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Old 12th September 2020, 12:44 PM   #1
Bob001
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Congress or Parliament?

The writer makes the case that the U.S. would be better served with a parliamentary system, like most other Western democracies.
Quote:
A parliamentary system of government is preferable to a presidential system. Parliamentary systems are common throughout much of Europe, South Asia and many former British colonies. Parliamentary systems are characterized by executives, usually called prime ministers, who derive their legitimacy from an assembly or legislature, usually called a parliament, after the “mother of parliaments,” in Britain. The executive is the head of government and is usually a member of the legislature and also held accountable to that legislature.
https://nationalinterest.org/feature...rliament-17220

Discuss.
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Old 12th September 2020, 12:48 PM   #2
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What is your view?
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Old 12th September 2020, 12:53 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
What is your view?
The concept makes sense, and it seems to work well in other countries. The downside is the possibility of a Prime Minister Mitch McConnell or Kevin McCarthy.
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Old 12th September 2020, 01:04 PM   #4
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I think the article conflates first past the post and proportional representation systems of parliamentary government. The UK system is first past the post and is almost as much a two party system as the US one. It is only under rare circumstances that any third party has an influence in the UK.

If what is wanted is a middle ground president that everybody can somewhat live with, then maybe some kind of runoff system is what is wanted as in France. Even that came down to a choice between extremely different candidates last time, so I'm not sure that it can be avoided. If the population is divided, so by necessity is politics. It would be a little disturbing if that wasn't the case.

All of these systems have pros and cons.

Last edited by shuttlt; 12th September 2020 at 01:06 PM.
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Old 12th September 2020, 01:33 PM   #5
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First, we would need to take out that stupid "i".
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Old 12th September 2020, 01:38 PM   #6
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Hoping for a parliamentary system in the U.S. is like wishing for a flying unicorn that spits out gold coins. It'd be great to have, but it ain't ever gonna happen.
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Old 12th September 2020, 01:59 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
The concept makes sense, and it seems to work well in other countries. The downside is the possibility of a Prime Minister Mitch McConnell or Kevin McCarthy.
Or Boris Johnson.
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Old 12th September 2020, 02:07 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
The concept makes sense, and it seems to work well in other countries. The downside is the possibility of a Prime Minister Mitch McConnell or Kevin McCarthy.
The British PM is a member of the lower house, so Nancy Pelosi.
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Old 12th September 2020, 02:24 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
I think the article conflates first past the post and proportional representation systems of parliamentary government. The UK system is first past the post and is almost as much a two party system as the US one. It is only under rare circumstances that any third party has an influence in the UK.

If what is wanted is a middle ground president that everybody can somewhat live with, then maybe some kind of runoff system is what is wanted as in France. Even that came down to a choice between extremely different candidates last time, so I'm not sure that it can be avoided. If the population is divided, so by necessity is politics. It would be a little disturbing if that wasn't the case.

All of these systems have pros and cons.
Our system is a Parliamentary democracy, but is elected by MMP (based on the German system)

Half the seats in Parliament (about 70) are elected by electoral seats with roughly an even number of constituents in each seat (Electorates may vary by no more than 5% of the average population size). The boundaries for those electorates are set up by an independent body (called the "Representation Commission") responsible to the whole or parliament, not the just government and not the Prime Minister.

The remaining seats (up to a total of about 120 seats in Parliament, but because of rounding up and down in the percentages there are sometimes a few more than 120 seats) are elected by a party vote. Each party publishes a list of candidates in preferred order - from one to however many they want to list.

NZ voters cast two votes

1 An Electoral vote for who they want as their Parliamentary representative
2 A nationwide Party Vote for who they want to be the Government

It is common for voters to "split their vote" where their Electoral vote is for a person who is not from the same party as their Party vote.

The composition of Parliament is determined by the proportion of Party votes for each party.

A popular Party vote of more than 50% makes that party the government on their own. For example, if a party polls 55% of the Party vote, they will have 66 seats in the 120 seat parliament. If they won 32 of the 70 Electorate seats, their remaining seats are made up from the first 34 people on their party list (66 - 32 = 34). If any of the Electorate winners were on that list, they will keep going down the list until they reach 66 seats.

A popular party vote of 50% or less will result in a coalition government.

A party must gain 5% of the total Party Vote to get a seat, but if they win an electorate seat and less than 5% of the party vote, then they will have some of their list in parliament. For example a party wins one Electorate seat and 3.4% of the Party vote, they will have four seats in Parliament - their electorate winner and the first three people on their party list.
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Old 12th September 2020, 03:06 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
The British PM is a member of the lower house, so Nancy Pelosi.
Not between 2010 and 2018. We have to consider worst cases.
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Old 12th September 2020, 03:22 PM   #11
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The advantage of a Parliamentary system is that the PM can be turfed out by his party if he gets out of control.

The disadvantage is that if one party controls the lower house (and especially if it controls the upper house as well) then the PM has a huge amount of power and there is no check on the legislation that might get passed.

Assuming that the US has no plans to return to the Monarchy, there is also the issue of how much power the President would have in a Parliamentary system and how he would be appointed.
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Old 12th September 2020, 03:29 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
The writer makes the case that the U.S. would be better served with a parliamentary system, like most other Western democracies.

https://nationalinterest.org/feature...rliament-17220
A parliamentary system of government is preferable to a presidential system. Parliamentary systems are common throughout much of Europe, South Asia and many former British colonies. Parliamentary systems are characterized by executives, usually called prime ministers, who derive their legitimacy from an assembly or legislature, usually called a parliament, after the “mother of parliaments,” in Britain. The executive is the head of government and is usually a member of the legislature and also held accountable to that legislature.
Discuss.
I think Americans could get behind the idea just as long as it is the biggest most badass Parliament in history - truly the mother of all parliaments.
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Old 12th September 2020, 04:53 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
First, we would need to take out that stupid "i".
This.

lol
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Old 12th September 2020, 05:00 PM   #14
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Parliamentary systems don't have to account for Federalism.

The American Congressional System is completely intertwined with the idea that each state is quasi-independent country onto-itself.

And our political parties are so adversarial we're a few elections cycles at most from just renaming the majority party "The Prosecution" and the minority party "The Defense" to save time on the paperwork.
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Old 12th September 2020, 05:10 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
The advantage of a Parliamentary system is that the PM can be turfed out by his party if he gets out of control.

The disadvantage is that if one party controls the lower house (and especially if it controls the upper house as well) then the PM has a huge amount of power and there is no check on the legislation that might get passed.

Assuming that the US has no plans to return to the Monarchy, there is also the issue of how much power the President would have in a Parliamentary system and how he would be appointed.
Why should there be a check on the legislation?
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Old 12th September 2020, 07:10 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Why should there be a check on the legislation?
The government can do some really stupid things and there is not much anyone can do until the election. The only thing that can be done is if the party members realize they are about to lose the election and turf out the PM. This is what has happened to every Australian PM after John Howard. He was the last PM to last a full term.
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Old 12th September 2020, 08:31 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Why should there be a check on the legislation?
Imagine Donald Trump in control of Parliament.
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Old 12th September 2020, 08:43 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Parliamentary systems don't have to account for Federalism.

The American Congressional System is completely intertwined with the idea that each state is quasi-independent country onto-itself.
....
As I understand them, Germany and India, and maybe others, have parliamentary federal systems comprising states that have their own legislatures and governments.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Germany
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_India

If the U.S. had a parliamentary system, it wouldn't change state governments, or the fact that congresspersons would represent districts within states, or that senators would represent states. Executive authority would be allocated differently.
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Old 12th September 2020, 09:28 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
As I understand them, Germany and India, and maybe others, have parliamentary federal systems comprising states that have their own legislatures and governments.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Germany
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_India

If the U.S. had a parliamentary system, it wouldn't change state governments, or the fact that congresspersons would represent districts within states, or that senators would represent states. Executive authority would be allocated differently.
When the current US system was developed it was a deliberate choice to separate powers between three branches, and have them balance each other. Going parliamentary would reduce the power of the executive, unbalancing the powers. They weren't stupid when they designed this thing--they'd tried different ways before (nobody ever seems to remember the Articles of Confederation!) and they didn't work out.
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Old 12th September 2020, 09:51 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
When the current US system was developed it was a deliberate choice to separate powers between three branches, and have them balance each other. Going parliamentary would reduce the power of the executive, unbalancing the powers. They weren't stupid when they designed this thing--they'd tried different ways before (nobody ever seems to remember the Articles of Confederation!) and they didn't work out.
Actually the system was designed that way because at the time the King was still a powerful Monarch. It seemed only natural that the President would have at least the same powers. The articles of confederation was a different beast altogether.

The US congressional system is one of the few systems that gave the President a lot of power but didn't devolve into a dictatorship (like Russia). In most parliamentary republics, the President is mostly ceremonial only.
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Old 13th September 2020, 12:47 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
The UK system is first past the post and is almost as much a two party system as the US one.
Not quite. As you say, there are occasions where third parties have influence in the UK. Not in this current government, but the reason we had an election last year so soon after the previous one was precisely because the distribution of power meant no one party could force their own agendas through parliament and none of them could agree on what the correct course of action was.

It was literally only 5 years ago that our government was a coalition between two parties.

Yes, there are problems with first past the post and yes power is concentrated too much in two parties, but it's not even remotely comparable to the US system on that front.
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Old 13th September 2020, 12:51 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
First, we would need to take out that stupid "i".
I mean, I know Americans can't handle spelling and pronouncing things properly but, if you really must, then you should probably take out the "a" instead.
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Old 13th September 2020, 12:53 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Parliamentary systems don't have to account for Federalism.

The American Congressional System is completely intertwined with the idea that each state is quasi-independent country onto-itself.
Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales would like a word with you.
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Old 13th September 2020, 04:35 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Parliamentary systems don't have to account for Federalism.
The German Bundesrat is an example of how a modern democracy can deal with federalism and the representation of smaller states.

Quote:
The number of votes a state is allocated is based on a form of degressive proportionality according to its population. This way, smaller states have more votes than a distribution proportional to the population would grant. The allocation of votes is regulated by the German constitution (Grundgesetz).[5] All of a state's votes are cast en bloc—either for or against or in abstention of a proposal. Each state is allocated at least three votes, and a maximum of six. States with more than

2 million inhabitants have 4 votes,
6 million inhabitants have 5 votes,
7 million inhabitants have 6 votes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundesrat_of_Germany
Still strongly over represents small states, but less absurdly so than the US Senate.
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Old 13th September 2020, 04:50 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Imagine Donald Trump in control of Parliament.
But the prime minister doesn't control parliament, right? It is the reverse?
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Old 13th September 2020, 03:24 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
But the prime minister doesn't control parliament, right? It is the reverse?
If the PM's party have a voting majority they control Parliament.
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Old 13th September 2020, 03:26 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by RolandRat View Post
If the PM's party have a voting majority they control Parliament.
I have no objection to the majority of parliament controlling it. But the person talked of one person controlling parliament.
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Old 13th September 2020, 07:28 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
The advantage of a Parliamentary system is that the PM can be turfed out by his party if he gets out of control.
Not sure of all parliamentary democracies work the same way...

But in Canada, the Prime Minister has significant power, including the ability to block a particular MP from running again. The fact that the prime minister can dictate the fate of an individual MP makes any sort of rebellion a lot less likely.
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Old 13th September 2020, 07:33 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Quote:
The concept makes sense, and it seems to work well in other countries. The downside is the possibility of a Prime Minister Mitch McConnell or Kevin McCarthy
The British PM is a member of the lower house, so Nancy Pelosi.
That is assuming that after converting to a 'parliamentary democracy' that the districts (or ridings) in the lower house follow along the same pattern (i.e. roughly proportional to population) as current house congressional districts.

Here in Canada, we do have a 'senate', but it does not have significant authority (at least in practice). And in our house, rural and suburban ridings have more geographic area but smaller populations. So sort of like the Electoral college, less populated provinces have more influence. That might give the advantage to the Republicans.
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Old 13th September 2020, 07:36 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
Not sure of all parliamentary democracies work the same way...

But in Canada, the Prime Minister has significant power, including the ability to block a particular MP from running again. The fact that the prime minister can dictate the fate of an individual MP makes any sort of rebellion a lot less likely.
US citizen here (though I think I'm a Canadian citizen, too, my dad only ever had a US green card)...

Why do parliaments give so much power to PMs? If I were an MP, I would like to exercise my supremacy.
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Old 13th September 2020, 09:32 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
Not sure of all parliamentary democracies work the same way...

But in Canada, the Prime Minister has significant power, including the ability to block a particular MP from running again. The fact that the prime minister can dictate the fate of an individual MP makes any sort of rebellion a lot less likely.
That cannot happen here... only the Party (not the Parliamentary representatives) have the right to decide who runs and who doesn't - in a sense, it is somewhat like the US primaries except that you have to be a member of the party to have a vote.
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Old 13th September 2020, 09:42 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
That cannot happen here... only the Party (not the Parliamentary representatives) have the right to decide who runs and who doesn't - in a sense, it is somewhat like the US primaries except that you have to be a member of the party to have a vote.
That is both good and bad.

Good because it can keep the prime minister from having too much power, bad because it can mean some deplorable people can be nominated just because they are in a part of the country that likes deplorable ideas.

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Old 13th September 2020, 10:02 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
US citizen here (though I think I'm a Canadian citizen, too, my dad only ever had a US green card)...

Why do parliaments give so much power to PMs? If I were an MP, I would like to exercise my supremacy.
I think it's just a result of how the system evolved. Unlike the United States (where they had a specific government design planned layed out in the constitution), the British/Canadian system sort of evolved over time, without planning, from an unelected group with minimal power (which didn't even have a prime minister at the time) to the current system.

It works because the voters seem to be smart enough to not select total morons as leaders.

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Old 13th September 2020, 10:10 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
That is both good and bad.

Good because it can keep the prime minister from having too much power, bad because it can mean some deplorable people can be nominated just because they are in a part of the country that likes deplorable ideas.

Oh, you mean like

Marjorie Taylor Greene (qanon)
Steve King (racist & bigot)
Chris Collins (Fraudster, Inside trader)
Duncan Hunter (Fraud)
Donald Trump (Racist, Bigot, Fraudster, Tax dodger, misogynist and serial liar)
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Old 14th September 2020, 12:19 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
But the prime minister doesn't control parliament, right? It is the reverse?
The PM decides when Parliament sits and when elections are held. The PM also decides who gets to be minister of what.

The Parliamentary wing of the party may have some input into the legislative agenda but that is still largely controlled by the PM. As long as the party is unwilling to change PMs, the PM remains the boss.

Unless there is a minority government, the PM's party is in control of at least the lower house and any government legislation is guaranteed a free ride in that house.
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Old 14th September 2020, 12:27 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
Not sure of all parliamentary democracies work the same way...

But in Canada, the Prime Minister has significant power, including the ability to block a particular MP from running again. The fact that the prime minister can dictate the fate of an individual MP makes any sort of rebellion a lot less likely.
Is that written into Canadian law is that just a practice of the parties?

In Australia, it is usually the party branches that choose who will run in their local electorate although the party executives may have some input. If the PM has any say about it then it is usually indirect and behind the scenes.
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Old 14th September 2020, 01:11 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Unless there is a minority government, the PM's party is in control of at least the lower house and any government legislation is guaranteed a free ride in that house.
That's assuming that the whip is applied and that ministers comply with the whip. There are any number of instances of ministers voting against legislation from their own party, at least here in the UK. There are rumblings, in fact, that despite having a massive majority the Tories are in danger of losing the next vote.

Mind you, politicians used to vote against their own parties in the US, too.
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Old 14th September 2020, 01:13 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Is that written into Canadian law is that just a practice of the parties?

In Australia, it is usually the party branches that choose who will run in their local electorate although the party executives may have some input. If the PM has any say about it then it is usually indirect and behind the scenes.
In the UK the PM can remove the whip from any MP. They can then still stand for election, but would have to do so either as an independent candidate, or after joining a different party.
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Old 14th September 2020, 01:22 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
There are any number of instances of ministers voting against legislation from their own party, at least here in the UK.
Any minister not willing to support a Cabinet decision is usually expected to resign (or is dismissed by the PM).

Backbenchers sometimes vote against a government bill but rarely if the majority is narrow (unless a conscience vote is permitted). Disagreements over bills are more often settled in the party room first.
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Old 14th September 2020, 02:39 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Any minister not willing to support a Cabinet decision is usually expected to resign (or is dismissed by the PM).

Backbenchers sometimes vote against a government bill but rarely if the majority is narrow (unless a conscience vote is permitted). Disagreements over bills are more often settled in the party room first.
Not the case in the UK: here's how it works here.
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