Comparative European Politics

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Comparative European Politics
Vahur Made

Course content
• Comparison of the political systems of: - United Kingdom, - France, - Italy, - Spain, - The Netherlands, - Nordic countries.

Course content
• Comparison of: - Constitutional frameworks, - Historical backgrounds, - Executives, - Parliaments, - Party systems.

Readings
• Timo Behr. Germany After the Elections: A Liberal Dawn? FIIA Briefing Paper 44, 2009. • Toby Archer. No Real Winner? Britain’s Closest Election in a Generation and the Implications for Europe. FIIA Briefing Paper 60, 2010.

Exam
• • • • • • Multiple-choice test, 20 questions, Every question has four choice-answers, ONE correct answer for every question, Time ca 20-30 min Friday, November 1, 2010. 5 - 5.30 pm.

United Kingdom

Britain
• Constitutional acts
- Royal privileges 1215 Magna Carta - Parliament bills 1679 Habeas Corpus Act 1689 Bill of Rights 1911 Parliament Act - Court decisions

Britain
• • Important milestones of British Parliament 1215 Magna Carta by King John. Royal power is first time restricted through the establishment of a council of 25 barons entiteled to levy taxes and wage war against king if king violates their liberties. Furthermore known as Curia Regis. 1281 First joint meeting of Magnum Concilium and Curia Regis of King Edward I under the name concilium regis in parliamento (kings council in parliament). 14th century. Parliament is being divided into two houses. House of Lords (‘lords of spiritual and temporal,) and House of Commons (knights and burgesses). Parliament bills - first sign of Parliament’s opposition to King. First signs of the ‘opposition’. 17th century. British revolutions (Civil War and the Glorious Revolution). Parliament emerges as the main anti-monarchist institution. Development of Whig (anti-monarchist, liberal) and Tory (monarchist, conservative) factions. 1830 Clear party system emerges in Parliament. 1911 Parliament Act establishes modern British Parliament.

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Britain
• Royal personal prerogatives: - dissolution of Parliament (House of Commons), - appointment of Prime Minister (First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Privy Councellor).

Britain
• Important milestones of the institution of British Prime Minister • 1721 Sir Robert Walpole is appointed by King George II as First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Origin of Prime Minister and Cabinet. • 1783 William Pitt the Younger establishes premiership in its present form. Starts to use title ‘prime minister’. Cabinet is disassociated from Monarch. PM receives the right to (ask Monarch to) dissolve Parliament. • During the 19th century PMs Benjamin Disraeli and William E. Gladstone finally marginalize the role of Monarch, establish premiership as a powerful executive which is dominating over the Parliament.

Britain
• Party system Big parties
Conservatives (Tory) Labour Party (since 1900)

Britain
• Small parties Liberal Democrats Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties (Scottish NP, Plaid Cymru) Party System of the Northern Ireland (Ulster Unionists, Sinn Fein) Other minor parties

Britain
• General elections (House of Commons) - first-past-the-post system (majoritarian) Positive features: - ‘winner takes it all’, single-party governments, no coalitions - goverment usually has large parliamentary majorities (150-200 seats more than opposition) - clear link to MP’s constituency

Britain
• British parliament House of Commons - 659 seats - 5 years - HM Government and HM Opposition - Front- and back-benchers - Whips

Britain
• House of Lords - 1,207 members - hereditary peers (765) – abolished by Tony Blair in 2006, life peers (391), bishops (26), Law Lords (19) - 7 per cent of women - ‘working house’ - crossbenchers - 1911 Parliament Act - Salisbury/Addison doctrine

Britain
• Prime minister - leader of the party winning the genral elections, - head of Cabinet (20-22 members), and...
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