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Political Science 50 Midterm Review

Political Science 50 Midterm Review - Swanson 1 Political...

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Swanson 1 Political Science 50 Midterm Review Week One • Three approaches to political understanding: 1) institutional; 2) cultural; 3) class analytic Institutional approach: Key assumptions: the unstable nature of human society; the analogy to architecture; key propositions: 1) executive dominance; 2) value of a 2-party system; 3) minimize the power of special interests; strengths: it “unpacks the black box”; supports specific reforms; weaknesses; misses important dimensions; too descriptive and misleading • Britain achieves these through a variety of institutional features of the British system set up with the outcome if not the intended purpose of giving an enormous amount of authority to the executive branch: architecture (physical layout); vote of confidence; campaign finance; nominating system; no residential requirement; committee system • Britain’s political institution: 1) Constitutional monarchy 2) Executive branch (parliamentary model) prime minister and cabinet 3) Legislative branch House of Commons and House of Lords 4) The Party System • Britain chosen for this class because it is an excellent example of a stable Constitutional democracy (has the same set of political constitutions, a limited monarchy, a bicameral cabinet, an election system, and a single member district) • France, in contrast, has had a history of intensively unstable government with many different forms of government House of Commons: Britain’s lower house consisting of 646 members (lower than the high of 659 owing to strengthening of parliaments in Scotland and Wales) elected from single member districts; “first past the post” system •** THE BRITISH ELECTORAL SYSTEM IS “FIRST PAST THE POST,” meaning that in every district, the candidate with the most votes wins because they don’t need a majority; “first past the post” = “winner takes all” • Democratic functions of parliament: 1) Public education—media coverage 2) Recruiting ground for higher leaders 3) Barometer of public opinion 4) Preservation of a feudal culture 5) Parliament as opposition: the house of “lords” House of Lords: Britain’s upper house consisting of 751 members that are not elected, but instead appointed by the queen (all except about 90, which are hereditary lords); there are 26 “spiritual” lords and 725 “temporal” lords
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Swanson 2 House of Lords Act of 1999: Enacted 575 life peers, 92 hereditary peers (75 elected), and 25 bishops; new total is 691; shifted the party balance to include more Labour members Reform Bill of 2003: Constitutional Reform Act of 2005: Provides for a Supreme Court of United Kingdom to take over from Law Lords; approved March 2005 with Royal assent; office of Lord Chancellor replaced by Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, cabinet post; Lord Chancellor is no longer Speaker of House of Lords; new post of Lord Speaker; Lord Chief Justice replaces Lord Chancellor as Head of Judiciary; creates independent Judicial Appointments Commission to select judges British interest groups:
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