Comparative Politics Today Notes Chapter 8: (Politics in Britain)
•Britain is different because it’s an old democracy
•United Kingdom: a place with a government that was created in 1801 by merging
England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland under the authority of Parliament of London.
•Unlike new democracies, Britain did not become a democracy oveppoornight. It became
a democracy by evolution rather than revolution. Men and women weren’t allowed to
vote until the 20th century, even though there were competitive elections.
•The influence of British government can be found in far places such as Australia, Canada,
India, and the US. Britain represents stable representative government. But it has limits
•The evolution of democracy in Britain contrasts with a European history of countries
switching between democratic and undemocratic forms of government. The oldest Brits
have lived in the same political system all their lives.
•At no point in history did representatives of the British people meet to decide what kind
of government they would like to have, as happened in America in the 18th century.
•The creation of a modern system of gov’t doesn’t get rid o the problems of governing
Policy Challenges Facing the British Government:
•The general election of 2010 has face British party leaders with their biggest political
challenge in more than half a century. There are three parties amongst the Brits: The
Conservative Party, The Liberal Democratic Party, and The Labour Party. In the
election of 2010, none of them won the majority of the seats in the House of Commons.
•After losing three successive elections, the Conservative leadership was desperate to gain
office. After half a century of Liberal leaders claiming that they wanted their party to
become a party of government, a hung parliament gave the Liberals an opportunity to
•The coalition government’s chief offices are divided between Conservative David
Cameron (leader of the conservative party) as the Prime Minister (the head of gov’t in
charge of the Parliamentary) and Liberal Democratic leader Nick Clegg as deputy PM.
•The first challenge facing the government is to keep the coalition together.
•Some Liberal Democrats found themselves closer to the Labour party
•The coalition partners agreed to disagree about what kind of electoral system should be
used at the next national election.
•The conservatives favor keeping the existing first-past-the-post system (in which the
candidate with the most votes in a constituency, whether less or more than half, becomes
its MP), while the Liberal Democrats favored the introduction of proportional
representation as a fairer system.
•Traditionally, experts interpreted the doctrine of the sovereignty of Parliament to mean
that the government can do whatever it wants as long as it has the backing of a majority
in the House of Commons. However, many problems facing British government are
“intermestic” because globalization is blurring the traditional distinction between
international and domestic problems.
•Whatever their party, Britain’s governors accept the inevitability of globalization. This
makes the PM spend as much as one day a week in other countries.
•Globalization challenges the country’s governors to answer the question: “Where does
Britain belong?” Britain is a major world power having close ties with Commonwealth
countries, the US and Europe.
•The British Empire was transformed into Commonwealth, a free association of fifty-three
sovereign states with members on every continent, after WWII. Each member had an
independent status, as shown by the absence of the word “British” in the title.
•Every British PM claims a special relationship with the US. America keeps building
special relationships with other countries, while Britain PM’s have not as much.
•An all-party House of Commons committee concluded that the idea of a special
relationship should be abandoned as misleading and that he UK should be “less
deferential and more willing to say no to the US on those issues where the two countries’
interests and values divulge.” Most UK people reject a special relationship with the US
and only cooperation where there are common interests.
•The coalition government is under pressure to undertake a fundamental review of
Britain’s overall commitments abroad.
•After rejecting becoming a founding member of the European community in 1957,
Britain joined it on 1973. The EU has now the power to impose regulations affecting
British business, spending decisions in such fields as agriculture, and Acts of Parliament.
Government ministers argue over political fundamentals and other British stuff.
•One theory is that Britain could increase its influence in Washington and further afield by
becoming a leading member of the EU. However, Britain has always had a limited
commitment, seeing the EU as an important market but rejecting proposals to strengthen
its supranational powers.
•Conservative party: half skeptical of EU, and half wishing Britain wasn’t part of EU.
•Liberal Democrats: very pro-EU
•Labour Party: evaluates EU measures in terms of its party interest
•In small countries, which have always recognized the influence of bigger neighbors,
Comparative politics today notes chapter 8: (politics in britain: britain is different because it"s an old democracy, united kingdom: a place with a government that was created in 1801 by merging. England, scotland, wales and ireland under the authority of parliament of london: unlike new democracies, britain did not become a democracy oveppoornight. It became a democracy by evolution rather than revolution. Men and women weren"t allowed to vote until the 20th century, even though there were competitive elections: the influence of british government can be found in far places such as australia, canada, But it has limits: the evolution of democracy in britain contrasts with a european history of countries switching between democratic and undemocratic forms of government. Policy challenges facing the british government: the general election of 2010 has face british party leaders with their biggest political challenge in more than half a century. There are three parties amongst the brits: the.