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Political Science 1020E Lecture Notes - Direct Election, University Of Western Ontario, Liberal Democracy

Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

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Page 1 of 4 (c) Nigmendra Narain, Political Science, UWO
Comparative Politics:
©Nigmendra Narain
Defining Features
Core of government
Top tier of government
Provides leadership
Sets priorities
Solves crises
Directs national affairs
Implements public policy
Supervises bureaucracy
Required for governing
Presidential government
Distinguish from a dictator or ceremonial head of state
Direct election of president
Steers government and appoints it members
Fixed office term for executive and legislative
Neither executive or legislative can bring down the other
Separation of powers
Separation of personnel
o Executive negotiate with legislature
o Deliberation over dictatorship
o Stalemate
o Fragmentation
o Instability
o Sought to limit executive exercise of power
o Electoral College:
Goal: represent states’ choice/vote and limit impact of ‘excitable
Now: popular vote refracted through states
Page 2 of 4 (c) Nigmendra Narain, Political Science, UWO
o Separation of institutions = share power
o Issue decrees for 60 days, no approval, renewable once
o Force Congress to vote on bills declared urgent
o Initiate bills in Congress
o Weak party discipline = loyalty? appoint to Cabinet
o Fixed term’s = continuity
o Broad support needed to win
o National constituency = above legislative or local partisanship
o Symbol of national unity
o Limit government, protect liberty
o More likely to disintegrate
Parliamentary government
Government emerges from parliament
Government brought down by parliament
Executive can dissolve parliament
Executive selects cabinet members
o Britain: from the parliament, generally own party
o Sweden: must then resign from parliament
Parties = important
o Britain: one party runs
o Finland: coalition of parties
Majority government
o One party wins the most seats in election = becomes majority government in
o Prime minister = head of the party
o Cabinet = selected by Prime Minister
o Controls legislative agenda
o Accountability
Defend bills and actions in Parliament
Votes of no confidence = majority of members have no confidence in
governing party’s governments new government or election
Party Whip: keep members voting in line with party position on major
Minority or coalition governments
o Single-party minority: party with most seats, but still not a majority, governs
o Majority coalition: two or more parties form a majority government
Page 3 of 4 (c) Nigmendra Narain, Political Science, UWO
o Minority coalition or alliance: formal coaltion or informal alliance but still not
enough to be majority
Coalition types
o Minimum winning coalition: smallest number of parties needed to form a
o Connected coalition: ideologically adjacent
o Grand coalition: two leading parties, often marginalize smaller parties
o Oversized coalition: more parties than necessary to ensure stability and limit
Coalition stability:
o Negotiation over policy
o Compromise
o Force election if dissolved
o Requiring assembly to pick new PM from assembly members
o Only if a vote of no confidence is lost
Who governs?
o Cabinet government: discussion and main approval in Cabinet, decisions in
informal meetings with relevant ministers, use of committees
o Prime Ministerial government: PM is dominant figure in cabinet
o Ministerial government: Ministers operate without extensive direction from PM
Coalition necessities
Dual executive: elected President + PM accountable to parliament
o france
o President elected by universal suffrage + considerable powers
o PM: executive & governmental powers + parliament not oppose
Usually president appoints prime minister from parliament
o If they reject 3 times, then election is called.
President = oversight of legislature, foreign affairs, emergency powers, initiate
referendums, veto legislation, dissolve assembly (some or all of these powers)
o ‘steer the ship of state’
o Accountability: fixed elections
o Expand, invest, raise taxes on the rich- fixed election = accountability.
PM = day-to-day domestic issues
o Accountability: vote of censure in parliament
o Vote of sanction.
o Another leader can then take over.