Compare and Contrast the Westminster Political System in Britain and Any English-Speaking Caribbean Territory

Topics: United Kingdom, Separation of powers, House of Lords Pages: 5 (1527 words) Published: November 6, 2011
A comparison of political systems is done to deepen our understanding of our own institutions, as well as to expand our awareness and views on other political alternatives. But what is a political system. David Easton (A System Analysis of Political Life, 1965) defined a political system as that "behavior or set of interactions through which authoritative allocations are made and implemented for society". Simply put it’s a set of institutions and agencies that implement goals of a society. The Westminster system derives its name from the Palace of Westminster, the home of the British House of Parliament. It is a adversarial two party system that utilizes a single member plurality system. The plurality system is easy to understand--voters simply place a mark next to their preferred candidate. The candidate receiving the highest number of votes wins. This allocation rule is referred to as "first past the post." The Westminster political model is evident in many Commonwealth countries to include Jamaica; however it is not necessarily exclusive to them. This presentation examines the Westminster political system in Britain and Jamaica focusing on the separation of powers which according to Professor Vile (Constitutionalism and the Separation of Powers, 1967) divides the institutions of government into three branches: legislative, executive and judicial: the legislature makes the laws; the executive put the laws into operation; and the judiciary interprets the laws. The similarities as well as the differences between Britain and Jamaica are highlighted and consideration is given to the future of the Westminster political model in both states.

The United Kingdom often called Britain consists of England, Scotland and Wales (which make up Great Britain) and Northern Ireland. Britain is a constitutional monarchy in which the monarch (the Queen) is the head of state but whose daily duties requires her to a larger extent to adopt a ceremonial role.

Unlike the constitutions of most other states, the UK constitution is not set out in any single document. Instead of a constitution, Britain has the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty (supremacy). A.V. Dicey in his Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution says ‘The principle of parliamentary sovereignty means nothing more nor less than this, namely, that Parliament … has, under the English constitution, the right to make or unmake any law whatever; and, further, that no person or body is recognized by the law as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament.’ In layman terms it is a system in which parliament is allowed to change any law and its legislation cannot be challenged in the UK courts. The constitution is made up of statute law, common law and conventions. Conventions are rules and practices which are not legally enforceable but which are regarded as indispensable to the working of government; many are derived from the historical events through which the UK's system of government has evolved. The constitution can be altered by Act of Parliament, or by general agreement to alter a convention. It is thus adaptable to changing political conditions.

The Legislature
The Parliament at Westminster is the legislature and the supreme authority. It is called a “bicameral parliament” because it comprises of two legislative bodies: some members who are elected by popular vote and others who are appointed. A parliament has a maximum duration of five years but general elections are often held before the end of this term. The three elements which make up parliament (the Queen, the House of Lords and the elected House of Commons) are constituted on different principles. House of Lords

Made up of about 720 Peers, who are generally chosen based on their expertise in a certain area. Those appointed by the monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister are called Life peers. “Hereditary Peers” is the name...
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