Western World? Continue reading

Electoral Colleges

Watching the run up to the US Presidential Election reminds me of the dangers of electoral colleges.

It’s all about the so-called swing states, or battleground states, because much of the US is heavily Democrat or Republican, and therefore unlikely to change hands.

But that is also in effect what we have in the UK. Continue reading

The US Election and Tuition Fees

I have been pondering on the nature of our government and legislature following the US mid-term elections and the announcement in the UK of the increase in University Tuition Fees (something that the Liberal Democrat members of the Coalition pledged not to do). Curiously I find the two events linked and have implications for how we should conduct future elections. Continue reading