Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Britain and Canada, Thoughts?

Don’t want anyone to forget, Britain has election on May 5. We’ll all be celebrating on Thursday, eh? Blair is expected to win re-election handily, but anything could go wrong. Frankly I’ll be very sad for the leftist Lib-Dems if they don’t do better. I’m not supporting Lib-Dems, but one has to admit they are the only party of the Left there, and without them there’s no representation for the majority of British voters who opposed the Iraq War.

Although I appreciate the British electoral system in many ways, I still have concerns about it. As radical geekery pointed out, because Bush’s popularity crested for just a few enough weeks in September and November, he is guaranteed power for the next 4 years, even though a majority of our country seems to oppose him and his policies. I don’t know if I agree entirely with this assessment of democracy, but it does leave open ugly possibilities. Just make sure your popularity is good on one particular date, and schedule all the shitty stuff you do so as to have the least impact on that date.

But Parliamentary systems where the governing party calls the election are even worse. At least in America the date is immutable, and the opposition can plan around it and there’s a limit to what inconveniences the governing party can work around. But when the governing party just calls the election whenever they want, they could be unpopular 90% of the time, stumble on some freakish month of good news, and say “this is when you vote!” This is in fact what happened with the last Major government in the nineties.

While we’re discussing systems, remember Canada’s elections are coming up. Now Canada has an interesting system where a) the party that fills the ministries and executive is simply the largest plurality party, and b) all legislation passes on a vote-by-vote basis, so you need coalitions to pass legislation, but not staff the government. Interesting. Now there are clear problems (certainly discourages and is a bit unfair to small parties, what if the majority coalition opposes the plurality party, etc.), but definitely allows for negotiation and centrism to pass legislation, while not suffering instability over who forms the government.


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