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Encyclopedia > Westminster system
The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, in London.
The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, in London.

The Westminster system is a democratic, parliamentary system of government modelled after that of the United Kingdom system, as used in the Palace of Westminster, the location of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The system is a series of procedures for operating a legislature. It is used, or was once used, in the national legislatures and/or sub-national legislatures of most Commonwealth and ex-Commonwealth nations, beginning with the Canadian provinces and Australian Colonies in the mid-19th century when they were colonies. There are other parliamentary systems whose procedures differ considerably from the Westminster system. ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (1800x1351, 713 KB) The Houses of Parliament, seen across Westminster Bridge. ... ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (1800x1351, 713 KB) The Houses of Parliament, seen across Westminster Bridge. ... “Houses of Parliament” redirects here. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... For other uses, see Democracy (disambiguation) and Democratic Party. ... The House of Representatives Chamber of the Parliament of Australia in Canberra. ... “Houses of Parliament” redirects here. ... Type Bicameral Houses House of Commons House of Lords Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin MP Speaker of the House of Lords Hélène Hayman, PC Members 1377 (646 Commons, 731 Peers) Political groups Labour Party Conservative Party Liberal Democrats Scottish National Party Plaid Cymru Democratic Unionist... A legislatureis a type of representative deliberative assembly with the power to ratify laws. ... Subnational entities redirects here. ... The Commonwealth of Nations as of 2007 Headquarters Marlborough House, London, UK Official languages English Membership 53 sovereign states Leaders  -  Queen Elizabeth II  -  Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma Appointed 24 November 2007 Establishment  -  Balfour Declaration 18 November 1926   -  Statute of Westminster 11 December 1931   -  London Declaration 28 April 1949  Area  -  Total... Regions Political culture Foreign relations Other countriesAtlas  Politics Portal      Canada is a federation which consists of ten provinces that, with three territories, make up the worlds second largest country in total area. ... The written history of Australia began when Dutch explorers first sighted the country in the 17th century. ... States currently utilizing parliamentary systems are denoted in red and orange—the former being constitutional monarchies where authority is vested in a parliament, the latter being parliamentary republics whose parliaments are effectively supreme over a separate head of state. ...

Contents

Key characteristics

Important features of the Westminster system include the following, although not all of the following aspects have been preserved in every Westminster-derived system:[1]

  • a head of state who is the nominal or theoretical holder of executive power, and holds numerous reserve powers, but whose daily duties subsist mainly in performing the role of a ceremonial figurehead. Examples include the British monarch, the presidents of many countries and state/provincial governors in federal systems.
  • a head of government (or head of the executive), known as the prime minister (PM), premier or first minister, who is officially appointed by the head of state. In practice, the head of government is almost always the leader of the largest elected party in parliament.
  • a de facto executive branch usually made up of members of the legislature with the senior members of the executive in a cabinet led by the head of government; such members execute executive authority on behalf of the nominal or theoretical executive authority.
  • parliamentary opposition (a multiparty system);
  • an elected legislature, often bicameral, in which at least one house is elected, although unicameral systems also exist;
  • a lower house of parliament with an ability to dismiss a government by "withholding (or blocking) Supply" (rejecting a budget), passing a motion of no confidence, or defeating a confidence motion. The Westminster system enables a government to be defeated, or forced into a general election, independently of a new government being chosen.
  • a parliament which can be dissolved and elections called at any time.
  • parliamentary privilege, which allows the Legislature to discuss any issue deemed by itself to be relevant, without fear of consequences stemming from defamatory statements or records thereof.
  • minutes of meetings, often known as Hansard, including an ability for the legislature to strike discussion from these minutes.

Most of the procedures of the Westminster system have originated with the conventions, practices and precedents of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which are a part of what is known as the Constitution of the United Kingdom. Unlike the unwritten British constitution, most countries that use the Westminster system have codified the system in a written constitution. For the comedy film of the same name, see Head of State (film). ... In a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government, a reserve power is a power that may be exercised by the head of state without the approval of another branch of the government. ... In politics, a figurehead, by metaphor with the carved figurehead at the prow of a sailing ship, is a person who holds an important title or office yet executes little actual power. ... This article is about the monarchy of the United Kingdom, one of sixteen that share a common monarch; for information about this constitutional relationship, see Commonwealth realm; for information on the reigning monarch, see Elizabeth II. For information about other Commonwealth realm monarchies, as well as other relevant articles, see... For other uses, see President (disambiguation). ... Most countries with a federal constitution are made up of a number of subnational entities called states or provinces. ... For other uses, see Governor (disambiguation). ... For theological federalism, see Covenant Theology. ... The head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. ... A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. ... A premier is an executive official of government. ... The term First Minister refers to the leader of a cabinet United Kingdom In the United Kingdom, the term First Minister was once used interchangeably with Prime Minister, as in Winston Churchills famous line: I did not become Her Majestys First Minister so that I might oversee the... De facto is a Latin expression that means in fact or in practice. It is commonly used as opposed to de jure (meaning by law) when referring to matters of law or governance or technique (such as standards), that are found in the common experience as created or developed without... The executive is the branch of a government charged with implementing, or executing, the law and running the day-to-day affairs of the government or state. ... This article is about the governmental body. ... Parliamentary opposition is a form of political opposition to a designated government, particularly in a Westminster-based parliamentary system. ... A multi-party system is a type of party system. ... This article is about bicameralism in government. ... For unicameral alphabets, see the article letter case. For The unicameral, see Nebraska Legislature. ... A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house. ... A motion of no confidence, also called a motion of non-confidence, a censure motion, a no-confidence motion, or simply a confidence motion, is a parliamentary motion traditionally put before a parliament by the opposition in the hope of defeating or embarrassing a government. ... A Motion of Confidence is a motion of support proposed by a government in a parliament or other assembly of elected representatives to give members of parliament (or other such assembly) a chance to register their confidence in a government. ... A general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are up for election. ... In parliamentary systems, a dissolution of parliament is the dispersal of a legislature at the call of an election. ... Parliamentary privilege, also known as absolute privilege, is a legal mechanism employed within the legislative bodies of countries whose constitutions are based on the Westminster system. ... Hansard is the traditional name for the printed transcripts of parliamentary debates in the Westminster system of government. ... Hansard is the traditional name for the printed transcripts of parliamentary debates in the Westminster system of government. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... This article is about the legal term. ... Type Bicameral Houses House of Commons House of Lords Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin MP Speaker of the House of Lords Hélène Hayman, PC Members 1377 (646 Commons, 731 Peers) Political groups Labour Party Conservative Party Liberal Democrats Scottish National Party Plaid Cymru Democratic Unionist... The Constitution of the United Kingdom is the uncodified body of law and convention under which the United Kingdom is governed. ... For the entry on the naval ship U.S.S. Constitution, see: USS Constitution. ... In law, codification is the process of collecting and restating the law of a jurisdiction in certain areas, usually by subject, forming the legal code. ...


However, uncodified conventions, practices and precedents continue to play a significant role in most countries, as many constitutions do not specify important elements of procedure: for example, some older constitutions using the Westminster system do not mention the existence of the cabinet and/or the prime minister, because these offices were taken for granted by the authors of these constitutions.


Operation

The pattern of executive functions within a Westminster System is quite complex. In essence, the head of state, usually a monarch or president, is a ceremonial figurehead who is the theoretical, nominal or de jure source of executive power within the system. In practice, such a figure does not actively exercise executive powers, even though executive authority may be exercised in his/her name. For the comedy film of the same name, see Head of State (film). ... Louis XIV, king of France and Navarre (Painting by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701). ... For other uses, see President (disambiguation). ... Look up De jure in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


The head of government, usually called the prime minister or premier, will ideally have the support of a majority in the responsible house, and must in any case be able to ensure the existence of no absolute majority against the government. If the parliament passes a resolution of no confidence, or refuses to pass an important bill such as the budget, then the government must either resign so that a different government can be appointed or seek a parliamentary dissolution so that new general elections may be held in order to re-confirm or deny the government's mandate. The head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. ... A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. ... A premier is an executive official of government. ... Absolute majority is a supermajoritarian voting requirement which is stricter than a simple majority. ... A Motion of No Confidence, also called Motion of Non Confidence is a parliamentary motion traditionally put before a parliament by the opposition in the hope of defeating or embarrassing a government. ... A bill is a proposed new law introduced within a legislature that has not been ratified, adopted, or received assent. ... For the rental car company, see Budget Rent a Car. ... In parliamentary systems, a dissolution of parliament is the dispersal of a legislature at the call of an election. ...


Executive authority within a Westminster System is essentially exercised by the Cabinet, along with more junior ministers, although the head of government usually has the dominant role within the ministry. In the United Kingdom, the sovereign theoretically holds executive authority, even though the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Cabinet effectively implement executive powers. In a parliamentary republic like India, the President is the de jure executive, even though executive powers are essentially instituted by the Prime Minister of India and the Council of Ministers. A minister or a secretary is a politician who holds significant public office in a national or regional government. ... The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is, in practice, the political leader of the United Kingdom. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Parliamentary republics around the world, shown in Orange (Parliamentary republics with a non-executive President) and Green (Parliamentary republics with an executive President linked to Parliament). ... The President of India (Hindi: Rashtrapati) is the head of state and first citizen of India and the Supreme Commander of the Indian armed forces. ... The Prime Minister of India is, in practice, the most powerful person in the Government of India. ... List of Indian ministers in the current government elected in 2004: Names in italics are women ministers. ...


As an exemplar, the Prime Minister and Cabinet (as the de facto executive body in the system) generally must seek the permission of the head of state when carrying out executive functions. If, for instance the British Prime Minister wished to dissolve parliament in order for a general election to take place, the Prime Minister is constitutionally bound to request permission from the sovereign in order to attain such a wish. This power (along with others such as appointing ministers in the government, appointing diplomats, declaring war, and signing treaties, for example) are known as the Royal Prerogative, which in modern times are exerised by the sovereign solely on the advice of the Prime Minister. Since the British sovereign is a constitutional monarch, he or she abides by the advice of his or her ministers, except when executing reserve powers in times of crisis. De facto is a Latin expression that means in fact or in practice. It is commonly used as opposed to de jure (meaning by law) when referring to matters of law or governance or technique (such as standards), that are found in the common experience as created or developed without... In the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister is the head of government, exercising many of the executive functions nominally vested in the Sovereign, who is head of state. ... In parliamentary systems, a dissolution of parliament is the dispersal of a legislature at the call of an election. ... A general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are up for election. ... This article is about the monarchy of the United Kingdom, one of sixteen that share a common monarch; for information about this constitutional relationship, see Commonwealth realm; for information on the reigning monarch, see Elizabeth II. For information about other Commonwealth realm monarchies, as well as other relevant articles, see... A minister or a secretary is a politician who holds significant public office in a national or regional government. ... This page is about negotiations; for the board game, see Diplomacy (game). ... For other uses, see War (disambiguation). ... A treaty is a binding agreement under international law concluded by subjects of international law, namely states and international organizations. ... The Royal Prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity, recognised in common law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy as belonging to the Crown alone. ... A constitutional monarchy is a form of government established under a constitutional system which acknowledges a hereditary or elected monarch as head of state. ... In a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government, a reserve power is a power that may be exercised by the head of state without the approval of another branch of the government. ...


This custom also occurs in other Westminster Systems in the world, in consequence from the influence of British colonial rule. In Commonwealth Realms such as Canada, New Zealand or Australia, the Prime Minister is obligated to seek permission from the Governor-General when implementing executive decisions, in a manner similar to the British practice. An analogous scenario also exists in Commonwealth Republics, such as India or Trinidad and Tobago. This page meets Wikipedias criteria for speedy deletion. ... The Commonwealth Realms, shown in pink A Commonwealth Realm is any one of the sixteen sovereign states within the Commonwealth of Nations that recognise Elizabeth II as their respective monarch. ... Governor-General (or Governor General) is a term used both historically and currently to designate the appointed representative of a head of state or their government for a particular territory, historically in a colonial context, but no longer necessarily in that form. ... The Commonwealth republics, shown in pink A Commonwealth republic is any one of the 31 sovereign states of the Commonwealth of Nations that have a republican form of government. ...


The head of state will often hold meetings with the head of government and cabinet, as a means of keeping abreast of governmental policy and as a means of advising, consulting and warning ministers in their actions. Such a practice takes place in the United Kingdom and India. In the UK, the sovereign holds confidential weekly meetings with the Prime Minister to discuss governmental policy and to offer her opinions and advice on issues of the day. In India, the Prime Minister is constitutionally bound to hold regular sessions with the President, in a similar manner to the aforementioned British practice. In essence, the head of state, as the theoretical executive authority, "reigns but does not rule". This phrase means that the head of state's role in government is generally ceremonial and as a result does not directly institute executive powers. The reserve powers of the head of state are sufficient to ensure compliance with some of their wishes. However, the extent of such powers varies from one country to another and is often a matter of controversy. A reserve power is a power that may be exercised by the head of state of a country in certain exceptional circumstances. ...


Such an executive arrangement first emerged in the United Kingdom. Historically, the British sovereign held and directly exercised all executive authority. George I of Great Britain was the first British monarch to delegate some executive powers to a Prime Minister and a cabinet of the ministers, largely because he was also the monarch of Hanover in Germany and did not speak fluent English. Over time, arrangement continued to exercise executive authority on the sovereign's behalf. Such a concept was reinforced in The English Constitution (1876) by Walter Bagehot, who emphasised the "dignified" and "efficient" aspects of government. In this sense Bagehot was stating that the sovereign should be a focal point for the nation, while the PM and cabinet actually undertook executive decisions. The British monarch or Sovereign is the monarch and head of state of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories, and is the source of all executive, judicial and (as the Queen_in_Parliament) legislative power. ... George I (George Louis; 28 May 1660 – 11 June 1727)[1] was King of Great Britain and Ireland, from 1 August 1714 until his death. ... , Hanover(i) (German: , IPA: ), on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), Germany. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... The English Constitution is a book by Walter Bagehot. ... Walter Bagehot (3 February 1826 – 24 March 1877), IPA (see [[1]]), was a nineteenth century British economist. ... For other uses, see Nation (disambiguation). ...


Role of the head of state

The head of state or his/her representative (such as a governor general), formally invites the head of government to form a government (that is, an administration). In the UK, this is known as kissing hands. There are notable exceptions to the above in the Republic of Ireland, where the President of Ireland has a mandate through direct election, and the Taoiseach (prime minister) prior to appointment by the President of Ireland is nominated by the democratically elected lower house, Dáil Éireann. For the comedy film of the same name, see Head of State (film). ... Governor-General (or Governor General) is a term used both historically and currently to designate the appointed representative of a head of state or their government for a particular territory, historically in a colonial context, but no longer necessarily in that form. ... The head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. ... The term Administration, as used in the context of government, differs according to jurisdiction. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The President of Ireland (Irish: ) is the head of state of Ireland. ... In politics, a mandate is the authority granted by an electorate to act as its representative. ... Direct election is a term describing a system of choosing political officeholders in which the voters directly cast ballots for the person, persons or political party that they desire to see elected. ... The Taoiseach (IPA: , phonetic: TEE-shock — plural: Taoisigh ( or ), also referred to as An Taoiseach [1], is the head of government or prime minister of the Republic of Ireland . ... This article is about the current Irish body. ...


Because of the mandate and the potentially significant constitutional powers of the Irish president, some authorities believe the Irish constitution is as similar to semi-presidential systems as it is to Westminster. Similarly, under the constitutions of some Commonwealth countries, a president or Governor-General may possess clearly significant reserve powers. One example is the Australian constitutional crisis of 1975, in which the Governor-General dismissed the Prime Minister, who held a majority in the Australian House of Representatives. Because of differences in their written constitutions, the formal powers of presidents and Governors-General vary greatly from one country to another. However, as Governors-Generals are not directly elected, they lack the popular mandate held, for example, by an Irish president. Because of this, Governors-General rarely risk the public disapproval which would result from them making unilateral and/or controversial uses of their powers. States with semi-presidential systems are shown in yellow The semi-presidential system is a system of government in which a prime minister and a president are both active participants in the day-to-day functioning of the administration of a country. ... In a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government, a reserve power is a power that may be exercised by the head of state without the approval of another branch of the government. ... The secretary of the Governor-General, David Smith, announcing the dissolution of Parliament on November 11th, 1975. ... Type Lower house Speaker of the House David Hawker, Liberal since November 16, 2004 Members 150 Political groups ALP (85) Liberal Party (53) National Party (10) Last elections 24 November 2007 Meeting place Parliament House, Canberra, ACT Web site House of Representatives Entrance to the House of Representatives Judicial High...


Although the dissolution of the legislature and the call for new elections is formally done by the head of state, by convention the head of state acts according to the wishes of the head of government.


In exceptional circumstances the head of state may either refuse a dissolution request, as in the Canadian King-Byng Affair, or dismiss the government, as in the Australian crisis of 1975. Either action is likely to bend or break existing conventions. The Lascelles Principles were an attempt to create a convention to cover similar situations, but have not been tested in practice. Mackenzie King requested a dissolution of Parliament. ... Dismissal may refer to: In litigation, a dismissal the result of a successful motion to dismiss. ... The Lascelles Principles are a constitutional convention in the United Kingdom describing the circumstances under which a monarch may refuse a request from a Prime Minister for the dissolution of Parliament. ...


Cabinet government

In The English Constitution, Bagehot emphasised the divide of the constitution into two components: the Dignified (that part which is symbolic) and the Efficient (the way things actually work and get done) and called the Efficient "Cabinet Government".[2] Although there have been many works since emphasising different aspects of the "Efficient", no one has seriously questioned Bagehot's premise that the divide exists in the Westminster system. Cabinet government refers to any government in which most executive power is invested in a cabinet - often the members act with collective responsibility. ...


Members of the Cabinet are collectively seen as responsible for government policy. All Cabinet decisions are made by consensus, a vote is never taken in a Cabinet meeting. All ministers, whether senior and in the Cabinet, or junior ministers, must support the policy of the government publicly regardless of any private reservations. When a Cabinet reshuffle is imminent, a lot of time is taken up in the conversations of politicians and in the news media, speculating on who will, or will not, be moved in and out of the Cabinet by the Prime Minister, because the appointment of ministers to the Cabinet and threat of dismissal from the Cabinet, is the single most powerful constitutional power which a Prime Minister has in the political control of the Government in the Westminster system. In the parliamentary system a cabinet shuffle is an informal term for an event that occurs when a Head of State or Head of Government rotates or changes the composition of ministers in his or her United States it would very unusual for a president to reassign all the cabinet...


Linked to Cabinet government is the idea, at least in theory, that ministers are responsible for the actions of their departments. It is no longer considered to be an issue of resignation if the actions of members of their department, over whom the minister has no direct control, make mistakes or formulate procedures which are not in accordance with agreed policy decisions. One of the major powers of the Prime Minister under the Westminster system is to decide when a fellow minister is accountable for the actions of a department.


The Official Opposition and other major political parties not in the Government, will mirror the governmental organisation with their own Shadow Cabinet made up of Shadow Ministers. The Parliamentary Opposition is a form of political opposition to a designated government, particularly in a Westminster-based parliamentary system. ... The Shadow Cabinet (also called the Shadow Front Bench) is a senior group of opposition spokespeople in the Westminster system of government who together under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition (or the leader of other smaller opposition parties) form an alternative cabinet to the governments, whose... A Shadow Minister is a member of the opposition party, not in power, who provides a counterpoint to the Minister of the government. ...


Bicameral and unicameral parliaments

In a Westminster system, some members of parliament are elected by popular vote, while others are appointed. All Westminster-based parliaments have a lower house with powers based on those of the House of Commons (under various names), comprising local, elected representatives of the people. Most also have a smaller upper house, which is made up of members chosen by various methods: A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house. ... Type Lower House Speaker Michael Martin, (Non-affiliated) since October 23, 2000 Leader Harriet Harman, (Labour) since June 28, 2007 Shadow Leader Theresa May, (Conservative) since May 5, 2005 Members 659 Political groups Labour Party Conservative Party Liberal Democrats Scottish National Party Plaid Cymru Democratic Unionist Party Sinn Féin...

  • De facto appointees of the cabinet or premier (such as the Canadian Senate and some members of the British House of Lords)
  • Direct election (such as the Australian Senate)
  • Election by sub-national governments (such as the Indian Rajya Sabha)
  • Membership determined only by heredity (some members of the House of Lords)

In Britain, the lower house is the de facto legislative body, while the upper house practices restraint in exercising its constitutional powers and serves as a consultative body. In other Westminster countries, however, the upper house can sometimes exercise considerable power. The Senate of Canada (French: Le Sénat du Canada) is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the Sovereign (represented by the Governor General) and the House of Commons. ... This article is about the British House of Lords. ... Type Upper house President Alan Ferguson, Liberal since 14 August 2007 Members 76 Political groups Coalition (39) ALP (28) Green (4) Democrat (4) FFP (1) Last elections 9 October 2004 Meeting place Parliament House, Canberra, ACT Web site Senate Entrance to the Senate Judicial High Court Lower Courts Constitution State... Executive President Vice-President Prime Minister Dy. ...


Some Westminster-derived parliaments are unicameral for two reasons: Unicameralism is the practice of having only one legislative or parliamentary chamber. ...

Australia is exceptional because a prime minister must have an upper house (Senate of Australia) which is willing to pass budgets. Although government is formed in the lower house (Australian House of Representatives), the support of the Senate is necessary in order to govern. To cite the prime example of its powers, the Senate maintains an ability similar to that held by the U.S. Senate (or the British House of Lords prior to 1911), to "block supply" (access to government revenue), to the government of the day. A government which is unable to obtain supply can be dismissed by the governor-general - however this is generally used as a last resort and is a highly controversial decision to take, given that the government has a mandate from the electorate to govern. Many political scientists have held that the Australian system of government was consciously devised as a blend or hybrid of the Westminster and the United States systems of government, especially since the Australian Senate is a powerful upper house like the U.S. Senate; this notion is expressed in the nickname "Washminster system". The ability of upper houses to block supply also features in the parliaments of most Australian states. The Parliament of New Zealand consists of the Queen of New Zealand and the New Zealand House of Representatives and, until 1951, the New Zealand Legislative Council. ... The Parliament of Malta, the House of Representatives (Il-Kamra tar-Raprezentanti), has 65 members, elected for a five year term in 13 5-seat constituencies with a possibility of rewarding bonus members for the popular largest party which doesnt succeed in getting absolute majority in parliament. ... The National Parliament of Papua New Guinea is the unicameral national legislature in Papua New Guinea. ... Australian Senate chamber The Australian Senate is the upper of the two houses of the Parliament of Australia. ... Type Lower house Speaker of the House David Hawker, Liberal since November 16, 2004 Members 150 Political groups ALP (85) Liberal Party (53) National Party (10) Last elections 24 November 2007 Meeting place Parliament House, Canberra, ACT Web site House of Representatives Entrance to the House of Representatives Judicial High... The United States Senate is the upper house of the U.S. Congress, smaller than the United States House of Representatives. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Governor-General (or Governor General) is a term used both historically and currently to designate the appointed representative of a head of state or their government for a particular territory, historically in a colonial context, but no longer necessarily in that form. ... Judicial High Court Lower Courts Constitution State and territory governments Executive Governors and Administrators Premiers and Chief Ministers Legislative Parliaments and Assemblies State electoral systems ACT - NSW - NT - Qld. ... This article is about the federal government of the United States. ... The Parliaments of the Australian states and territories are legislative bodies within the federal framework of the Commonwealth of Australia. ...


Criticisms

The Westminster system is often criticised for breeding a variety of political cultures which undermine its effectiveness as a truly democratic and accountable system. Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... Image File history File links Emblem-important. ... Political culture can be defined as [1] // Kavanagh defines political culture as A shorthand expression to denote the set of values within which the political system operates. Pye describes it as the sum of the fundamental values, sentiments and knowledge that give form and substance to political process. It is...


The office of a Westminster prime minister is often criticised for being too powerful. As mentioned above, as he or she effectively determines when "consensus" is reached in cabinet, cabinet members do not have much independence to actively disagree with government policy, even for productive reasons. A cabinet member may be forced to resign simply for opposing one aspect of a government's agenda, even though he agrees with the majority of other proposals. Westminster cabinets also have a tendency to be very large, mostly for partisan reasons. As cabinet is the chief organ of power and influence in the government, members of parliament may resent being mere "back benchers" and thus actively lobby for a position in cabinet once their party is elected to power. The Prime Minister, who is also party leader, will have an active interest in promoting as many members of the party to cabinet as possible, which critics argue undermines the idea of a cabinet driven by meritocracy. ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Meritocracy is a system of a government or another organization wherein appointments are made *who* makes the appointments - ultimately, it is the people (all members of the group). ...


Westminster governments usually do not have a very strong tradition of separation of powers, in practice. Though the head of state, be it governor-general, monarch, or president, will have nominal powers to "check" those of the prime minister, in practice these individuals are usually regarded as little more than figureheads who are not expected to actively intervene in day-to-day politics, often because they lack a popular democratic mandate to do so (governors-general are usually appointed upon the advice of the prime minister, while most Westminster presidents are chosen by parliament). Without an active check on the executive power of the prime minister, it is argued, the PM can in effect rule largely unquestioned. In particular, the ability of a Westminster prime minister to freely appoint a large variety of individuals, such as judges, cabinet ministers, and other senior bureaucrats, has long been a matter of political contention in nations such as India, Canada, and Australia. The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Separation of powers is a term coined by French political Enlightenment thinker Baron de Montesquieu[1][2], is a model for the governance of democratic states. ... Forecastle with figurehead Grand Turk Figurehead is a carved wooden decoration, often female or bestiary, found at the prow of ships of the 16th to the 19th century. ... Under the doctrine of the separation of powers, the executive is the branch of a government charged with implementing, or executing, the law. ...


The threat posed by non-confidence votes is often used to justify extremely well-disciplined legislative parties in Westminster systems. In order to ensure the government always has the confidence of the majority of the house, the political culture of Westminster nations often makes it highly unusual for a legislator to vote against their party. Critics argue this in turn undermines the freedom and importance of Members of Parliament (MPs) in day-to-day legislating, making cabinet the only organ of government where individual legislators can aspire to influence the decisions of the government. This in turn breeds an obsession with "getting in" cabinet, as mentioned above. Likewise, strong party discipline obviously ensures that no-confidence votes are very rare, though this also eliminates the usefulness of such votes as an active way of holding an incumbent government accountable. A Member of Parliament, or MP, is a representative elected by the voters to a parliament. ... Party discipline is the ability of a political party to get its members to support the policies of the party leadership. ...


Lastly, legislative committees in Westminster systems tend to be weak, as most senior policy will be made at the cabinet level, regardless of what individual MPs may or may not decide in committee. Their greatest power is often the ability to force a government to reveal certain pieces of information.


Ceremonies

The Westminster system has a very distinct appearance when functioning, with many British customs incorporated into day-to-day government function. A Westminster-style parliament is usually a long, rectangular room, with two rows of seats and desks on either side. The chairs are positioned so that the two rows are facing each other. The intended purpose of this arrangement is to create a visual representation of the adversarial nature of parliamentary government. Traditionally, the opposition parties will sit in one row of seats, and the government party will sit in the other. Of course, sometimes a majority government is so large that it must use the "opposition" seats as well. In the lower house at Westminster (the House of Commons) there are lines on the floor in front of the government and opposition benches that members may cross only when exiting the chamber. It is often rumoured that the distance between the lines is that of the length of two swords although no documentary evidence exists to support this and in fact, weapons have never been allowed in the Palace of Westminster at any time. In the Westminster System, a majority government is one in which the government enjoys an absolute majority of seats in the legislature or Parliament. ...


At one end of the room sits a large chair, for the Speaker of the House. The speaker usually wears a black robe, and in many countries, a wig. Robed parliamentary clerks often sit at narrow tables between the two rows of seats, as well. The term Speaker is usually the title given to the presiding officer of a countrys lower house of parliament or congress (ie: the House of Commons or House of Representatives). ... A wig or toupee is a head of hair - human, horse-hair or synthetic - worn on the head for fashion or various other aesthetic and stylistic reasons, including cultural and religious observance. ... For other uses, see Clerk (disambiguation). ...


Other ceremonies sometimes associated with the Westminster system include an annual Speech from the Throne (or equivalent) in which the Head of State gives a special address (written by the government) to parliament about what kind of policies to expect in the coming year, and lengthy State Opening of Parliament ceremonies that often involve the presentation of a large ceremonial mace. Queen Elizabeth II reads Canadas Speech from the Throne in 1977 The Speech from the Throne (or Throne Speech) is an event in certain monarchies in which the monarch (or a representative) reads a prepared speech to a complete session of parliament, outlining the governments agenda for the... In the United Kingdom, the State Opening of Parliament is an annual event held usually in October or November that marks the commencement of a session of Parliament. ... This article needs cleanup. ...


Current Countries and Territories

The Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur - the Malaysian Parliament is modelled after the Westminster system.
The Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur - the Malaysian Parliament is modelled after the Westminster system.
  • Nauru also adopted a Westminster based system but it is characterized by significant differences.

Image File history File links MalaysianParliament. ... Image File history File links MalaysianParliament. ...

Former Countries

  • The Union of South Africa between 1910 and 1961, and the Republic of South Africa between 1961 and 1984. The 1983 constitution abolished the Westminster system in South Africa.
  • Rhodesia between 1965 and 1979, and Zimbabwe between 1980 and 1987. The 1987 constitution abolished the Westminster system.
  • Nigeria following the end of British colonial rule in 1960, which resulted in the appointment of a Governor-General and then a President, Nnamdi Azikiwe. The system ended after Nigeria became a republic in 1963.
  • Pakistan following independence in 1947 until 1958 when its old constitution was suspended and new system was adopted.
  • Ceylon between 1948 and 1972, and Sri Lanka from 1972 until 1978 when the constitution was remodelled into a presidential system.
  • Burma following independence in 1948 until the 1962 military coup d'état.
  • Fiji between 1970 and 1987.
  • Guyana between 1966 and 1970. Presidential system established in 1980.
  • The Dominion of Kenya between 1963 and 1964.

Motto Ex Unitate Vires (Latin: From Unity, strength} Anthem Die Stem van Suid-Afrika Capital Cape Town (legislative) Pretoria (administrative) Bloemfontein (judicial) Language(s) Afrikaans, Dutch, English Government Constitutional monarchy Monarch  - 1952-1961 Queen Elizabeth II Governor-General  - 1959-1961 Charles Robberts Swart Prime Minister  - 1958-1961 Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd... For the legal definition of apartheid, see the crime of apartheid. ... This article is about the former British colony of Southern Rhodesia, todays Zimbabwe. ... Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe (November 16, 1904 – May 11, 1996), usually referred to as Nnamdi Azikiwe, or, informally and popularly, as Zik, was the founder of modern Nigerian nationalism and the first President of Nigeria, holding the position throughout the Nigerian First Republic. ... The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (ශ්රී ලංකා in Sinhala / இலங்கை in Tamil) (known as Ceylon before 1972) is a tropical island nation off the southeast coast of the Indian subcontinent. ... Motto Harambee(Swahili) Let us all pull together Anthem Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu O God of All Creation Capital (and largest city) Nairobi Official languages Swahili (since 1963), English[1] Demonym Kenyan Government Republic  -  President Mwai Kibaki  -  Vice President Moody Awori Independence from the United Kingdom   -  Date December 12, 1963...

See also

The English parliament in front of the King, c. ... This article is about the English charter issued in 1215. ... For other uses, see English Civil War (disambiguation). ... The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, was the overthrow of King James II of England (VII of Scotland) in 1688 by a union of Parliamentarians and the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau (William of Orange), who as a result ascended the English throne as William... The Bill of Rights 1689 is an English Act of Parliament with the long title An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown and known colloquially in the UK as the Bill of Rights. ... For a definition of Parliamentarism see: Parliamentary system of government. ... In English law, a petition of right was a remedy available to subjects to recover property from the Crown. ...

Notes

  1. ^ Oz Politics » Parliament
  2. ^ "The English Constitution" see Bibliography.

Bibliography

  • The English Constitution, Walter Bagehot, 1876. ISBN 0-521-46535-4, ISBN 0-521-46942-2.
  • British Cabinet Government, Simon James, Pub Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0-415-17977-7.
  • Prime Minister & Cabinet Government, Neil MacNaughton, 1999. ISBN 0-340-74759-5.

External links

  • The Twilight of Westminster? Electoral Reform & its Consequences, Pippa Norris, 2000.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Key Terms: Westminster System (397 words)
In essence, Westminster is the name given to the system of parliamentary democracy used in countries such as Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
In essence, the Westminster system is otherwise known as responsible government.
All three nations follow the principles of the Westminster system, in that governments are derived from the popularly-elected lower house.
Westminster system - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1315 words)
The Westminster system is a democratic system of government modelled after that of the United Kingdom system, as used in the Palace of Westminster, the location of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Most of the procedures of the Westminster system have originated with the conventions, practices and precedents of the UK parliament, which are a part of what is known as the British constitution.
The Westminster system tends to have extremely well-disciplined legislative parties in which it is highly unusual for a legislator to vote against their party, and in which no-confidence votes are very rare.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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