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confused unitedstatesian is confused

Posted on 2010.07.05 at 07:37

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melpemone
melpemone at 2010-05-07 12:21 (UTC) ()
Heh, this is one of those concepts that I get, but struggle to explain, so bear with me:

A hung parliament is when no one party has an overall majority of seats. A hung parliament can result in a minority government, but in this case, it'd be unlikely, because the (minority) government wouldn't have a mandate from the public to govern as they chose. If the vote does result in a hung parliament, the incumbent has the right to try to go before the Commons and see if they can gain sufficient support to continue governing. I think last time that happened the incumbent lost the Commons vote and resigned. But in this case, it's possible that Labour could form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats and gain enough votes to continue to govern effectively. This is preferable to a minority government, as there would be no need to argue through absolutely every vote.

In any case, it's important primarily because the UK hasn't had a hung parliament since the 1940s, and with the economic fooferall now is a bad time to be arguing at length about everything. And with their first-past-the-post system, it's rare to have a hung parliament because an MP doesn't need a majority of votes to win a seat.

If this makes no sense, do tell and I'll work on it. :)
newleaf31
newleaf31 at 2010-05-07 16:05 (UTC) ()
It was really helpful to me, anyway! Thanks! I'm a n00b to the British election process, but I've been following this one obsessively for several months -- even before the actual process started -- when the buzz about Clegg started swirling, and I think I'm finally beginning to get an idea of how things work. I read in the Times this morning that both Cameron and Brown are, of course, courting the Lib Dems in a big way to form a coalition. The Times made it seem like almost a foregone conclusion that Cameron will be the PM within the week, but I can't imagine Clegg et al. will be willing to yield on the many, many differences they have with the Tories in order to form a coalition... so isn't there still a pretty good chance that Brown might stay at #10? I haven't seen the final results yet, so maybe the Tories got closer to the majority than I thought they would; what do you think?
melpemone
melpemone at 2010-05-08 00:03 (UTC) ()
Thanks! Glad that made sense to someone. Re-reading it in the cold light of morning, I could have been clearer. :D

There's a chance Brown may stay as PM because traditionally, as the incumbent, he gets first shot at making it work, but the problem here is that (and I haven't read the news yet this morning, so something may have changed) even if he manages to form a coalition with the Lib Dems, together they still wouldn't have an outright majority - they'd still need to court all the smaller parties. I vaguely recall that this is how Germany formed their current government - with a grand coalition.

OTOH, a Tory/Lib Dem coalition would be a lot closer to having the numbers. And yes, they're diametrically opposed, but if the Lib Dems could swing it correctly they could make the Tories agree to all kinds of conditions in exchange for their vote. Personally, my first condition would be that they all resign immediately, but I'm not a Tories fan. :D
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2010-05-08 13:50 (UTC) ()
No, it definitely makes sense. What I'm mostly trying to wrap my brain around is how a minority government isn't a viable option. Yes, there's no mandate, but is that absolutely necessary? It's worked in other governments with similar systems (see my comment below for stuff about Canada). In the US we have minority governments all the time, also (and right now we have a majority and can't get stuff done, but that's mostly about Republicans hating on Obama rather than actual policy issues). Our system is different from yours, though--we say we're FPtP, but we have the silly Electoral College, which seems to cancel it out, and we vote for people instead of parties, so it may not work the same way.
melpemone
melpemone at 2010-05-08 14:03 (UTC) ()
It's still an option, yes, but it's an undesirable one. This likely comes down to cultural differences - the UK simply doesn't end up with minority governments that often, and so the problems with them are viewed more critically. Nobody wants an uphill battle over every piece of legislation put forward. It may still happen - the way things look to have panned out, a minority govt run on a "confidence and supply" basis looks like the most likely option, if only just (with a Tory/Lib Dem coalition running a close second) - but it would be appalling for the economy and the next election would be called ASAP.

Yeah, your Electoral College process gives me a brainache. People say our preferential system is weird, but it's child's play in comparison. :)
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2010-05-08 14:16 (UTC) ()
Nobody wants an uphill battle over every piece of legislation put forward.

Heh, we have that now with a majority, because every time the Obama administration puts out a significant piece of legislation the Republicans invoke cloture, which means they need two-thirds majority to even discuss it. Cloture wasn't used very much until Obama came along and started offending the opposition by his mere existence. [/rant]

And it's been fun to watch Harper turn himself inside out to avoid confidence votes (not so much fun for Canadians, though, because they have to deal with the guy 24/7).

Our Electoral College is silly and pointless and needs to go away now. It worked okay when the US was a tiny, brand-new country, but not so much with a couple hundred million people). Preferential voting looks like something I might like, because I'm so indecisive. I'd be all, 'hmm, I like that person, but not quite so much as this one--I'll put him/her second and see what happens.'

Edited at 2010-05-08 14:16 (UTC)
melpemone
melpemone at 2010-05-08 14:28 (UTC) ()
the Republicans invoke cloture,

So I read! Can't something be done about that? Maybe I'm naive, but it strikes me as undemocratic in the extreme. Why aren't these people embarrassed to resort to such bullshit measures, I ask you?

I like the preferential system, for the most part. I'm also a below-the-line voter, so I at least make the most of the system. My main problem with it is that my #1 vote always goes to a smaller party (I've always voted Green, and I've recently become a Founding Member of the Pirate Party of Australia (yes, really. :D)), and preference distribution means that my vote winds up Labor - it beats the alternative, but I sure would love a Greens PM. :)
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2010-05-08 14:48 (UTC) ()
Republicans these days apparently have no shame whatsoever. They make stuff up all the time and don't care if it's true or not as long as it suits the political ambitions of their party. With the 24-hour news cycle and the internet, there will always be people to believe it and spread the stupidity.

Above-the line voting is kind of like our straight-ticket voting. I'm a definite split-ticket voter. I usually vote Democratic but every once in a while there'll be an independent or a liberal Republican worth voting for.

There are usually more than just the two major parties on the ballot, but the little parties don't stand a chance because voting for one of those splits the vote, and in some cases can do terrible things, like make George Bush President. It's a Catch-22 situation, because if enough people voted for a third party the two big ones might be unseated, but very few people do because they think it really doesn't help because they can't win, and so on. Grr.

The idea of a Green Party President is lovely. See above for why it'll never happen. :/ And I really, really wish the US had a party like the NDP. As a social democrat, I would so go for that.
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