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confused unitedstatesian is confused

Posted on 2010.07.05 at 07:37


try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2010-05-08 13:37 (UTC) ()
Hmm. Okay, but Canada has First Past the Post also, and they've had a minority government for six years running and have still managed to get stuff done. Granted, there have been elections in those six years (three, IIRC), and there's always the threat of one, but every time there is, Harper (unfortunately) keeps gaining seats. Is there a difference maybe in the parties themselves? They have four parties who have had seats (five if you count the Greens, who have only managed I think one seat so far), but only two have had a real chance of forming a government. The Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats seem to mesh with the ideologies of the UK parties (and then there's the Bloc Québécois, but that's another whole post).

During the last election the non-governing parties were planning to team up and form a coalition but that idea fell through, to say the least; the Liberals ended up replacing their leader and the Tories ended up with yet another minority government. And then there's the way Harper goes around proroguing Parliament practically every time he thinks there's a confidence vote in the offing. But the thing is, they make it work.

So my question is, what's the difference? I'm using Canada as a comparison because it's the only Parliamentary system I know any real detail about, and their rules look pretty close to the way they run things in the UK.

Edited at 2010-05-08 13:55 (UTC)
the_antichris at 2010-05-08 21:27 (UTC) ()
I don't know too much about Canada (except that whole possible coalition Thing, which I was there for), but the way I think it works is that Harper tries to avoid confidence votes and either he's got some Liberals to agree to support him on supply or they just don't have the guts to trigger an election. Which is probably sensible, because if an election was triggered and spun as the Liberals' fault, it might hurt them.

I *think* the difference is that Britain is so used to having only two main parties (the Lib Dems and people like the Scottish National Party are a relatively recent phenomenon) that they can't deal with the idea of a minority government, because until the smaller parties started winning seats, minority governments just weren't mathematically possible.

There's no reason that the Tories *couldn't* make a minority govt work, but the idea of having to negotiate votes for every piece of legislation is really foreign to both the parties and the electorate. I think they might end up with one anyway, because I don't see the Tories agreeing to a referendum on the voting system and I hope the Lib Dems are going to stick to their guns on that, so the Tories might end up without a coalition but with an agreement to support them on confidence and supply, ie a minority govt for all intents and purposes.

(We worked the same as the UK, minus the House of Lords, until we got MMP, and I don't think we had a single minority govt pre-MMP, because of having two very dominant parties and the way FPP tends to translate small swings in percentage vote into large seat majorities unless you have a viable third party and/or regional parties, which is what's happened here. <-- ETA: by 'here' I mean in the current UK election, not here in NZ.)

The coalition falling through is exactly what's wrong with FPP, incidentally. Because they're threats to each other's seats, the Liberals and the NDP hate each other and aren't used to working together (and the Bloc just hate everyone on principle), so they couldn't get it together to overthrow their natural opponents. Under MMP here, Labour and the Greens are not exactly BFF, but if they had the numbers, National would be gone by lunchtime. (And our Governor-General would not prorogue Parliament without calling an election, because that is SUPER constitutionally dodgy. In Canada, too, but apparently she didn't care.)

Edited at 2010-05-08 21:30 (UTC)
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