Author Topic: A Democracy without a Parliament?!?!?  (Read 5877 times)

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ecocks

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A Democracy without a Parliament?!?!?
« on: 16:23 07-Sep-2007 »
Claus commented that he didn't get how America could have a successful democracy without the parliamentary system.  I'll attempt a layman's response in the interest of getting discussion underway.  But, hey, if anyone else that knows it better or if I don't get it right, chip in.

As I understand the difference and the reasoning TODAY, it compensates by having the three branches with separate powers which are supposed to "check and balance" each other.  For instance, the elected legislatures [LEGISLATIVE] can enact legislation by simple majority votes (on most issues) but the President [EXECUTIVE] has the power to veto them.  That constitutes a check on the power of the LEGISLATIVE branch by the EXECUTIVE.  BUT, if the legislatures can muster enough votes they can still force the bill past the President - another check, but this one balances power between the two branches.  THEN, the Supreme Court [JUDICIAL] whose judges are appointed for life by several Presidents [EXECUTIVE] with the approval of the one of the legislatures [LEGISLATIVE] can consider whether the law is legal or not and, from time to time, void the law by declaring it to be proscribed by the Constitution.  Again, a check which is supposed to provide balance between the branches.

As I understand the basic Parliamentary system, there are only two groups - LEGISLATIVE and JUDICIAL rather than three. The executive function is carried out by a Prime Minister who is actually a serving member of the legislature. It would seem that it is easier to have a three-way check and balance system rather than a two-way. 

That make sense or do we still need one of those "HUH?" buttons?


Offline Packman

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Re: A Democracy without a Parliament?!?!?
« Reply #1 on: 16:47 07-Sep-2007 »
Ed:

You forgot about the 4th branch of gov't that the US has...Dick Cheney of course, not part of the legislative, not part of the executive... :o

Offline Claus

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Re: A Democracy without a Parliament?!?!?
« Reply #2 on: 22:52 07-Sep-2007 »
Thanks Ed, it makes sense - or at least is an understandable explanation.

One correction, though: In a parlamentarian system (UK, Denmark, Norway, Sweden) there are still three strings:
Legislative (parlament)
Juridical (courts)
Executive, which is the head of state (in all above countries queen or king) and not the prime minister; because the government and its head is 'just' the p.t. leader of the legislative string, and the p.t. 'manager' of state administration (and we don't have 'the spoils system').
j'y suis, j'y reste!

Offline Packman

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Re: A Democracy without a Parliament?!?!?
« Reply #3 on: 23:10 07-Sep-2007 »
Claus,

By Ed's definition, you missed a very subtle point which is this.  In your system the parliament serves as the Legislative, because it make the laws AND the Executive because it oversees executing/implementing these laws. 

I don't think your King/Queen is responsible for law implementation and thus can't be considered "Executive" even if actions are taken in his/her name.

So lets consider you have three branches of gov't servinig 4 functions.

Parliament:  Legislative & Executive
Courts:  Judicial
King/Queen:  Ceremonial

Actually in the US, (leaving Dick Cheney out for a moment) one might consider we have 3 branches serving 4 functions as well

Congress: Legislative
Courts: Judicial
President:  Executive and Ceremonial

Hope this helps.


Offline Claus

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Re: A Democracy without a Parliament?!?!?
« Reply #4 on: 00:00 08-Sep-2007 »
Pack,

No - our parlament (Folketinget) is by our constitution forbidden to be executive, and for us this is a very important point. There are very strong 'walls' between the three power-strings, for us the main issue is not the balance but the prevention of overlap - because, as the fathers of the Danish constitution saw it, overlaps mean power-concentration which would end democracy (however we define democracy).

Probably, seen from a non-monarchy it can be difficult to understand what the real role of the Queen/King is. Believe me, even where royal power is reduced most (Sweden), it's still a guarantee for continuity and honesty. It's more than just ceremonial - perhaps the right word is 'honor' - not for nice & noble reasons, but these people know that their children and grandchildren and greatgrandchildren will rule - they think of the future, not just of the next election.

And it IS a fact, that in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (I know less about the UK and the other European monarchies), the Queen/King is the ultimate decision maker concerning executive power. No, they do not make many of the decisions - naturally - but they do control, ensure, and guarantee (by their right to deny signing appointments) that administration is neutral (appointed by qualifications and not by political pull), and that the prime minister plus her/his government adhere to parlamentary principles (meaning, step down when there is a parlament majority against them), and that the people is asked when needed - referendums and extraordinary parlament elections.

Well, on another note - you have to admit that it's far more stylish when a King or Queen takes a parade, than when Bush or the Kremlin-based midget don't really know what to do, to behave as if they were a comrade of the soldiers, or as if they are a head of state (and what heads!)  ;D
j'y suis, j'y reste!

Offline Packman

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Re: A Democracy without a Parliament?!?!?
« Reply #5 on: 08:59 08-Sep-2007 »
Claus,

Ok, interesting, who is the executive then in Denmark?  Isn't it the PM who is a member of the Parliament???

No offense but I think Kings and Queens and the like are a little silly.  Maybe I'd feel differently if it were an elected position...I think they historically had that only in Poland.

Incidentally Bush doesn't know what to do at all not just at parades!

ecocks

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Re: A Democracy without a Parliament?!?!?
« Reply #6 on: 09:16 08-Sep-2007 »
Claus:

So, we are not disthe Kremlin-based midgetg who does what just pointing up what we see as one of the most important perceived differences.   To the American POV, accepting Packman (D) and myself (R) as representatives of the American POV of course, it appears that since the PM is a member of the legislature that it effectively merged the EXECUTIVE function into the legislative.  In THEORY, being able to elect the head of the EXECUTIVE (who appoints all those Secretary/Ministers who are NOT members of the LEGISLATIVE plus the Supreme Court judges - for life remember) gives our electorate the ability to vote several times to achieve an end result.  We elect the legislative body and the executive (supposedly) based upon their positions on the issues.  Hence the people can get elect a strong defense/offense EXECUTIVE to administer the bureaucracy and military OR a strong domestic/social issues one as the situation seems to require.  We do not entrust the LEGISLATIVE branch to look over all their members and select a CEO from all the others.

Ed

Offline Packman

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Re: A Democracy without a Parliament?!?!?
« Reply #7 on: 22:56 08-Sep-2007 »
Actually if you want to look at it very critically, in the US system there is a bit of overlap because the president does need to sign laws or can veto laws.  So there is a little bit of legislative in the president, so its not totally cut and dry, nevertheless its a far cry from the parliamentary system where the legislative and executive are merged.

ecocks

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Re: Overlapping functions
« Reply #8 on: 06:20 09-Sep-2007 »

And there are quite a few committees who exercise limited executive functions on certain agencies (Defense, Intelligence, Federal Reserve, Treasury, and so on) but these are usually advisory to either the President or the head of that agency just as the President may propose a piece of legislation but it goes nowhere until a sitting member of one of the houses puts their name on it as a sponsor.

Offline Claus

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Re: A Democracy without a Parliament?!?!?
« Reply #9 on: 21:09 09-Sep-2007 »
Friends, I state nothing about the USA system - except that I honestly (still) don't get it.
But you seem to misunderstand certain essentials about the (European) parlamentary system.
for instance, that no member of government, not even the PM has necessarily to be a member of parlament. In modern times (meaning my lifetime  ::)) the governments of UK, Denmark, Norway, and other monarchies have had members (ministers we call it, you call it secretaries, right?) who were not elected to parlament. In CZ this went so far, that for a while even the PM was not a member of parlament.
Remember the definition of parlamentarism: The government steps down if, after honest and severe attempts, the majority of parlament declares against this government. A majority is not needed, but it is neded that a majority against does not exist.
j'y suis, j'y reste!

Offline Claus

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Re: A Democracy without a Parliament?!?!?
« Reply #10 on: 21:38 09-Sep-2007 »
Claus:

In THEORY, being able to elect the head of the EXECUTIVE (who appoints all those Secretary/Ministers who are NOT members of the LEGISLATIVE plus the Supreme Court judges - for life remember) gives our electorate the ability to vote several times to achieve an end result.  We elect the legislative body and the executive (supposedly) based upon their positions on the issues.  Hence the people can get elect a strong defense/offense EXECUTIVE to administer the bureaucracy and military OR a strong domestic/social issues one as the situation seems to require.  We do not entrust the LEGISLATIVE branch to look over all their members and select a CEO from all the others.

Yes - but to me this is thinking of a long-ago past. I fully recognise the innovativeness and courage - then! When the USA was a tiny, young, revolutionary baby.

But, today?
j'y suis, j'y reste!

Offline Claus

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Re: A Democracy without a Parliament?!?!?
« Reply #11 on: 22:06 09-Sep-2007 »
Claus,

Ok, interesting, who is the executive then in Denmark?  Isn't it the PM who is a member of the Parliament?

No, the PM is NOT executive in DK - in theory the Head of state (right now The Queen Margrethe) is. But reality is that in DK administation (executive) is independent and self-supplementatary, based on qualifications. We have no spoils-system, and no corruption either. Yes, it did happen once or twice that government tried to take over executive power - but the king/queen immediately enforced parlament elections and/or referendum, and every time Danes said clearly 'no' to executive government. Which also happened every time politicians attempted to integrate Denmark too much in the EU (we Danes are not very federal.. 8))
« Last Edit: 22:10 09-Sep-2007 by Claus »
j'y suis, j'y reste!

Offline Claus

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just a historical note...
« Reply #12 on: 22:32 09-Sep-2007 »
.  Maybe I'd feel differently if it were an elected position...I think they historically had that only in Poland.

All (European) kingdoms and empires were, originally and most of the time - electorate.
It was of course nobility chosing the king - except in Scandinavia, where axes and swords did it.

Anyhow, heads of states in Europe were elected almost always until around 1650; and Poland went down to destruction due to the 'liberum veto', because the idiots maintained the idea of a, 'nobility-republic' governed by a balance of redundent, degenerate land-owners for a hundred years after, all and everybody else had given that idea up.

j'y suis, j'y reste!

ecocks

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Re: The Devil is in the Definitions
« Reply #13 on: 06:46 10-Sep-2007 »

As in so many communication issues we need to recognize that globally accepted definitions can almost always be challenged when applied to a specific example.  Claus provides detail based upon his experience with the Danish system. Since Pack and I are not from one of these systems and (apparently) are not political science majors, we are forced to look for definitions of unfamiliar terms.  Generally, the evaluation of parliamentarianism in comparison to other forms of government includes the points Pack and I were bringing up.  Who is to say one is better or worse than the other?  The whole point is to achieve understanding, which is where discussion and consideration come in handy.

As a result, we based our comments on write-ups like the one below from the popular Wikipedia site:

A parliamentary system, also known as parliamentarianism (and parliamentarism in U.S. English), is distinguished by the executive branch of government being dependent on the direct or indirect support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. Hence, there is no clear-cut separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches, leading to a differing set of checks and balances compared to those found in a presidential republic. Parliamentary systems usually have a clear differentiation between the head of government and the head of state, with the head of government being the prime minister or premier, and the head of state often being an elected (either popularly or through parliament) president or hereditary monarch. Though in Parliamentary systems the prime minister and cabinet will exercise executive power on a day-to-day basis, actual authority will usually be bestowed in the head of state, giving them many codified or uncodified reserve powers, providing some balance to these systems.

Offline Claus

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Re: A Democracy without a Parliament?!?!?
« Reply #14 on: 08:32 10-Sep-2007 »
That's nice, Ed - agreeing with all of us!

Though in Parliamentary systems the prime minister and cabinet will exercise executive power on a day-to-day basis, actual authority will usually be bestowed in the head of state, giving them many codified or uncodified reserve powers, providing some balance to these systems.

This sentence gives what we together have been saying!  ;D
j'y suis, j'y reste!