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

122025278
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#81
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#81
(Original post by ed-)
They have compltely different roles. Our PM is a minister, not the head of state or leader of the country, although the media portray it that way.



The HoL is much less powerful than the US Senate. The Commons can force legislation through the Lords. The Lords don't really do much other than provide an expert opinion on law.
The House of Representatives can't force legislation past the Senate. Both Houses have to come to an agreement before it goes through.
Also, the Senate has the power to approve or reject all of the President's appointments. They have the power to ratify treaties and they have the power to try all impeachments.
Considering all this power, 6 year terms aren't all that democratic.



Their judiciary is far too political. If, say, the Democrats had a President in power and a majority in the houses of Congress, they could shape the courts into an entirely liberal / lefty institution.
I don't see how theirs is any more independent or powerful.



You get to elect MPs, Councilors, MEPs.
They get so many votes because their country is a federal system. Seeing as ours isn't, and is very small, we get plenty.



The people in the US are only sovereign at election time, as is the case with the UK. They don't have the same concept of sovereignty as Parliamentary systems as all three of their branches of government are completely independent.
Neither is any more, or less democratic. Just different styles of government.



Every 2 years, yes. But they don't elect the entirety of each House every 2 years. And they elect the President every 4.
Again, different ways of doing things.
In a Parliamentary system, if elections were any closer together the government would have no time to do anything.



The US's system was created almost immediately after they'd got rid of British tyranny, so they did everything they could to prevent anymore tyranny. Some of it they did well, other things they didn't do to well. I'd say the way our system has organically developed is much better.
The people of the US are soveregn at all times, they have unalienable rights defined in the constitution. Congress isn't sovereign for a few reasons. Parliament in the UK is sovereign, not the people. If Parliament wanted to abolish elections, it could. Congress couldn't, only the people could decide that.
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gladders
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#82
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#82
(Original post by 122025278)
The people of the US are soveregn at all times, they have unalienable rights defined in the constitution. Congress isn't sovereign for a few reasons. Parliament in the UK is sovereign, not the people. If Parliament wanted to abolish elections, it could. Congress couldn't, only the people could decide that.
Parliament is elected and is therefore the people's organ and expression of their power. It doesn't need to be written down for it to be perfectly obvious.

The Commons has exclusive power and can rearrange the entire constitution to suit it. It has this power because it is elected. It would only do such a thing on the back of a massive public demand to do so.

Congress on its own may not have the ability to rewrite the Constitution, but that's not a democratic characteristic. It's emphatically an anti- democratic characteristic, as it bars the people from getting what they want (which may in fact be the dissolution of the Senate and Presidency).

In fact, Parliament's ability to rewrite the constitution here is a demonstration of how democratic our system is. Congress in the US cannot by itself change the constitution because there are explicit anti-democratic mechanisms to prevent it from doing so.
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ed-
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#83
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#83
(Original post by 122025278)
The people of the US are soveregn at all times, they have unalienable rights defined in the constitution. Congress isn't sovereign for a few reasons. Parliament in the UK is sovereign, not the people. If Parliament wanted to abolish elections, it could. Congress couldn't, only the people could decide that.
But they're not. The people don't have ultimate political power; the constitution gives them the power they have.
And the constitution can be changed
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122025278
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#84
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(Original post by ed-)
But they're not. The people don't have ultimate political power; the constitution gives them the power they have.
And the constitution can be changed
I don't understand what you're saying. The people have ultimate political power only under the constitution, is that what you mean?

I also don't understand your point about the fact that the constitution can be changed. Because both the UK and US constitutions can be changed, surely the mechanism of change is what's important.

A system where the constitution can be changed at the whim of a dictator is preferable to the system of change in both the UK and US. So we can begin by accepting the premise that not all processes for constitutional change are equally preferable.
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122025278
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#85
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(Original post by gladders)
Parliament is elected and is therefore the people's organ and expression of their power. It doesn't need to be written down for it to be perfectly obvious.

The Commons has exclusive power and can rearrange the entire constitution to suit it. It has this power because it is elected. It would only do such a thing on the back of a massive public demand to do so.

Congress on its own may not have the ability to rewrite the Constitution, but that's not a democratic characteristic. It's emphatically an anti- democratic characteristic, as it bars the people from getting what they want (which may in fact be the dissolution of the Senate and Presidency).

In fact, Parliament's ability to rewrite the constitution here is a demonstration of how democratic our system is. Congress in the US cannot by itself change the constitution because there are explicit anti-democratic mechanisms to prevent it from doing so.
Hitler would have loved the UK system.
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ed-
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#86
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(Original post by 122025278)
I don't understand what you're saying. The people have ultimate political power only under the constitution, is that what you mean?

I also don't understand your point about the fact that the constitution can be changed. Because both the UK and US constitutions can be changed, surely the mechanism of change is what's important.

A system where the constitution can be changed at the whim of a dictator is preferable to the system of change in both the UK and US. So we can begin by accepting the premise that not all processes for constitutional change are equally preferable.
Yes, exactly. And because the constitution can be changed (and therefore the peoples' power taken away) the people are not sovereign. Those with the ability to change the constitution are sovereign.

And I'd say the UK constitution is the easiest to change in any democratic system. No super-majority is needed like in the US. Just a normal piece of legislation is enough.
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ArsenalBen
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#87
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Only in that they get to choose their head of state.
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gladders
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#88
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(Original post by 122025278)
Hitler would have loved the UK system.
And kapow! With Godwin's Law invoked, you lose the thread.
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gladders
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#89
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(Original post by ed-)
Yes, exactly. And because the constitution can be changed (and therefore the peoples' power taken away) the people are not sovereign. Those with the ability to change the constitution are sovereign.

And I'd say the UK constitution is the easiest to change in any democratic system. No super-majority is needed like in the US. Just a normal piece of legislation is enough.
Except we are fast approaching a constitutional convention in the UK which demands referendums for all constitutional changes. We're not quite there but the pressure is building and I won't be surprised if all major constitutional changes in future have to be passed via referendum.
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122025278
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#90
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(Original post by ed-)
Yes, exactly. And because the constitution can be changed (and therefore the peoples' power taken away) the people are not sovereign. Those with the ability to change the constitution are sovereign.

And I'd say the UK constitution is the easiest to change in any democratic system. No super-majority is needed like in the US. Just a normal piece of legislation is enough.
But people are sovereign under the present US constitution, that's the assumption of this thread, it doesn't need to be explicit. I could equally say that the Queen could dissolve Parliament tomorrow, David Cameron could be appointed PM for life etc. etc. and so the UK system is rubbish.

It's like arguing who the best football player in the world is and saying "Yes but if Messi's legs get broken, then he wouldn't be"
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ed-
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#91
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(Original post by gladders)
Except we are fast approaching a constitutional convention in the UK which demands referendums for all constitutional changes. We're not quite there but the pressure is building and I won't be surprised if all major constitutional changes in future have to be passed via referendum.
There have been more referendums in recent years but I hardly think it's a constitutional change.
It's hard to differentiate what is just a piece of legislation and a constitutional piece of legislation in the UK, due to it being uncodified, so if the government don't want to put it to a public vote, they never really have to bring it to public attention.

(Original post by 122025278)
But people are sovereign under the present US constitution, that's the assumption of this thread, it doesn't need to be explicit. I could equally say that the Queen could dissolve Parliament tomorrow, David Cameron could be appointed PM for life etc. etc. and so the UK system is rubbish.

It's like arguing who the best football player in the world is and saying "Yes but if Messi's legs get broken, then he wouldn't be"
Haha, good analogy, you have a fair point there.
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Republic1
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#92
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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.
Both system stink to high heaven. It's pseudo democracy at it's finest.

In terms of elections, the electoral college combined with FPTP arguably makes the US system even less democratic and representative than ours. And ours is pretty undemocratic.

Their bicameral system is better than ours in terms of senators vs peers yes. And the appointments system has both positives and negatives, it slows the whole process down but holds the executive to account.

Midterms are good in theory, but the gridlock this causes when one party controls the house and one the senate is disastrous.

The Federal system is better in the US but for a small island nation like ours, excessive devolution of powers isn't as necessary IMO.

The separation of powers in the US is much better yes, but if you have an unjust legal system it doesn't matter what judicial system you have. Law in the UK is a whole lot fairer.

In terms of being more democratic, they are about on par as states claiming to represent the perfect liberal democracy, but in fact lagging behind other nations (Scandinavian countries especially). In terms of a better political system, well the US system is inherently more corrupt than ours in terms of money and motives. I'd choose ours if forced to, but it's still not suitable for the 21st century.
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a.partridge
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#93
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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.
Who says the goal is an entirely pure democracy anyway - why would you assume they are both aiming for the same thing.
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Kayleigh.wenham3
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#94
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Both systems are incredibly flawed and neither is really better than the other- you have to remember that they are both very different countries entirely and what works for America wouldn't work over here. Can you imagine having a federal system in Britain?

In terms of the EIU which reviews democracy in 162 countries Britain is 18th with a 'score' of 8.16 out of 10, and the US 19th with 8.11. These scores are based on Electoral process, functioning of government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties.
They both score fairly the same in most of these categories however the US has a much higher political participation score, but a much lower civil liberties score.

I think that these low scores, leaving both the UK and the US at the bottom of the 'full democracy' scale and 5 or 6 places away from the 'flawed democracy' category is due to US democracy being adversely affected by a deepening of the polarisation of the political scene and political brinkmanship and paralysis and in the both the UK and US there has been a rise in the protest movement, lack of faith and the problems of the functioning of government have been more prominent in both. It is also worth noting that the UK's political participation score is among the worst in the developed world.
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gladders
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#95
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The British people are sovereign under our own constitution, too; but sovereign through Parliament. It amounts to the same thing. Parliament expresses the public will, and so does Congress. But Parliament has greater freedom of action; Congress is restrained by barriers on what it can do.

It ends up with constitutional reforms being much easier in the UK (meaning useful updates and reforms are done more regularly), as opposed to the US, where gridlock has meant long-overdue reforms take a long time and a lot of stress to deliver.
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Will Lucky
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#96
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(Original post by CJKay)
Sure, in theory.
In practice, George Bush and Mitt Romney.
EDIT: Not to mention how much money sways their elections.
What? Mitt Romney you know...invented Obamacare afterall.
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122025278
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#97
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(Original post by gladders)
And kapow! With Godwin's Law invoked, you lose the thread.
On a serious note, have you ever seen the documentary on the abolition of the hereditaries from the House of Lords called A Lord's Tale? It was broadcast on Channel 4 a good few years ago, I've seen it a couple of times, well worth the watch!
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gladders
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#98
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(Original post by 122025278)
On a serious note, have you ever seen the documentary on the abolition of the hereditaries from the House of Lords called A Lord's Tale? It was broadcast on Channel 4 a good few years ago, I've seen it a couple of times, well worth the watch!
I haven't, but you're not the first one to recommend I watch it! I've heard it's quite good.
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Etreo
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#99
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The US's political "Democracy" is an utter sham. They have a two party comprised of watered-down Fascists and watered-down Marxists. At least our parties are more moderate, even the (shudder) Conservatives. And we have a lot of parties in the Commons, minority party leaders on shows like Question Time and Sunday Politics, not to mention our independent peers.

UK - 1
Short sighted head strong gun nut inbreeders - 0
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Nick100
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#100
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The parts set up by the constitution are more "democratic" (although that isn't the word the founders would have used) but the Republicans and Democrats have created obstructive legislation making it difficult for anyone else to run for office.
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