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Social Choice Session 17. Carmen Pasca and John Hey. The US Constitution. This lecture begins with the question “what is the importance of knowledge of the different constitutional systems and the implicit and explicit forms of state and of government?”.

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social choice session 17

Social Choice Session 17

Carmen Pasca and John Hey

the us constitution
The US Constitution
  • This lecture begins with the question “what is the importance of knowledge of the different constitutional systems and the implicit and explicit forms of state and of government?”.
  • The Constitution is important because it determines the fundamental organization of the state.
  • The drafting of constitutions is part of a process that includes several aspects: historical, social, political and legal.
  • In a historical perspective, the first act of the state is one that leads to the formation of the Constitution, in which is created the law as the legal act.
the us constitution1
The US Constitution
  • Law in a state is born of the need to regulate social relations that arise in the exercise of power from the state.
  • The law contains the rules instituted and sanctioned by the state.
  • Another key element is the history of the nation and its collective memory; here are the individual consciousnesses that produce the story.
  • Collective memory is the expression of the tensions of the stories.
  • A second key element is precedence of the Constitutions: “which are the institutions that are above the Constitution”.
the us constitution2
The US Constitution
  • The legislative body:
  • House of Representatives: the U.S. House of Representatives, along with the Senate, forms the United States Congress and is one of the bodies of legislative power.
  • It represents the citizens within the Union. Its headquarters are located in the southern part of Capitol in Washington.
  • In the House of Representatives, the chamber votes federal laws and holds the initiative to vote on national income. It can also vote the U.S. President if no majority can be found except the electors.
  • can be found except the electors.
the us constitution3
The US Constitution
  • The current number of representatives is 435. According to the Constitution, the number of representatives shall not be more than one for every thirty thousand inhabitants (the Senate number is set at two per state). This number is proportional to the population size of each state. The states that have more than one representative, divides the states into state congressional districts, which must have a population almost equal in number, and each nominate a

representative.

  • The "Voting Rights Act” prohibits Member States from "gerrymandering" (realignment) of the districts to reduce the arbitrary power of minorities.
the us constitution4
The US Constitution
  • The use of realignment of divisions for political gain to release is not prohibited even these will cause the creation of districts sociologically or racially homogeneous. Because of this phenomenon, less than 10% of the total seats in the House of Representatives are seriously contested at each election. More than 90% of the members of the House are almost guaranteed to be re-elected every two years because of the lack of electoral competition.
  • This system is criticized for being contrary to democratic principles, that is, one which implies a healthy competition.

.

the us constitution5
The US Constitution
  • Representatives are elected for two years by direct universal suffrage and the single-member majority voting system in a single round.
  • To be elected, a candidate must be twenty-five years old and have been a United States citizen for seven years.
  • One of the representatives is elected as Speaker of the House and must belong to the majority party in the House of Representatives.
  • He is the third most important figure in the state after the U.S. President and the Vice-President and second in the line of presidential succession.
the us constitution6
The US Constitution
  • As we have noted above, the number of representatives in the House of Representatives (the “Lower House”) depends upon the population of USA.
  • Each state has at least one representative and their members are elected every two years.
  • In contrast, The Senate is the body which represents the federal states and is the Upper House.
  • We note that the U.S. Constitution calls for the approval of both Houses to pass a law.
  • The House and Senate are equal partners in the legislative process (legislation cannot be enacted without the consent of

both chambers); however, the Constitution grants each House some unique powers.

the us constitution7
The US Constitution
  • The Senate is uniquely empowered to ratify treaties and to approve top presidential appointments.
  • Revenue-raising bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which also has the sole power of impeachment, while the Senate has the sole power to try impeachment cases.
  • The Senate : Senators are elected for a longer period; there are fewer of them than members of the lower house, a

distinction intended by the Constitution (six years with universal suffrage and direct majoritarian single-member

voting on each seat).

  • Once out of every two occasions, the elections are held on the same day as those for the U.S.
the us constitution8
The US Constitution
  • President and once out of every two occasions on the mid-term of the President. On the occasion of this vote, a single seat of senator is renewed (the only exception being the vacancy of a second seat).
  • The requirements to be eligible for election for Senate are that the candidate is at least thirty years

old, and has been resident nine years or more in the state.

  • Senators serve a six-year term and elections are

done on a rolling basis with 1/3 of the senators re-elected every two years.

The U.S. Vice President, under the Constitution is the President of the Senate, and a substitute President of the USA. In the local primary elections, the parties designate their candidates for election.

.

the us constitution9
The US Constitution
  • In the local primary elections, the parties designate their candidates for election.
  • They are closed in the sense that only party members can be candidates. There are rare cases when the primary elections are open in the sense that sympathizers of the party can stand without actually being members.
  • (An interesting parallel is the case of Italy in 2005, the necessity of voters to sign a declaration of agreement in principle with the plan of the potential winner.)
the us constitution10
The US Constitution
  • Whether elections are open (anyone can be a candidate) or closed (only party members can be candidates) or something in between (sympathisers can be candidates) is something that is decided at the State level.
  • To decide the candidates for election, local primaries are organized, some months before the senatorial election for the major American political parties and also for the smaller parties (the Libertarian Party and Green Party).
  • The rule of this method of election varies from party to party and from state to state: possibly single-round majority ballots or two rounds majority ballots (with the requirement of a 40% vote in the first round to proceed to the second).
the us constitution11
The US Constitution
  • A candidate defeated in the primary election may re-candidate himself under a different political label.
  • Senator Joe Lieberman, defeated in the Democratic senatorial primary in Connecticut, created a party ( "Connecticut for Lieberman") and accumulated enough signatures to present to his name, and then he went on to win the senatorial election in November 2006 against Republican and Democratic candidates.
  • The seventeenth amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that the vacant seat of a senator must be provided by the executive from the state that the seat covers.
  • Certain U.S. states then organize a special election for the vacant seat.
the us constitution12
The US Constitution
  • This election is held at a later date or at the same time as the bi-annual general election of Congress.
  • Both elections are combined and are the subject of a separate vote. . A senator elected in a special occasion election will be seated immediately and his term ends after six years but he is not eligible to a new term of six years.
  • The Constitution allows the Senate to expel one of its members with a vote by a two-thirds majority vote.
  • Fifteen senators have been expelled in the history of the Senate: W. Blount for treason and fourteen between 1861 and 1862 for supporting the Confederate secession. In contrast, “censure” requires only a simple majority but the senator keeps his seat.
the us constitution13
The US Constitution
  • The Executive
  • The Executive Body consists of The President and the Vice President.
  • The U.S. Constitution mentions that the President and Vice President have a position equal to that of Congress and are elected by a complex electoral system in two phases: the nomination of candidates of political parties and the second is the election of a candidate from each of the Democratic and Republican parties.
  • The President concentrates all the power of the state and is the head of the government and of the state.
  • election of a candidate from each of the Democratic and Republican parties. The President concentrates all
  • the power of the state and is the head of the government and of the state.
the us constitution14
The US Constitution
  • The U.S. Presidential election.
  • The American presidential electoral process is marked by two phenomena: (1) the President of the U.S. Is not elected by direct universal suffrage so that his legitimacy due to the elections will not be too important in comparison to that of the parliamentarians from the Federal Congress; (2) Small states in population terms are guaranteed to have a minimum of representation.
  • In the American Presidential elections there are Indirect Elections which are those that appoint the Electoral College which chooses the President and Vice-President of the USA.
  • Vice-President of the USA.
the us constitution15
The US Constitution
  • This process is governed by the rules inscribed in the Constitution. The appointment of electors and the choice of candidates is the subject of the established laws of each state

where traditions are partly formalized.

  • From the middle of the twentieth century, the process takes almost a year.
  • The electoral process that we describe here is that used in 2009 (which is very different than that established by the Constitution of 1789 and amended by the 12th amendment of 1800).
the us constitution16
The US Constitution
  • In order to be eligible to stand for President a candidate has to be at least thirty-five years old, be a U.S. citizen and have been resident in the USA for at least 14 years. Candidates can not stand for a third term.
  • The candidate has a duty to make the declaration of his candidacy in the state where he will receive the votes of the Grand Electors (the members of the Electoral College).
  • Electors (the members of the Electoral College).
  • Every election year, some half-dozen or so candidates put themselves forward as possible candidates for one of other of the two main parties, Republican or Democrat.
  • These candidates begin to campaign and encourage support. In a general manner, they declare themselves candidates in the year preceding the election and start a campaign over many months, culminating in the Primary Election (the results are known from March).
the us constitution17
The US Constitution
  • This phase ends with the National Convention of their party in the summer, and then there is the appointment by the party of its official candidate.
  • Convention of their party in the summer, and then there is the appointment by the party of its official candidate. Within the ruling party, the current President of that party, if the party does not receive a single candidate (which is extremely unlikely) becomes himself a candidate for election. Otherwise, the Vice-President is encouraged to represent his party. The Republican Richard Nixon in 1960 was beaten by

Kennedy; the Democrat Uberti Humphrey was beaten by Richard Nixon in 1968.

the us constitution18
The US Constitution
  • In an opposition party, the struggle is more open and strategy may change during the campaign: if one candidate becomes the favourite he can choose his co-runner from the other candidates.
  • Some candidates may then negotiate their candidacy with one of the candidates for the Vice-Presidency. The campaign for the investiture involves several public meetings, television appearances and advertising. They must find the funds to finance the electoral campaign.
  • The primary elections take place in January and serve as an indicator in the ranking of candidates.
the us constitution19
The US Constitution
  • Regarding the results, the candidates less fortunate should abandon the race and the party's candidate should become known before the convention which officially confirms the result.
  • The primary election may begin at the same time as the start of the election year, implying that candidates receive the same coverage. During the year preceding the primary elections, nominations are evaluated by an exploratory committee (afterwards the candidates look for financial support). The elections are organized by the two major parties for each state to designate the delegate of the party to make the National Convention.
the us constitution20
The US Constitution
  • The existence and form of these elections depend on the party and on the state.
  • Originally, the delegates elected were free of their votes outside the Convention; however in the second part of the twentieth century, the delegates are committed to a candidate, and, indeed, will determine the choice of candidate in the primary campaign.
  • During the elections, we see the gradual elimination of

candidates who have fewer delegates. This deletion is caused in large part by the declining financial support: the candidate can no longer afford to pay the costs of lobbying and advertising.

the us constitution21
The US Constitution
  • To prevent this effect, many states decided to organize their primaries the same day (Tuesday of February, "Super
  • Tuesday"). In most States, the primary elections are (1) open to all voters who support the party; (2) halfopen;

or (3) closed (only for members of the party). The open vote allows a candidate to describe himself as Democrat or Republican but not both.

  • We now turn to the National Convention. We note that the U.S. Is characterized as the country of bipartisanship.
the us constitution22
The US Constitution
  • The two parties meet during the summer to nominate their ticket for the presidential election. On this ticket is inscribed the names of candidates for President and Vice-Presidency.
  • The National Convention is an opportunity for candidates to present their program and signifies the opening of the campaign. The rule of "Winner-takes-all" (adopted by most states) is designed to give all electors of a State to the candidate who gets the simple majority and prevents the representation of minority votes.
  • The Electors (the members of the Electoral College) are elected by universal suffrage in each state. The fifty states designate a number of "electors" equal the total number of of representatives and senators, a total of 538 (100 corresponding to the 100 Senators plus 435 corresponding to the 435 Representatives plus 3 for the Federal District of Columbia).
the us constitution23
The US Constitution
  • The Electors (the members of the Electoral College) are elected by universal suffrage in each state.
  • The fifty states designate a number of "electors" equal to the total number of of representatives and senators, a total of 538 (100 corresponding to the 100 Senators plus 435 corresponding to the 435 Representatives plus 3 for the Federal District of Columbia).
the us constitution24
The US Constitution
  • Political parties nominate lists of "electoral votes" during the party political conventions. Candidates cannot be a member of Congress or a federal officer.
  • The popular vote are cast in favour of an Elector. In all states, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, the electoral system uses all the votes to find the candidate that comes first (winner take all) - this explains the disparity that exists between those popular votes (in which the Republican vote is close to the Democrat vote), and the results of electoral votes that often give an overwhelming majority to one candidate.
the us constitution25
The US Constitution
  • The criticism of this system is that the President is not necessarily the candidate with the largest number of popular votes (a candidate can be elected with just 30% of the popular vote).
  • The system also promotes the bipartisanship arrangement: for example a candidate of a third party may not receive any votes of the electors despite having 20% or more of the popular vote system uses all the votes to find the candidate that comes first (winner take all) - this explains the disparity

that exists between those popular votes (in which the Republican vote is close to the Democrat vote), and the results of electoral votes that often give an overwhelming majority to one candidate.

the us constitution26
The US Constitution
  • Technically, the federal authorities organize numerous ballots simultaneously in the presidential election: these many ballots are needed to record the results both electronically and electromechanically.
  • Between November and the vote of formal confirmation of electors and the date of 20th of January, when the new president takes up his duties there is a period of transition, giving time to the person leaving the old "Administration" and to transfer power to the new.
  • In the second half of the twentieth century, the process of nomination of candidates has changed for the benefit of the primaries.
the us constitution27
The US Constitution
  • The average accumulated number of delegates for each candidate and who is in the lead is generally known at the end of March.
  • The longevity of the U.S. Constitution is in a general way due to its flexibility. The Constitution focuses on the organization of power which is the problem of democracy today. Not having an aristocracy, the United States has managed to avoid the political crises of the nineteenth century that were observed in Europe. The Constitution has encouraged the introduction of the rights of citizens in the first Western country. The Constitution embodies the idea of Universal suffrage. It applies the logic of "common law", (the Constitution must be understood in light of the decisions of the courts and the Supreme Court of Justice). It gives to courts the ability to interpret the Constitution in light of current circumstances and this is proof of its flexibility. The adoption of the U.S. Constitution was one of the crucial moments in the birth of the American nation. Its character is sacred and this is due to the respect that the American people have for its Constitution.
the us constitution28
The US Constitution
  • The Constitution has encouraged the introduction of the rights of citizens in the first Western country.
  • The Constitution embodies the idea of Universal suffrage.
  • It applies the logic of "common law", (the Constitution must be understood in light of the decisions of the courts and the Supreme Court of Justice.
  • It gives to courts the ability to interpret the Constitution in light of current circumstances and this is proof of its flexibility. The adoption of the U.S. Constitution was one of the crucial moments in the birth of the American nation.
  • Its character is sacred and this is due to the respect that the American people have for its Constitution.