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Political Systems. USA, UK, Australia. Constitutions. A constitution is the system of rules about how a country is governed America ’ s constitution was written in 1787 Australia ’ s constitution was written in 1901. British Constitution. The constitution is not a single document:

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political systems

Political Systems

USA, UK, Australia

  • A constitution is the system of rules about how a country is governed
    • America’s constitution was written in 1787
    • Australia’s constitution was written in 1901
british constitution
British Constitution
  • The constitution is not a single document:
    • laws (passed by parliament)
    • Common Law
    • conventions (unwritten rules)
  • What is a constitution?
    • structure of government?
    • criminal laws?
    • a single document?
  • What form does China’s constitution have?
changing the constitution
Changing the Constitution
  • America: three quarters of states
  • Australia: public vote
  • Britain: no different to changing any other law
branches of government
Branches of Government
  • Legislative (“legislate” = make law)
    • two houses of parliament
  • Executive (“execute” = do something)
    • government departments, army
  • Judiciary (“judge” = make a court decision)
    • courts and judges
legislative all three countries
Legislative (all three countries)
  • Two houses: lower, upper
  • New laws need a majority vote in both houses
  • Laws may be first introduced in either house (but usually the lower house)
lower house
Lower House

(House of Commons, House of Representatives)

  • Regions (with approximately equal populations) each elect one member
  • Original reason: small American states were worried that the big states would have all the power
    • America: each state elects 2 members
    • Australia: each state elects 7 memberss
house of lords
House of Lords
    • nobles with inherited titles
    • nobles with non-inherited titles (appointed by the Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister)
  • No elections
  • Over 1000 Lords, but only about 250 attend regularly
  • In Britain and Australia, the party with the most seats in the lower house becomes the government:
    • Party leader becomes Prime Minister
    • Some members of parliament become ministers (control certain departments)
  • Queen has almost no real power (mainly symbolic)
  • In America, the Executive is separate from the Legislative
    • the people elect the president
    • the president appoints people to certain positions (heads of departments, etc)
  • Presidential election every 4 years
  • Does China have a legislative, executive, and judiciary?
  • Compare China’s system to America and Britain:
    • what is similar?
    • what is different?
checks and balances
Checks and Balances
  • Creators of the American Constitution worried that one person (such as the President) might become too powerful
    • They divided up the power
    • They provided ways for one part of the government to stop another part’s activities: “checks and balances”
checks and balances15
Checks and Balances
  • The legislative (Congress) makes laws, but…
    • the president must approve
    • the Supreme Court can decide the new law is unconstitutional
  • The president can sign treaties, but…
    • the Senate must approve
checks and balances16
Checks and Balances
  • Balance power between state and federal governments
  • Separate the branches (legislature, executive, judiciary)
  • Two houses of parliament
  • Britain: legislative is the most powerful
    • executive is chosen from members
checks and balances17
Checks and Balances
  • New laws need the president’s approval
  • But laws with a 2/3 majority in both houses of the legislative do not
  • The Supreme Court can decide that a law is unconstitutional
  • Treaties made by the president need the Senate’s approval
  • The legislative can impeach (sack) the president or a Supreme Court judge
two party system
Two Party System

(America, Britain, Australia)

  • Two major parties (plus smaller parties)
  • Therefore two choices for government/President/Prime Minister
  • Not imagined by the creators of the American Constitution