Exam review for term 1

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Published on 24 Apr 2011
School
UTSG
Department
Political Science
Course
POL207Y1
Britain
-Constitution famously unwritten
-This means that status of law can only be determined by parliament. No
higher law for court to appeal to as a trump
-Not really unwritten just un codified. There are some documents like magna
carta, parliament acts
-There are some unwritten practices like doctrine of parliamentary
sovereignty which dictates that a parliament can overturn absolutely
anything that came before it. Also conventions which are broadly held views
of what is and is not acceptable in parliament
-Parliamentary sovereignty has been slightly undermined by EU
-Some argue that no const allows England to be flexible and adapt to the
changing times.
-This argument came under fire during the troubles
-Parties
-Labour, Tories and Lib Dems
-Parties are anchor of British politics because 1) PM of largest party is asked
to form government 2) Gouvernment rules only with confidence of house, can
fall at any time. Confidence is expressed by parties. 3) members of the party
are bound to party discipline. Discent can happen within cabinet but not
outside. 4) opposition not necessarily bound to discipline but usually does so
anyways
-British party system is very stable. Major parties always get majority of votes
because there are so many people who would never leave their party due to
the fact that parties are rooted in class divides
-Whip means parties can always rely on their members for support
-Implications: Britain has most powerful party system in the world. Votes
against governments are rare. A majority is essentially elected dictatorship.
Political success for an individual depends heavily on the party
-Legislature
-Law making body
-Source of power and prestige
-Confirms appointments
-Plays a role in budget¸
-Helps citizens communicate with executive
-Acts as a check on executive power
-Parliement votes always happen along party lines
-Leg History
-1. Growth of party discipline
-2. Consolidation of 2.5 party system
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-3. Sharp increase in post war legislative activity reduces scope for
deliberational scrutiny
-4. Thatcher falls because she loses support of cabinet and back benchers
which causes consolidation of PM power somewhat under thatcher but mostly
under blair. Kitchen cabinets: experts that PMs hire seperately
-Legislative Process
-Proposal in Whitehall (Civil Service....)
-Sent to other depts. (treasury has a veto)
-Cabinet signals agreement
-Future legislation comitee
-Parliamentary council drafts bill
-Queen announces it in speech
-Another legislation comitee
-Then debated in HoC
-1st reading: statement of purpose
-2nd reading general provisions subject to debate
-If accepted goes to standing committee
-3rd reading, final debate vote
-Then to house of lords but they dont really matter
-Elections
-First past the post (This supports the two party system)
-Constituencies
-Potential to have majority of seats with as little as 35% of vote
-Unlikely for small parties
-The people only really have a say in politics during elections
-Limits fringe parties
-Executive:
-PM super powerful, can sack ministers, define broad outline of policy
-Three main debates in British poltics: 1)rival models of political economy 2)
Who Britain should associate with in the world (Empire? USA? EU?) and
Territorial organization (Power for Scotland? Wales? Etc.)
-Key difference from France...not a clear distinction between executive and
legislative
France
-The triumph of presidential power
-4th rep was unstable 5th rep was centralized in the office of the Prez
-French const design
-Product of CDG
-Insitutions created in 58-62 and consolidated by CDGs retirement in 69
-Pre-58 Financial crisis and Algerian crisis
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-CDG comes out of wilderness, says that Algeria crisis is product of weak
party system, says hes ready to take over¸
-This alarmed 4th rep because A) he seemed like he wanted to keep Algeria
and thus looked like he was part of the coup
-4 days later though he came out and said that he had respect for democratic
process and thus he wasnt just going to take over
-May 27th he announced that he was forming a new republic and constitution.
This caused coup to be called off
-Govt resigned and CDG filled the void. Passed a low to amend const and
created 5th republic
-Strategy to stop infighting in France
-Strenghtened powers of Prez, reduced parliamentary power. Put it to
referendum which won 75%
-He later quasi-legally insitutued direct prez election
-Algeria: At first it seemed as if he wanted to keep it
-Later though he put it to a referendum
-Algerian independence won. Military fought back, occupied French
government in Algeria but CDG appealed to French people and soldiers and
eventually the putsch collapsed
-This allowed CDG to implement His Vision of France
-1. Strong Institutions and above all else a prez that embodies the value of the
state and is above petty politics
-2. A nationalist foreign policy and aggressive support for unilateral nuclear
deterrent. Anti Anglo-Saxon
-3. Reconcilliation with Germany and the creation of a European Union with
Franco-German alliance at its heart
-French Partis
-Very fragmented (Lots of them)
-Majors: Union Movement Populaire, National Front, Parti Socialiste
-Lots of minors
-Mirrors french social divisions
-Election of prez : top 2 candidates go through to second ballot.
-Legislature: minimum of 12.5 percent to go through. Simple plurality on
second vote
-Automatic election if over 50%
-Mechanical effects: creates two party prez race, 12.5% threshold eliminates
fringe parties, encourages coalition forming between ballots, allows French to
indulge their specific ideologies in first ballot and gives them alternative
between two effective governments on second
-Plurality distorts % though
-Also potential of Le Pen disaster
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Document Summary

This means that status of law can only be determined by parliament. No higher law for court to appeal to as a trump. There are some documents like magna carta, parliament acts. There are some unwritten practices like doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty which dictates that a parliament can overturn absolutely anything that came before it. Also conventions which are broadly held views of what is and is not acceptable in parliament. Parliamentary sovereignty has been slightly undermined by eu. Some argue that no const allows england to be flexible and adapt to the changing times. This argument came under fire during the troubles. Parties are anchor of british politics because 1) pm of largest party is asked to form government 2) gouvernment rules only with confidence of house, can fall at any time. 3) members of the party are bound to party discipline. Discent can happen within cabinet but not outside.

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