Is the US political system more democratic than the UK political system? Watch

Renner
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Our system is much preferable to the Americans. Democracy is the best of a bad bunch of systems, but the Americans have too much. How are congressmen expected to actually do anything when all they do is constantly fight for reelection. The House of Lords is a good check on the Commons without causing political deadlock, we are not stuck to a 18th century document of a constitution and the Monarch is a far better unifying symbol than a President who keeps the PM from getting too big for his boots, after all he is just a peer among his equals in the cabinet.

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Eboracum
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It's more democratic, but it is not better. You want a government that can come in, and get things done, good or bed, not a system where a President elected by 69 million has to negotiate with Congress and then can have his legislation struck down by 5 judges.
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Superunknown17
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Personally, I'd rather have our system rather than the American one. The fact that you can have less of the popular vote but still win is enough to convince me that the American system is wildly messed up. (See 2000 Bush v. Gore) This is due to the electoral college and it's a winner takes all scenario in each state they win so even if it's by 1 vote, the winner still takes all the electoral college votes.

Also, the American system is dominated by pressure groups and money, e.g. superPAC's etc, candidates with no money have basically no chance.

Our system isn't exactly good because fptp creates safe seats which means votes in marginal seats are worth more than those in safe seats, which discourages people from turning out. What the UK really needs is a proportional representation (PR) system where votes are allocated on the proportion of votes we get, AV (though not perfect) would have improved this but due to the smear campaign by the Tories, this was never implemented.
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CEKTOP
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(Original post by 122025278)
  • The President is directly elected, the UK Prime Minister is not
  • Senators are elected for 6 years, Peers in the House or Lords are APPOINTED for LIFE
  • You get three votes at the Federal level, President, Senate and House, in the UK you get one
  • All ministerial, military, judicial and civil appointments in the US must get the explicit consent of the Senate, explicit Parliamentary consent isn't needed in the UK.
  • In the UK Parliament is sovereign, in the US the PEOPLE are sovereign. Parliament can change anything in the UK constitution.
  • There are midterm elections every 2 years to hold the government to account, we get one every 5 years.
  • There is a huge amount of power devolved to state and local governments.
  • The judiciary in the US is more independent and far more powerful than the judiciary in the UK.

Of course the US system isn't perfect. It just seems in this country we have so many anomalies and a one size fits all system. The US was designed as a democracy, the UK system sort of dragged its heels and evolved and still has a lot of work left to do.
Do not discard the fact that the US political system is prone to gridlocks if the house/senate compositions are uneven (that is if 1 party controls the house and the other controls the senate) and this happens, in part, due to a rigid two-party system (which, arguably, does not benefit democracy).

Filibustering is another fun thing which allows senators coming from a minority party to stall any negotiations which are deemed to be harmful to their party's interests there.
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gladders
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(Original post by 122025278)
  • The President is directly elected, the UK Prime Minister is not
  • Well firstly, no, the US President isn't directly elected; they have something called the Electoral College under which it is entirely possible for the winning candidate to not have a majority of votes.

    Secondly, even if it were, it's irrelevant; the US President is 'directly' elected but also impossible to remove from power, bar elections; the British Prime Minister is not 'directly' elected but can be removed at any moment if the House of Commons wishes.

  • Senators are elected for 6 years, Peers in the House or Lords are APPOINTED for LIFE
Capitalising those words doesn't somehow make them more scandalous, mate.

Both the US Senate and the British House of Lords are not representative chambers; the Senate represents States (and was originally appointed by State legislatures), and all States are represented on an equal basis, making any mockery of any claim to being representative. The House of Lords is not an unusual chamber.

On top of that, however, they both have fundamentally different functions. The Senate represents the States; it has been long established that the House of Lords is meant to be a chamber of expertise and a cooling-off chamber for legislation at the hands of people not fearful of populist pressure.

[quote[
  • You get three votes at the Federal level, President, Senate and House, in the UK you get one[/quote]

    Which makes the British single vote much more powerful, particularly as, while the British House of Commons is the most important branch of the British constitution, in the US, the House of Representatives is the least powerful.

    [quote]
  • All ministerial, military, judicial and civil appointments in the US must get the explicit consent of the Senate, explicit Parliamentary consent isn't needed in the UK.[/quote[

    And the Senate hardly ever votes them down. And as I have already pointed out, as the Senate is in no way a representative, democratic chamber, this makes a mockery of your claim that the US is more democratic than the UK.

    In any case, under the parliamentary system, where the House of Commons can remove the Prime Minister or any member of his team at will, the PM has to take the view of Parliament into account when making such appointments. Parliament is therefore much more powerful and more democratic.

  • In the UK Parliament is sovereign, in the US the PEOPLE are sovereign.
  • Mere window dressing. It hardly makes Americans feel better about their system, and makes no difference as to how democratic Britain is.

    Parliament can change anything in the UK constitution.
    Good! Why should it be otherwise?

  • There are midterm elections every 2 years to hold the government to account, we get one every 5 years.
  • Which means the US is in a constant election campaign, and little gets done because demagoguery is the order of the day.

  • There is a huge amount of power devolved to state and local governments.
  • A valid observation, but we now have devolution and there is a practice of applying it where there is demand. Also remember British constitutional habits; the English, especially, expect their Parliament to be where the big decisions are made, particularly as Parliament holds the Government to account for these decisions.

  • The judiciary in the US is more independent and far more powerful than the judiciary in the UK.
  • And in so being, it makes the US less democratic; judges APPOINTED for LIFE (see? I can do it too) are capable of overriding without appeal laws passed by an elected Congress. Judges are capable of making law. The worst you can say about Lords is they delay legislation; this is an order up and above that!

    British judges respect Parliament's field and have, rightly, no jurisdiction over the constitutionality of Acts of Parliament. That is for the people to decide. We are, therefore, more democratic.

    Of course the US system isn't perfect. It just seems in this country we have so many anomalies and a one size fits all system. The US was designed as a democracy, the UK system sort of dragged its heels and evolved and still has a lot of work left to do.
    It seems to me, judging especially from your comments on the judiciary, that you don't actually understand what democracy is; it's not simply elections - indeed, the US system is a perfect example of how more elections makes a country less democratic. The idea that you can claim powerful judges is more democratic is staggering; it's a direct contradiction.
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    gladders
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    (Original post by 122025278)
    • The President is directly elected, the UK Prime Minister is not
    • Well firstly, no, the US President isn't directly elected; they have something called the Electoral College under which it is entirely possible for the winning candidate to not have a majority of votes.

      Secondly, even if it were, it's irrelevant; the US President is 'directly' elected but also impossible to remove from power, bar elections; the British Prime Minister is not 'directly' elected but can be removed at any moment if the House of Commons wishes.

    • Senators are elected for 6 years, Peers in the House or Lords are APPOINTED for LIFE
    Capitalising those words doesn't somehow make them more scandalous, mate.

    Both the US Senate and the British House of Lords are not representative chambers; the Senate represents States (and was originally appointed by State legislatures), and all States are represented on an equal basis, making any mockery of any claim to being representative. The House of Lords is not an unusual chamber.

    On top of that, however, they both have fundamentally different functions. The Senate represents the States; it has been long established that the House of Lords is meant to be a chamber of expertise and a cooling-off chamber for legislation at the hands of people not fearful of populist pressure.

  • You get three votes at the Federal level, President, Senate and House, in the UK you get one
  • Which makes the British single vote much more powerful, particularly as, while the British House of Commons is the most important branch of the British constitution, in the US, the House of Representatives is the least powerful.

  • All ministerial, military, judicial and civil appointments in the US must get the explicit consent of the Senate, explicit Parliamentary consent isn't needed in the UK.
  • And the Senate hardly ever votes them down. And as I have already pointed out, as the Senate is in no way a representative, democratic chamber, this makes a mockery of your claim that the US is more democratic than the UK.

    In any case, under the parliamentary system, where the House of Commons can remove the Prime Minister or any member of his team at will, the PM has to take the view of Parliament into account when making such appointments. Parliament is therefore much more powerful and more democratic.

  • In the UK Parliament is sovereign, in the US the PEOPLE are sovereign.
  • Mere window dressing. It hardly makes Americans feel better about their system, and makes no difference as to how democratic Britain is.

    Parliament can change anything in the UK constitution.
    Good! Why should it be otherwise?

  • There are midterm elections every 2 years to hold the government to account, we get one every 5 years.
  • Which means the US is in a constant election campaign, and little gets done because demagoguery is the order of the day.

  • There is a huge amount of power devolved to state and local governments.
  • A valid observation, but we now have devolution and there is a practice of applying it where there is demand. Also remember British constitutional habits; the English, especially, expect their Parliament to be where the big decisions are made, particularly as Parliament holds the Government to account for these decisions.

  • The judiciary in the US is more independent and far more powerful than the judiciary in the UK.
  • And in so being, it makes the US less democratic; judges APPOINTED for LIFE (see? I can do it too) are capable of overriding without appeal laws passed by an elected Congress. Judges are capable of making law. The worst you can say about Lords is they delay legislation; this is an order up and above that!

    British judges respect Parliament's field and have, rightly, no jurisdiction over the constitutionality of Acts of Parliament. That is for the people to decide. We are, therefore, more democratic.

    Of course the US system isn't perfect. It just seems in this country we have so many anomalies and a one size fits all system. The US was designed as a democracy, the UK system sort of dragged its heels and evolved and still has a lot of work left to do.
    It seems to me, judging especially from your comments on the judiciary, that you don't actually understand what democracy is; it's not simply elections - indeed, the US system is a perfect example of how more elections makes a country less democratic. The idea that you can claim powerful judges is more democratic is staggering; it's a direct contradiction.
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    gladders
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    Ugh, sorry folks, my post went wonky first time. Mods, could you delete my first post? I don't have the icon on my screen for some reason...
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    Martyn*
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    (Original post by miser)
    The US is superficially more democratic, but anything more than a cursory glance of it unearths that in fact no, they are not. Politics in America is all about money. Senators do not represent the people, they represent the corporations that fund their political campaigns. What the US has is crony capitalism.

    They need a 28th amendment to ban corporations interfering with the political process and stop corporate personhood; all they have at the moment is legalised bribery.
    Just like what we have here.
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    miser
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    (Original post by Martyn*)
    Just like what we have here.
    Very astute as usual.
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    ThreadPoster
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    (Original post by 122025278)
    • The President is directly elected, the UK Prime Minister is not
    • Senators are elected for 6 years, Peers in the House or Lords are APPOINTED for LIFE
    • You get three votes at the Federal level, President, Senate and House, in the UK you get one
    • All ministerial, military, judicial and civil appointments in the US must get the explicit consent of the Senate, explicit Parliamentary consent isn't needed in the UK.
    • In the UK Parliament is sovereign, in the US the PEOPLE are sovereign. Parliament can change anything in the UK constitution.
    • There are midterm elections every 2 years to hold the government to account, we get one every 5 years.
    • There is a huge amount of power devolved to state and local governments.
    • The judiciary in the US is more independent and far more powerful than the judiciary in the UK.

    Of course the US system isn't perfect. It just seems in this country we have so many anomalies and a one size fits all system. The US was designed as a democracy, the UK system sort of dragged its heels and evolved and still has a lot of work left to do.
    I think it depends on how you look at it. On the one hand in the UK you can win 35% of the vote and form a majority in parliament. In America you have win a majority. Having said that money does corrupt the system a lot. Most congressman and senators spend 70% of their time fundraising. You can even tell when you hear them debate and speak. Although there are some intelligent ones in general when you hear politicans speak in America they generally just rehearse talking points. In britain on the other hand they generally seem to know what they are talking about.

    Also in Britain the minority party has no way of blocking initiatives by the majority party which means less gridlock and more action. Also the election every 2 years are kind of a bad thing. It means that politicians are always campaigning instead of governing. And the notion that the judiciary is independent is such a joke. Listen to Antonin Scalia quotin republican talking points and you realize the supreme court is just as partisan as any other institution (although I must say I was impressed when Justice John Roberts voted in favor of Obama's health care law. I guess it shows there are still some good ones).

    Ultimately you have to realize that no government is perfect. Every system has its dysfunctions. What makes a difference is the leaders who are in that government and whether or not they have a real concern for the people or just special interests. (I apologize to all those whom I made vomit with my politically correctness).
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    ThreadPoster
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    (Original post by Superunknown17)
    Personally, I'd rather have our system rather than the American one. The fact that you can have less of the popular vote but still win is enough to convince me that the American system is wildly messed up. (See 2000 Bush v. Gore) This is due to the electoral college and it's a winner takes all scenario in each state they win so even if it's by 1 vote, the winner still takes all the electoral college votes.

    Also, the American system is dominated by pressure groups and money, e.g. superPAC's etc, candidates with no money have basically no chance.

    Our system isn't exactly good because fptp creates safe seats which means votes in marginal seats are worth more than those in safe seats, which discourages people from turning out. What the UK really needs is a proportional representation (PR) system where votes are allocated on the proportion of votes we get, AV (though not perfect) would have improved this but due to the smear campaign by the Tories, this was never implemented.
    By the way electoral college isn't as unjust as you may think it is. It gives small states more leverage than they would have otherwise.
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    gladders
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    (Original post by ThreadPoster)
    By the way electoral college isn't as unjust as you may think it is. It gives small states more leverage than they would have otherwise.
    Be that as it may, it's not democratic.
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    Superunknown17
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    (Original post by ThreadPoster)
    By the way electoral college isn't as unjust as you may think it is. It gives small states more leverage than they would have otherwise.
    It also doesn't give larger states enough representation. It isn't exactly a shining beacon of democracy.
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    122025278
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    (Original post by gladders)
    Ugh, sorry folks, my post went wonky first time. Mods, could you delete my first post? I don't have the icon on my screen for some reason...
    There was so much nonsense and rambling in your post I don't know where to begin. You seem to be hung up on the idea that Parliament can remove a Prime Minister. When was the last time this happened? What's more striking you seem to offer this as a counter argument to the power of Congress. I'm afraid Congress can remove any minister, official, judge, military commander etc. so what the hell was your point? lol. By the way this Parliament that you seem to worship has no power to remove the Head of State, Congress does! lol. One other thing, the Commons can remove the Prime Minister you say? Right and the Prime Minister commands a majority in the Commons, isn't that a little bit of a conflict of interest, just a little? lol. Worse still, the Prime Minister could threaten to call a general election! So MP's of the Prime Ministers party are supposed to remove a guy who could call a general election and would put their seats in jeopardy? Wonderful system, no wonder Gordon Brown threatened an early election to disgruntled Labour MP's, he knew he was unpopular and he knew the only way the public could get rid of him was by getting rid of his party's MP's. The legislature and executive are far more independent in the US system. Oh and as far as I'm aware the Commons is full of part timers parachuted into seats they have no connection with whatsoever by party big wigs, there is no primary process so those people have no individual mandate and can be bullied into voting by using the whip system or the incentive of climbing the ministerial ladder. Seperation of powers FTW! Now the Lords. How many ex-criminals who've served a prison sentence while sitting do we have in there now? But it's OK because Parliament would expel criminals from sitting surely, actually no. The attendance is good though right? Wrong again, it looks like 1/4 turn up regularly and even then the actual contribution is questionable, most likely just turn up to pick up their £250 and get a nice lunch. Is it representative of society? Well yes if society is aged over 70, has no ethnic or relgious minorities at all. It's full of experts though the Lords isn't it? Wrong again, the VAST MAJORITY (you like that?) are ex-MP's using the place as a retirement home (usually disgraced or well past their use-by date), party political hacks, people who failed numerous times to get into the Commons and those who seem to have donated a large amount of money to their party and have been "given" a peerage (yes this is 21st century Britain not a banana republic). Then we come to the 93 hereditary peers. Seats in the upper house especially reserved for those who inherit a title and the possibility of a seat in the Lords voting on UK law. Just when I thought the legitimacy of the Lords was lost! At least there is no amalgamation between the upper house of the UK legislature and an established church... Hold on it seems that the most senior clerics in the C of E have a right to sit in the Lords. Iran we got there first! But it's all good because for every 30 failed or disgraced MP, political stooge, millionaire party "donor", criminal, cleric, geriatric, we get one crossbench "expert" like Lord Martin of Springburn, oops sorry! I meant Professor Robert Winston...
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    gladders
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    (Original post by 122025278)
    There was so much nonsense and rambling in your post I don't know where to begin. You seem to be hung up on the idea that Parliament can remove a Prime Minister. When was the last time this happened?
    Depends. Formal, as in vote of confidence? 1979. Informal, as in pressure by MPs and increasingly losing respect of Parliament? Arguably, Tony Blair.

    Either way, the actual cases it happens are far less important than the fact that Parliament can do so if it wished. The power is entirely intact, and serves to ensure PMs have to work with their fellow MPs in order to get business through and stay in power.

    What's more striking you seem to offer this as a counter argument to the power of Congress. I'm afraid Congress can remove any minister, official, judge, military commander etc. so what the hell was your point? lol.
    You're referring to impeachment. Do you know how often this has happened, in the entire existence of US history? Counting every president, judge, general and civil servant, about thirty attempts have been made in over 250 years. Only about half of them were successful. Parliament is not only more powerful in this field (the House of Commons only needs a majority vote to bring them down, rather than the impeachment system which requires a judicial ruling by the Senate), but is also much more willing to use it, even if that is also sparingly.

    By the way this Parliament that you seem to worship has no power to remove the Head of State, Congress does! lol.
    Sure about that? Congress can impeach the President, sure, but it's never actually resulted in the formal remove of a President. Only once has a sitting President resigned before an impeachment was finished – Richard Nixon. Again, Parliament is more powerful and uses it more frequently.

    As for removal of the Head of State – yes, Parliament can do this. I'm surprised you claim it doesn't, considering the origin of its present power is founded on it ability to do so. Charles I ring any bells? Or James II? How about Edward VIII? No?

    One other thing, the Commons can remove the Prime Minister you say? Right and the Prime Minister commands a majority in the Commons, isn't that a little bit of a conflict of interest, just a little? lol.
    He commands a majority, yes, but it's conditional on him deserving that position of command. PMs are extremely conscious of their need to placate their backbenchers, and this serves as a check-and-balance on their power. Again, I can cite many examples from the past 20 years of how backbenchers have rebelled against PMs and upset the apple cart.

    Worse still, the Prime Minister could threaten to call a general election! So MP's of the Prime Ministers party are supposed to remove a guy who could call a general election and would put their seats in jeopardy? Wonderful system, no wonder Gordon Brown threatened an early election to disgruntled Labour MP's, he knew he was unpopular and he knew the only way the public could get rid of him was by getting rid of his party's MP's.
    What's wrong with being able to call an early election? If the backbenchers feel the people are on their side, they will dare the PM to dissolve Parliament. If the people are behind the PM, then they won't want it to happen, as it will strengthen the people's hand. Ultimately, it's public approval that matters, and I find it surprising you consider this a bad thing.

    The US system of two indissolvable Houses, however, allows legislators to gridlock the system for years without any democratic means of resolving conflict. Early dissolutions of Parliament are excellent democratic tools.

    The legislature and executive are far more independent in the US system.
    Not really. The party systems operate differently there, being such a vast country, that legislators are essentially in the pockets of regional interests. And corporate corruption of legislators is infinitely more acute there than here.

    Oh and as far as I'm aware the Commons is full of part timers parachuted into seats they have no connection with whatsoever by party big wigs, there is no primary process so those people have no individual mandate and can be bullied into voting by using the whip system or the incentive of climbing the ministerial ladder. Seperation of powers FTW!
    'As far as you're aware'? I guess you're not aware at all. MPs work extremely hard to gratify their constituents and parties try as much as they can to secure a candidate from the local area. Local constituency parties choose the candidates. Some can be 'parachuted' in by the central organisation, but this cannot occur to regular or without proper regard to local opinion or the local party will simply rebel.

    As for the whip system – you realise this exists in both countries, right? Whips serve an essential democratic purpose. MPs are elected on the back of party/leader publicity, party money, and local part volunteers, and will campaign promising a range of policies cited in their party's national manifesto. Once they are MPs, they have essentially pledged to the country that they will see through the party's national manifesto into law. Whips are there to see that this is done.

    MPs are free to violate their promise to electors, but then they will have to face electors next time round and explain why they lied at the general election. There will always be a tension between local and national promises, but Whips are an expression of democratic will.

    As for being 'bullied' into voting, I think you've been reading too many tabloids. The media is too alert to scandal nowadays for whips to simply be threatening bullies (although it can still happen, depending on circumstances). We are currently in a golden age of party rebellion, anyway. Compared to the US, our legislators are currently more willing to rebel.

    Primaries are very much a dangerous double-edged sword. We only need to observe the US Primaries to see that they are hijacked by corporate and extremist interests. No thanks.

    Now the Lords. How many ex-criminals who've served a prison sentence while sitting do we have in there now? But it's OK because Parliament would expel criminals from sitting surely, actually no.
    How many? Not many, really. There have been some high-profile cases but only an idiot would then do something as stupid as tar with a broad brush the vast majority let down by a minority. As for Parliament's power to remove criminal peers, this is being looked into; there is a very good reason for it not being easy, however, and that is ensuring the Government cannot abuse such a power to remove inconvenient legislators. There is a balance to be struck, and a Bill is currently before Parliament as we speak to remedy it.

    The attendance is good though right? Wrong again, it looks like 1/4 turn up regularly and even then the actual contribution is questionable, most likely just turn up to pick up their £250 and get a nice lunch.
    Now you're showing your ignorance. Attendance is about half, and there's a perfectly good reason for that: it's meant to be a part-time House. Lords are meant to be experts, meaning their main profession is not politicians – they are doing jobs outside of Parliament. So a doctor or scientist or professor or lawyer will only come to the House to debate and vote on something they have proper knowledge about.

    Again, I suspect you're reading far too many tabloids. Members can only get their attendance fee if they attend a debate or a committee meeting. There are a tiny, tiny minority who abuse this for free money, but they are a dying breed and are generally considered to be '****s'. If there was an effective way of weeding out very poor attenders with compulsory leaves of absence, it would be eliminated entirely. Again, a Bill is before Parliament.

    Anyway, have you seen the smorgasbord of allowances that US legislators get? It would make Berlusconi blush!

    Is it representative of society? Well yes if society is aged over 70, has no ethnic or relgious minorities at all.
    The Lords is not meant to be a representative chamber. No Upper House is – including the US Senate. And there are ethnic and religious minorities in the Lords – not as much as the Commons, but then the Commons isn't doing too great at it, either – and nor is the US Congress.

    It's full of experts though the Lords isn't it? Wrong again, the VAST MAJORITY (you like that?) are ex-MP's using the place as a retirement home (usually disgraced or well past their use-by date), party political hacks, people who failed numerous times to get into the Commons and those who seem to have donated a large amount of money to their party and have been "given" a peerage (yes this is 21st century Britain not a banana republic).
    More ignorance. Ex-MPs make up about a quarter of the House. Indeed I would agree it's too many, but it cannot be denied that long-standing ex-MPs and ex-Ministers are an expertise all of their own and you need generalists. There are few who got there by donating money to parties, but this has been enormously reduced in scope since the creation of the House of Lords Appointments Commission which screens all appointments for fiscal propriety. There have been a few headlines exposing corrupt practices, but this shows that the Commission is doing its job.

    Ultimately I would like the Commission's powers to be expanded to veto and approve all candidates for peerages, but that's a discussion for another time.

    Then we come to the 93 hereditary peers. Seats in the upper house especially reserved for those who inherit a title and the possibility of a seat in the Lords voting on UK law. Just when I thought the legitimacy of the Lords was lost! At least there is no amalgamation between the upper house of the UK legislature and an established church... Hold on it seems that the most senior clerics in the C of E have a right to sit in the Lords. Iran we got there first! But it's all good because for every 30 failed or disgraced MP, political stooge, millionaire party "donor", criminal, cleric, geriatric, we get one crossbench "expert" like Lord Martin of Springburn, oops sorry! I meant Professor Robert Winston...
    *sigh* so, tell me. Regarding things about expenses and a State Church, why are you arguing about these when your initial claim was that the US was more democratic? These things have nothing to do with democracy. Sure, they are open to criticism (some of which I share), but you're making the all-too-common mistake of lumping everything you approve of under 'democratic' and everything you disapprove of under 'undemocratic'. You might as well say burnt toast is undemocratic as it tastes bitter to you.

    Fact is, the British constitution remains more democratic. Even if the Lords were the most corrupt, venile body of criminals, the House of Commons remains supreme with the Parliament Act and can override all opposition if it is determined to do so. The US, however, uses elections for everything and in so doing obstructs the democratic will by making the democratic will impossible to determine.
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    122025278
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    (Original post by gladders)
    Depends. Formal, as in vote of confidence? 1979. Informal, as in pressure by MPs and increasingly losing respect of Parliament? Arguably, Tony Blair.

    Either way, the actual cases it happens are far less important than the fact that Parliament can do so if it wished. The power is entirely intact, and serves to ensure PMs have to work with their fellow MPs in order to get business through and stay in power.



    You're referring to impeachment. Do you know how often this has happened, in the entire existence of US history? Counting every president, judge, general and civil servant, about thirty attempts have been made in over 250 years. Only about half of them were successful. Parliament is not only more powerful in this field (the House of Commons only needs a majority vote to bring them down, rather than the impeachment system which requires a judicial ruling by the Senate), but is also much more willing to use it, even if that is also sparingly.



    Sure about that? Congress can impeach the President, sure, but it's never actually resulted in the formal remove of a President. Only once has a sitting President resigned before an impeachment was finished – Richard Nixon. Again, Parliament is more powerful and uses it more frequently.

    As for removal of the Head of State – yes, Parliament can do this. I'm surprised you claim it doesn't, considering the origin of its present power is founded on it ability to do so. Charles I ring any bells? Or James II? How about Edward VIII? No?



    He commands a majority, yes, but it's conditional on him deserving that position of command. PMs are extremely conscious of their need to placate their backbenchers, and this serves as a check-and-balance on their power. Again, I can cite many examples from the past 20 years of how backbenchers have rebelled against PMs and upset the apple cart.



    What's wrong with being able to call an early election? If the backbenchers feel the people are on their side, they will dare the PM to dissolve Parliament. If the people are behind the PM, then they won't want it to happen, as it will strengthen the people's hand. Ultimately, it's public approval that matters, and I find it surprising you consider this a bad thing.

    The US system of two indissolvable Houses, however, allows legislators to gridlock the system for years without any democratic means of resolving conflict. Early dissolutions of Parliament are excellent democratic tools.



    Not really. The party systems operate differently there, being such a vast country, that legislators are essentially in the pockets of regional interests. And corporate corruption of legislators is infinitely more acute there than here.



    'As far as you're aware'? I guess you're not aware at all. MPs work extremely hard to gratify their constituents and parties try as much as they can to secure a candidate from the local area. Local constituency parties choose the candidates. Some can be 'parachuted' in by the central organisation, but this cannot occur to regular or without proper regard to local opinion or the local party will simply rebel.

    As for the whip system – you realise this exists in both countries, right? Whips serve an essential democratic purpose. MPs are elected on the back of party/leader publicity, party money, and local part volunteers, and will campaign promising a range of policies cited in their party's national manifesto. Once they are MPs, they have essentially pledged to the country that they will see through the party's national manifesto into law. Whips are there to see that this is done.

    MPs are free to violate their promise to electors, but then they will have to face electors next time round and explain why they lied at the general election. There will always be a tension between local and national promises, but Whips are an expression of democratic will.

    As for being 'bullied' into voting, I think you've been reading too many tabloids. The media is too alert to scandal nowadays for whips to simply be threatening bullies (although it can still happen, depending on circumstances). We are currently in a golden age of party rebellion, anyway. Compared to the US, our legislators are currently more willing to rebel.

    Primaries are very much a dangerous double-edged sword. We only need to observe the US Primaries to see that they are hijacked by corporate and extremist interests. No thanks.



    How many? Not many, really. There have been some high-profile cases but only an idiot would then do something as stupid as tar with a broad brush the vast majority let down by a minority. As for Parliament's power to remove criminal peers, this is being looked into; there is a very good reason for it not being easy, however, and that is ensuring the Government cannot abuse such a power to remove inconvenient legislators. There is a balance to be struck, and a Bill is currently before Parliament as we speak to remedy it.



    Now you're showing your ignorance. Attendance is about half, and there's a perfectly good reason for that: it's meant to be a part-time House. Lords are meant to be experts, meaning their main profession is not politicians – they are doing jobs outside of Parliament. So a doctor or scientist or professor or lawyer will only come to the House to debate and vote on something they have proper knowledge about.

    Again, I suspect you're reading far too many tabloids. Members can only get their attendance fee if they attend a debate or a committee meeting. There are a tiny, tiny minority who abuse this for free money, but they are a dying breed and are generally considered to be '****s'. If there was an effective way of weeding out very poor attenders with compulsory leaves of absence, it would be eliminated entirely. Again, a Bill is before Parliament.

    Anyway, have you seen the smorgasbord of allowances that US legislators get? It would make Berlusconi blush!



    The Lords is not meant to be a representative chamber. No Upper House is – including the US Senate. And there are ethnic and religious minorities in the Lords – not as much as the Commons, but then the Commons isn't doing too great at it, either – and nor is the US Congress.



    More ignorance. Ex-MPs make up about a quarter of the House. Indeed I would agree it's too many, but it cannot be denied that long-standing ex-MPs and ex-Ministers are an expertise all of their own and you need generalists. There are few who got there by donating money to parties, but this has been enormously reduced in scope since the creation of the House of Lords Appointments Commission which screens all appointments for fiscal propriety. There have been a few headlines exposing corrupt practices, but this shows that the Commission is doing its job.

    Ultimately I would like the Commission's powers to be expanded to veto and approve all candidates for peerages, but that's a discussion for another time.



    *sigh* so, tell me. Regarding things about expenses and a State Church, why are you arguing about these when your initial claim was that the US was more democratic? These things have nothing to do with democracy. Sure, they are open to criticism (some of which I share), but you're making the all-too-common mistake of lumping everything you approve of under 'democratic' and everything you disapprove of under 'undemocratic'. You might as well say burnt toast is undemocratic as it tastes bitter to you.

    Fact is, the British constitution remains more democratic. Even if the Lords were the most corrupt, venile body of criminals, the House of Commons remains supreme with the Parliament Act and can override all opposition if it is determined to do so. The US, however, uses elections for everything and in so doing obstructs the democratic will by making the democratic will impossible to determine.
    Did you enjoy my smackdown, make you chuckle?

    I'm intersted though, there is a formal legal process to impeach and remove the monarch? (link please)
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    gladders
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    #37
    (Original post by 122025278)
    Did you enjoy my smackdown, make you chuckle?
    Your smackdown wasn't a smackdown at all. Didn't make me sweat.

    I'm intersted though, there is a formal legal process to impeach and remove the monarch? (link please)
    No formal process exists, because none is required. Previous occasions have all needed a majority vote, and will do so in future. That's the beauty of an uncodified constitution.
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    (Original post by gladders)
    Be that as it may, it's not democratic.
    (Original post by Superunknown17)
    It also doesn't give larger states enough representation. It isn't exactly a shining beacon of democracy.
    I think it's important to understand that very few countries are 100% democratic. In most countries there are some limits on democracy to prevent a tyranny of the majority. For example many of these small states have distinct gun cultures which would probably be threatened in a completely democratic society.

    Nevertheless I sympathize with people who feel american democracy is not functioning properly although I don't think the electoral college is at fault. The main impedents to true democracy are two things,

    1. The effect of money on democracy
    2. Redistricting designed to give one party the complete advantage and reducing competition.

    I think these are more critical than the electoral college.
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    gladders
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    (Original post by ThreadPoster)
    I think it's important to understand that very few countries are 100% democratic. In most countries there are some limits on democracy to prevent a tyranny of the majority. For example many of these small states have distinct gun cultures which would probably be threatened in a completely democratic society.

    Nevertheless I sympathize with people who feel american democracy is not functioning properly although I don't think the electoral college is at fault. The main impedents to true democracy are two things,

    1. The effect of money on democracy
    2. Redistricting designed to give one party the complete advantage and reducing competition.

    I think these are more critical than the electoral college.
    I quite agree. However the subject of this thread is whether Britain or America is more democratic. Putting your valid criticisms of money and redistricting aside, the only conclusion that can be made about the Electoral College is that it is a deliberate, intentional, means of distorting the public vote, balancing outright votes with concerns for small States.

    As such, it is not a democratic means of choosing a President.
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    DontWantYourBloodMoney
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    Yes, in theory. The major problem seems to be the amount of money poured into election campaigns, with several billions of dollars used to attempt to back a horse into winning the race in exchange for political favours. Their system is far better than ours if that was sorted though, the House of Lords is a joke.
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