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Hurray For The Two-Party System

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  • Hurray For The Two-Party System

    Everyone loves to complain about their government and pick at the limitations and flaws in their constitution or charter of governance. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard lectures about how much better a multi-party parliamentary-style government on the Westminster model is than is our own two-party political system with a separate executive and legislature.

    Yes, it is true that we often have one party in control of the executive while the other controls part or all of the legislature, which cannot happen in a Westminster-style parliamentary government. By definition, the leadership of the majority in parliament constitutes the executive. A Westminster-style parliament also allows for a more nuanced division of political loyalties, I have been told. Divisions within parties, such as the “Blue Dog” Democrats and the Progressive Caucus of the Democratic Party, apparently donít count.

    But there is a problem with Westminster-style parliaments. What happens when no single party gets a majority? Well that’s easy. The party with the most seats forms a coalition government. But what if no one party has even a clear plurality? What if the number of seats separating the “winner” from number two is only a handful? What if there is no clear and easy coalition to form which can govern? There is a term for this outcome: Hung Parliament.

    We have a Hung Parliament in Iraq right now. Even as we are withdrawing the last of our combat troops, the Iraqis are unable to form a coalition capable of governing, and so the ...


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