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Has the role of the Prime Minister become more presidential?

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Introduction

Has the role of the Prime Minister become more presidential? The English Prime Minister Tony Blair has already been accused of being an 'elective dictator' but has he also become an English president as well? To delve into the answer you have to obviously compare what a president is with what our prime minister is, or has become. Lets first start with what a president is: a president is the head of state that holds key powers. The title of head of state refers to status and legitimacy, it is supposed to be something our PM is not as that position is held by our monarch Queen Elizabeth II, but as the power of the monarchy has wavered over the recent century, a number of PMs have basically been acting as England's head of state. For example, Thatcher claimed her encounters with Reagan were meetings of two heads of state and at the funeral of Princess Diana it was Tony Blair rather than the queen who expressed the nation's sorrow in a speech. ...read more.

Middle

A major difference in the position of PM and president though is that the president is directly elected by a country-wide constituency. Until, or if the election process is ever changed the Prime Minister will never have the right to this claim, but in recent history though, as election turnouts have dwindled it is hard to ignore the fact that a large percentage of voters have voted based on the leader of each party, rather than local candidates. For example in the run up to the 1997 elections part of the Labour campaign focussed around presenting Blair as a likeable, "just like us" man, being photographed in his Newcastle football shirt. This is also confirmed by the media where opinion polls and often voting patterns are primarily centred on public feeling toward the Prime Minister, rather than to the governing party as a whole. Now onto the cabinet; While a president can appoint a cabinet based on personal choice, a prime minister is restricted in the fact that he must appoint elected MPs. ...read more.

Conclusion

They point to the infrequency and reduced length of Cabinet meetings, the PMs Preference for informal ad hoc meetings with small numbers of selected ministers and staff around the sofa of his private office and Balir's regular abandonment of Cabinet agendas as if he has his own personal mandate because he feels he has been directly elected president-like. In conclusion, you cannot ignore the fact that Tony Blair's premiership appears to have evolved away from traditional cabinet government. Blair has undermined his cabinet by placing them on the edge of decision-making and basically re-possessing the Cabinet Office as a personal resource. People who do not support this idea though point to the fact that Prime Ministers can never be fully independent of Parliament like a president is of congress, they must woo and coax their colleagues and their party to support them and their policies, they must carry major colleagues who are rivals with them, prime ministers operate in a structured context and that Parliament use strategies to control the executive, some of which cannot be avoided such as media uproar. ...read more.

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