The trouble I have with parliamentary systems

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Vendetta
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Re: The trouble I have with parliamentary systems

Post by Vendetta » 2014-12-24 02:07am

AniThyng wrote:
Thanas wrote:How is that different from the presidential system when the ruling party has a majority?
I hear a lot about RINOs and DINOs but it's rare to hear an Australian or UK legislator referred to as a <party>-in-name-only, so assuming a non-coalition scenario, ruling party parliaments are much more likely to vote en-bloc? But then again lately it seems the US is doing everything on party lines so perhaps that is no longer the case. And again except for a minority government scenario, by definition the executive party is always the ruling party in a parliament so the US style scenario doesn't arise at all.
In the UK it's probably more because campaign financing is different. Political contributions are to the party not the individual, and so the power of the parliamentary whip is much stronger because the party can threaten to defund or expel from the party a candidate if they don't vote in line on an important issue (which means they lose access to party funding and would have to stand as independent from then on, meaning almost certainly losing their seat next time around).

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Re: The trouble I have with parliamentary systems

Post by Lord Revan » 2014-12-24 05:02am

it should be noted that in countries with multi-party system it's rather rare for a single party to have more then 50% of the seats (IIRC there's only 1 case ever of such happening in Finland ever and atm the largest party has less then 1/4 of the seats with 44 seats out of 200) so it's not that common for a single party to steamroll its agenga as they will need allies to get the absolute majority and those allies might not agree 100% on the agenga of said party.
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Re: The trouble I have with parliamentary systems

Post by Irbis » 2014-12-24 06:05am

The Romulan Republic wrote:Is there any reason why you can't have a proportional system to elect the legislature and still have a separately elected leader?
Well, there are semi-presidential system republics. Say, France. But in general, it doesn't work that well, the only two important countries besides France to use it are Ukraine and Russia and you can see where it leads to - President attempting to bully and vassalise parliament so he can actually rule, eventually leading to semi- or full autocracy in practice.

See Syria, Egypt, and Algeria, which unlike above two doesn't even try to pretend Glorious Leader isn't the only boss and voting is mostly formality. France itself needed almost a hundred years of developed habits and informal agreements to delineate powers between president and prime minister if they won't agree on policies.
AniThyng wrote:Would the solution be longer terms then? All democracies are about politicians devoting their time to winning elections.
That makes system less responsive to changes in environment and merely delays a problem to final years of term. I think it would make people less accountable, too. No, I think parliamentary democracy system where party is responsible for devoting time to winning election and politicians don't need to (can't) gather funds themselves is better. Your government should be ideally focused on ruling, not distracting power plays.

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Re: The trouble I have with parliamentary systems

Post by Enigma » 2014-12-24 08:58am

Lord Revan wrote:it should be noted that in countries with multi-party system it's rather rare for a single party to have more then 50% of the seats (IIRC there's only 1 case ever of such happening in Finland ever and atm the largest party has less then 1/4 of the seats with 44 seats out of 200) so it's not that common for a single party to steamroll its agenga as they will need allies to get the absolute majority and those allies might not agree 100% on the agenga of said party.
Fellow Canadian board members can correct me but it is the opposite in Canada. It was uncommon for a ruling party to run the federal government in a minority position or is able to achieve a majority through a coalition (although it was the situation from 2004 until 2011). Most of the time, when a political party wins they tend to get at least 51% of the seats if not more.
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Re: The trouble I have with parliamentary systems

Post by Irbis » 2014-12-24 10:24am

Enigma wrote:Fellow Canadian board members can correct me but it is the opposite in Canada. It was uncommon for a ruling party to run the federal government in a minority position or is able to achieve a majority through a coalition (although it was the situation from 2004 until 2011). Most of the time, when a political party wins they tend to get at least 51% of the seats if not more.
This has nothing to do with system being parliamentary or not, though. Some vote counting systems, like D'Hondt method, premium big parties to make for smooth government function, others premium plurality and accuracy of representation, even at the cost of needing coalition governments most of the time. It conscious political decision with its own pros and cons, that's all.

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Re: The trouble I have with parliamentary systems

Post by Coop D'etat » 2014-12-24 10:37am

Enigma wrote:
Lord Revan wrote:it should be noted that in countries with multi-party system it's rather rare for a single party to have more then 50% of the seats (IIRC there's only 1 case ever of such happening in Finland ever and atm the largest party has less then 1/4 of the seats with 44 seats out of 200) so it's not that common for a single party to steamroll its agenga as they will need allies to get the absolute majority and those allies might not agree 100% on the agenga of said party.
Fellow Canadian board members can correct me but it is the opposite in Canada. It was uncommon for a ruling party to run the federal government in a minority position or is able to achieve a majority through a coalition (although it was the situation from 2004 until 2011). Most of the time, when a political party wins they tend to get at least 51% of the seats if not more.
Its uncommon in Canada for their to be a minority government, same as in the UK due to the first past the post system. Most parliaments aren't like that though.

In the context of the OP, the Canadian system is actually broken in the opposite direction to what he's talking about. The individual MPs have no recognition from the public and increasingly no power independant from party leadership in large part because people vote just for the party and the guy at the top of the ticket. So the MPs have all the independence of trained seals. In theory, even the backbenchers of the government's party are supposed to exercise oversight and act as an independant check on the executive, but their ability to do that has been gutted over the past generation.

The most recent governement has in particularly pushed the envelope on how much they can disregard Parliament, but they are just the leading edge of a trend that goes back 50 years or so. But what they have shown is that Parliament has become almost vestigial as independant legislative body while all the decision making power has shifted to the executive. In practice, its becoming like a weirdly elected Presidential system rather than a Parliamentary one.

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Re: The trouble I have with parliamentary systems

Post by Tribble » 2014-12-24 12:17pm

Coop D'etat wrote:
Enigma wrote:
Lord Revan wrote:it should be noted that in countries with multi-party system it's rather rare for a single party to have more then 50% of the seats (IIRC there's only 1 case ever of such happening in Finland ever and atm the largest party has less then 1/4 of the seats with 44 seats out of 200) so it's not that common for a single party to steamroll its agenga as they will need allies to get the absolute majority and those allies might not agree 100% on the agenga of said party.
Fellow Canadian board members can correct me but it is the opposite in Canada. It was uncommon for a ruling party to run the federal government in a minority position or is able to achieve a majority through a coalition (although it was the situation from 2004 until 2011). Most of the time, when a political party wins they tend to get at least 51% of the seats if not more.
Its uncommon in Canada for their to be a minority government, same as in the UK due to the first past the post system. Most parliaments aren't like that though.

In the context of the OP, the Canadian system is actually broken in the opposite direction to what he's talking about. The individual MPs have no recognition from the public and increasingly no power independant from party leadership in large part because people vote just for the party and the guy at the top of the ticket. So the MPs have all the independence of trained seals. In theory, even the backbenchers of the government's party are supposed to exercise oversight and act as an independant check on the executive, but their ability to do that has been gutted over the past generation.

The most recent governement has in particularly pushed the envelope on how much they can disregard Parliament, but they are just the leading edge of a trend that goes back 50 years or so. But what they have shown is that Parliament has become almost vestigial as independant legislative body while all the decision making power has shifted to the executive. In practice, its becoming like a weirdly elected Presidential system rather than a Parliamentary one.
In theory the Senate is supposed to act as a check, but in practice it is little more than a rubber-stamp organisation.

Given the way things currently stand, the Canadian Prime Minister has far more practical power than the US President (too much IMO). The only real check on the Prime Minister right now are the courts... but unfortunately for the current PM they do seem very keen on upholding the constitution.
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Re: The trouble I have with parliamentary systems

Post by eyl » 2014-12-24 01:16pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:Is there any reason why you can't have a proportional system to elect the legislature and still have a separately elected leader?
Israel used to have elections only for the legislature. In the nineties, the system was changed so that in addition to voting for a party, you'd also vote for a PM candidate. AFAIR, the thinking was that this would make the PM less dependent on the parties, lessening the small parties' ability to extract extravegant concessions in return for their support.

In practise, it made things worse, because the Knesset actually became more fragmented. To give an example, say you had a right-wind voter who was also religious and supported the Shas party. Under the old system, he might be inclined to put a vote for Likud anyway rather than Shas, in the interest of making sure Netanyahu* got into the PM's seat (rather than splitting the vote, making Labor the biggest party and giving them a shot at the job). Under the new system, he could put one vote for Shas and one for Netanyahu - the effect was that the two large parties lost a lot of seats and smaller parties proliferated. As the PM was still dependent on them to form a coalition, their capacity to pressure him increased.

The system was changed back after two elections, but arguably the damage was done, the Knesset today is a lot more fragmented than it was before (although to be fair the amount of seats the two biggest parties held was trending slowly downwards even before that).

*Example taken totally not at random, Netanyahu was the first PM elected by this system.

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Re: The trouble I have with parliamentary systems

Post by Korto » 2014-12-25 07:45am

The thing to remember about the Australian system is that we have two houses, the Commons (lower house) and Senate (upper house) (except for Queensland, but they're a load of cane toads up there), and the senate is quite active and in no way a rubber stamp.
One political party normally dominates the lower house, and is the government. (It's rare for Australia to have a minority government, and causes much angst and panic amongst the intellectually impaired.) The upper house, however, is typically split amongst the major parties, minor parties, and independents. If you have a look at this, you'll see while the coalition government holds the most seats, they don't hold an absolute majority. They need at least six more votes. Labor will vote against whatever it is, just because. Coalition's pissed the Greens off, they can forget them too. That means the government to get anything contentious through at the moment has to find six votes amongst one party of two people run by a narcissistic gasbag, and six other disparate individuals (who are a majority noobs and idealists).
They're having a lot of trouble at the moment.
This senate mix is typical, and frustrates the government in power no end (one earlier PM referred to the Senate as "Unrepresentative swill", and not because he was happy with them), although political commentators do seem to think the present government is particularly poor at the necessary negotiating.
It does occasionally happen that the government in power also holds power in the senate. This of course gives the government a rare opportunity to push through their own agenda unopposed and unmodified. This seems to typically end badly for the government, as they over-reach and get murdered in the next election cough WorkChoices cough. They then learn that what one government can do, the next can undo.

As for the PM himself, he really doesn't hold any real special power. The Executive holds some power, and he's the representative of the Executive, but if he started straying from the party position, he wouldn't remain PM for very long. He's not at all like a US president.

As for the "Party Position" thing, voting against the party (crossing the floor) is something only a backbencher (someone without a ministerial position) can do (or they'll get sacked from their ministerial position, but NOT from parliament. As an elected official, that's impossible.), and even so it's in the Labor constitution at least that anyone voting against the Labor party will be expelled from the Labor party (whether that actually happens depends on politics). It's no way to make friends. The only exception is when a party declares something a "Conscience Vote", so individuals can vote according to their personal conscience.
This basically completely sucks. It's my opinion that we shouldn't have a term for "Conscience Vote" in the same way that fish don't have a term for water, but there you have it. I feel the US system seems slightly superior in this one aspect, even if not overall.
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Re: The trouble I have with parliamentary systems

Post by bilateralrope » 2014-12-25 03:29pm

Lord Revan wrote:it should be noted that in countries with multi-party system it's rather rare for a single party to have more then 50% of the seats (IIRC there's only 1 case ever of such happening in Finland ever and atm the largest party has less then 1/4 of the seats with 44 seats out of 200) so it's not that common for a single party to steamroll its agenga as they will need allies to get the absolute majority and those allies might not agree 100% on the agenga of said party.
The typical coalition agreement for NZ politics is the parties agree on a few specific bits of legislation and vote however they feel like voting on everything else. Any legislation passed needs agreement between parties, which leads to all parties being willing to work together on legislation they agree with.
The only exception is when a party declares something a "Conscience Vote", so individuals can vote according to their personal conscience.
This basically completely sucks. It's my opinion that we shouldn't have a term for "Conscience Vote" in the same way that fish don't have a term for water, but there you have it. I feel the US system seems slightly superior in this one aspect, even if not overall.
That depends on the system. Where individuals are elected a conscience vote should be standard. Though everybody negotiating individually sounds like it would slow things down.

For a proportional system, conscience votes should be rare. After all, you voted for the party, not some random list MP. So that list MP should vote with the party.

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Re: The trouble I have with parliamentary systems

Post by General Brock » 2014-12-27 10:04pm

bilateralrope wrote:
General Brock wrote:For Canada, the head of state is our Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
Is it the same arrangement as New Zealand has ?

Which seems to be one where the Queen doesn't use whatever powers she officially has and we decide that it isn't worth the cost of the paperwork to remove those powers.
New Zealand is a member of the Commonwealth, so its generally the same arrangement. New Zealand does not have a comprehensive constitutional document, however, all government, judicial, military, and police oaths are to the reigning Monarch, heirs and successors. The Monarch replaces the need for a unifying nationally elected figure, and all the attendant politics that would be attached to that.

Residual powers would be wielded by the Queen's representative, the Governor-General, which can become important where the Prime Minister is personally or politically incapacitated and can no longer advise the Gov-Gen..

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Re: The trouble I have with parliamentary systems

Post by Scrib » 2014-12-30 01:14pm

AniThyng wrote:
Adamskywalker007 wrote: I would say that the largest problem currently facing American politics is the fact that every politician devotes their time to winning elections rather than governing. The lack of compromise is merely a symptom of this.
Would the solution be longer terms then? All democracies are about politicians devoting their time to winning elections.

Heck...even in non-democracies, arguably the leaders are busy securing their position and avoiding being backstabbed over governing...
From what I understand the issue is that they're not winning elections by participating in political bloodsport which might be for good but that time is increasingly being spent fund-raising for the next run

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