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Electoral Systems and Elections. The Structure of the Political Process. British Elections. Members of Parliament (MPs) are the only national officials that British voters select Elections must be held at least every 5 years, but Prime Minister may call them earlier

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electoral systems and elections

Electoral Systems and Elections

The Structure of the Political Process

british elections
British Elections
  • Members of Parliament (MPs) are the only national officials that British voters select
  • Elections must be held at least every 5 years, but Prime Minister may call them earlier
  • Officially elections occur after the Crown dissolves Parliament, but that always happens after the Prime Minister requests it
  • Power to call elections very important – the Prime Minister always calls elections when they think that the majority party has the best chance to win
elections ii
Elections II
  • “Winner-take-all” system
  • Single-member district plurality system
  • Each party selects a candidate to run for each district
  • “First-past-the-post” winner
  • MPs do not have to live in the district in which they are running, therefore party selects who runs in what districts
  • Party leaders run from safe districts – or districts that the party almost always wins
  • Political neophytes are selected to run in districts the party know it will lose
  • They are usually happy just to receive more votes than the party usually gets in that district
voting patterns
Voting Patterns
  • Conservative Party
    • Middle and upper classes
    • Educated
    • Residents of England, mostly rural and suburban areas
  • Labour Party
    • Traditionally supported by working class
    • Residents of urban and industrial areas (Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle)
    • “Third Way” centrist policies have made Labour Party appealing to Scots, Welsh, and the poor
prime minister cabinet
Prime Minister & Cabinet
  • Cabinet
    • Collective cabinet is the center of policy-making in the British political system
    • As leaders of majority party elected by the people, they take “collective responsibility” for making the policy of the country
  • Prime Minister
    • “First among equals”
    • Member of Parliament and Leader of majority party
    • Speaks legitimately for all Members of Parliament
    • Chooses cabinet ministers and important subordinate posts
    • Makes decisions in cabinet, with agreement of ministers
    • Campaigns for and represents the party in parliamentary elections
    • Shapes cabinet decisions into policy
parliament

Parliament

House of Commons

Party that receives the majority of the plurality of the votes becomes the Majority Party in Parliament, also known as “the Government” party with the second most votes becomes the “loyal opposition”

house of commons set up
House of Commons:Set-up
  • House of Commons set-up with long benches facing each other
  • Prime Minister sits on front bench of majority side, directly in the middle
  • Directly across from the PM sits the leader of the “opposition” party
  • Between members of the majority and opposition parties is a long table
  • Cabinet members sit on the front rows of the majority party side
  • “Shadow Cabinet” – influential members of the opposition party sit facing Cabinet members of majority party on the opposing side
  • Backbenchers – less influential members of both parties sit in the rear benches on both sides of the meeting hall as well
house of commons debate
House of Commons:Debate
  • “Government” – consists of MPs on the first rows of the majority party side, they are majority party members, including the PM, that are most influential in making policy
  • Question Time/Question Hour – the hour the prime minister and his cabinet must defend themselves from inquisitive attacks from the opposition party as well as direct inquiry from members of his/her own party
  • Speaker of the House – presides over the debates in Parliament, the speaker is suppose to be objective and often is not a member of the majority party. Their job is to let all speak without letting the debate get out of hand.
  • Because of a lack of checks & balances between branches in British politics the opposition party is seen as the “check” on the majority party within Parliament, this “check” power is best utilized during times of debate over policy
party discipline
Party Discipline
  • Party discipline very important in British politics
  • If party members do not support their party leadership, the “government” may fall into crisis
  • Vote of Confidence
    • Vote on a key issue within the party
    • If the issue is not supported, the cabinet by tradition must resign immediately, and new elections for MPs must be held as soon as possible
    • This is usually avoided by settling policy differences within majority party membership
    • If the party loses a vote of confidence, all MPs lose their jobs, so there is plenty of motivation to vote the party line
house of lords
House of Lords
  • Only hereditary parliamentary house in existence today
    • Hereditary peers: hold seats that have been passed down through family ties over the centuries
    • Life peers: people appointed to nonhereditary positions as a result of distinguished service to Britain
  • Lords have gradually declined in authority over last 4 centuries
  • Since the beginning of the 20th century the House of Lords’ only powers are:
    • To delay legislation
    • To debate technicalities of proposed bills
    • Lords may add amendments to legislation, but House of Commons may delete their changes by a simple majority vote
    • The House of Lords includes five law lords who serve as Britain’s highest court of appeals, but they cannot rule acts of Parliament unconstitutional
mexican elections
Mexican Elections
  • Citizens in Mexico directly elect the president, Chamber of Deputy Representatives, and Senators as well as most local & state officials
  • Elections are generally competitive, specifically in urban areas
  • Members of congress elected through dual system of “first-past-the-post” and proportional representation
      • Proportional representation was increased in a major reform law in 1986, a change that gave power to political parties that challenged PRI control
  • Each of Mexico’s 31 states elects three senators, 2 are determined by majority vote, the other is determined by whichever party receives the second highest number of votes
  • 32 senate seats are determined nationally through a system of proportional representation that divides the seats according to the number of votes cast for each party (128 Senate seats in total)
  • In the Chamber of Deputies, 300 seats are determined by plurality within single-member districts, and 200 are chosen by proportional representation
election of 2000
Election of 2000
  • PAN/PRD candidate Vicente Fox won presidency (43% of the vote compared to 36% garnered for PRI candidate Francisco Labastida)
  • PAN captured 208 of 500 deputies in lower house
  • PRI captured 209 deputy seats in the lower house
  • PAN won 46 senate seats; PRI won 60 senate seats
  • New, competitive election system has encouraged coalitions to form to the right & left of the PRI
  • Split in votes has encourage gridlock, phenomenon unknown to Mexico under the old PRI-controlled governments
  • Election of 2006 – closely contested election, won by PAN candidate Felipe Calderon by narrow margin over PRD candidate Andres Lopez Obrador
executive branch
Executive Branch
  • Center of policy-making
  • Sexenio: non-renewable six-year term (Under PRI similar to dictator)
      • Selected successor
      • Appointed officials to all positions of power in the government
      • Named PRI candidates for other public offices
  • Until mid-1970s Mexican presidents were above criticism and people revered them as symbols of national progress and well-being
      • Managed huge patronage system
      • Control over “rubber-stamp” Congress
  • President Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) –relinquished number of traditional powers of the president, including naming the PRI candidate for the 2000 election
  • President Fox inherited the presidency in a time of transition
      • President still viewed as all powerful, but blamed for shortcomings
      • Harder for Fox to accomplish political goals without strong party support in the post-PRI Congress
legislature
Legislature
  • Bicameral
      • Chamber of Deputies (500-member)
          • 300 deputies from single-member districts (plurality)
          • 200 deputies chosen by proportional representation
      • Senate (128-member)
          • 3 senators from each of the 31 states & the federal district(96)
          • Remaining 32 selected by proportional representation
  • All legislators directly elected
  • Until 1980s legislature remained under strict control of the president
  • PRI’s lost hold on legislature earlier than it did on the presidency
  • Lost majority in the Chamber of Deputies in 1997
  • Women in both houses has risen significantly since 1996 election law required parties to sponsor female candidates
      • Parties must run at least 30% female candidates for proportional representation and single-member district elections
      • 113 of 500 deputies in Chamber are female
      • 20 of 128 Senators are also female
election of 2006
Election of 2006
  • PAN candidate Felipe Calderon secured 35.9% of the vote
  • PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador received 35.3% of the vote
  • PRI candidate Roberto Madrazo received 22% of the vote
  • The extremely close election was contested by PRD candidate AMLO, but was quickly confirmed and approved by the Federal Electoral Institute
  • Despite a brief period of protest from PRD supporters, Calderon was sworn in as president
  • Elections were also held for the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate in 2006
  • 500 members are elected every three years (300 by the first-past-the-post system and 200 by proportional representation) to serve for a three-year term in the Chamber of Deputies.
  • 128 members (three per state by first-past-the-post and 32 by proportional representation from national party lists) to serve six-year terms in the Senate. In each state, two first-past-the-post seats are allocated to the party with the largest share of the vote, and the remaining seat is given to the first runner-up
2009 election chamber of deputies
2009 Election - Chamber of Deputies
  • 300 "majority deputies" are directly elected by plurality from single-member districts (Federal Electoral Districts).
  • The remaining 200 "party deputies" are assigned through proportional representation. These seats are not tied to districts; rather, they are allocated to parties based on each party\'s share of the national vote.
  • The 200 party deputies are intended to counterbalance the sectional interests of the district-based representatives.
  • The Chamber of Deputies is completely replaced every three years since all seats are subject to reelection and deputies are not permitted to serve consecutive terms.
  • Congressional elections held halfway into the president\'s six year mandate are known as mid-term elections.
2009 midterm results
2009 Midterm Results
  • The PRI regained control of the Chamber of Deputies by receiving 36.7% of the popular vote and securing 241 seats (48% of seats)
  • The PAN received 28% of the vote and 147 seats (29% of the seats)
  • The PRD received 12% of the vote and 72 seats (14% of the seats)
  • The PRI netted a gain of 135 seats from the previous legislative session and the PAN & PRD each lost over 50 seats
xiii nigerian elections electoral procedures
XIII. Nigerian Elections & Electoral Procedures
  • Citizens vote for candidates on 3 levels: local, state, and national.
  • National level citizens vote for the president, representatives to the National Assembly, and senators from their states.
  • National Elections
      • Presidential Elections
        • After annulled election of 1993, first election took place in 1999, with another in 2003.
        • If presidential candidate does not receive outright majority, a second ballot election takes place.
        • President must receive at least 25% of the votes in 2/3 of the states
          • A purely regional candidate can not win
          • Requirement reflects difficulty experienced in attempt to unify Nigeria
elections continued
Elections Continued
  • Legislative Elections (National Assembly)
      • Senate has 109 senators, 3 from each of the 36 states, and one from federal capital territory of Abuja
          • Elected by direct popular vote
      • 360 representatives of the House of Representatives
          • Elected from single member districts by plurality vote
      • Regional representation dominates in both houses.
      • Wide-array of ethnic coalitions in legislature
      • Legislative authority is weak in Nigeria
election fraud
Election Fraud
  • Currently 3 consecutive elections have been held without annulment or delay
  • Public protest and several deaths have accompanied the last few elections, but none were as bad as many predicted they would be
  • Several politicians were assassinated, including Marshall Harry, a leader of the ANPP
    • Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
      • Attempted to cleanse electoral process, declared six million names to be fraudulent during 2003 elections
      • International teams concluded elections were corrupt
      • Voting boxes were stolen, vandalized, and stuffed with fraudulent votes
      • Voting patterns in the south in particular were suspicious
2007 nigerian election
2007Nigerian Election
  • 2007 elections included the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) & the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), but the Alliance for Democracy Party merged with several smaller parties to form the New Action Congress
  • The PDP received 70% of the votes in the presidential election – Umaru Yar’Adua was victorious
  • Yar’Adua’s election represents the first civilian to civilian transfer of power in Nigerian history as Yar’Adua took over for Obasanjo
  • It was not without controversy however, as Yar’Adua was relatively unknown and only received his party’s nomination after Obasanjo forced all challengers to step down
  • This was after the Nigerian Senate had denied Obasanjo the chance to run for a third term by rejecting his constitutional amendment in 2006 to extend term limits
2007 nigerian legislative election
2007 Nigerian Legislative Election
  • The PDP achieved a strong majority in both chambers of the legislature
  • PDP won 77% of the seats in the Senate
  • PDP won 72% of the seats in the House of Representatives
chinese elections
Chinese Elections

CCP has effective veto power over the election process. It controls the commissions that run elections and it reviews the lists of proposed candidates

Direct elections and indirect elections

Direct election turnout is heavy (over 90%)

All citizens over 18 may vote

Since the 1980s there have been multiple candidates on the ballot (before the only protest vote was to abstain)

Independent candidates have beaten the CCP endorsed candidates (but they have to be approved by the CCP to be put on the ballot in the first place)

The most democratic advances in elections have occurred in rural villages where multi-candidate, secret ballot elections are the norm (although still monitored closely by the CCP)

The CCP says that multiparty elections would not work well in China because of the country’s low level of education and economic development, and its poor communication system. ( There’s also the fear of losing power, chaos, and potential civil war that could be ignited)

russian elections
Russian Elections
  • 3 types
    • Referendum
    • Duma Elections
    • Presidential Elections
united russia dominates recent russian elections
United Russia dominates recent Russian elections
  • Founded in April 2001
  • Merger between “Fatherland All-Russia” Party and the “United Party of Russia”
    • United Party put together by oligarch Boris Berezovsky and other entrepreneurs to support Putin in the election of 2000
  • Merger put even more political support behind Putin
  • United Russia won 221 of the 450 Duma seats in 2004 elections
  • Putin won re-election in 2004 as the United Russia candidate
  • United Russia is hard to define other than that it is pro-Putin
2007 duma elections
2007 Duma Elections
  • As a result of Putin’s legislative reform initiative of 2005 all 450 Duma seats would now be based on proportional representation
  • The minimum threshold for a party to receive seats was raised from 5% to 7% in an attempt to minimize the political influence of small parties and promote United Russia domination in the legislature
  • The “against all” option was also removed from the ballot
  • Only officially registered parties were allowed to compete and two or more parties were not allowed to form coalitions in order to clear the 7% threshold
  • United Russia won 315 seats on 64% of the popular vote, this represent a net gain of 92 seats in the Duma from the 2003 elections
  • The Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia finished second and third respectively by securing 57 and 40 seats each.
  • Fair Russia was the only other party to clear the 7% voter threshold
  • In 2008, United Russia made it a clean sweep when their candidate, Dmitri Medvedev won the presidential election by receiving 70% of the votes
  • Putin currently serves as Medvedev’s prime minister
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