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Is Britain an elective dictatorship?

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Is Britain an elective dictatorship? Lord Hailsham suggested the phrase elective dictatorship in his academic paper written in 1976. Elective dictatorship refers to the fusion of powers of the executive and the legislature; where the legislature is drawn from the executive therefore resulting in dominance of the executive over the legislature. Firstly the executive's majority in the House of Commons reinforces the executives dominance. Elective dictatorship occurs in conjunction with this situation and that of the governing party, the executive. The party in power will by definition have more seats, i.e. more voting power than all the opposition parties. This means that any legislation or motion proposed by the governing party could be passed unless government MPs dissents, because only a simple majority is required. Due to the strength of the whip system to prevent MPs of the governing party voting against it, in practice government bills are extremely rarely defeated in the House of Commons. The government proposes usually around 95% of the bills passed. ...read more.


Firstly this is seen by the relationship between the cabinet and the Prime Minister. Tony Blair's period as Prime Minister since 1997 has stimulated renewed debate about the location of power within the executive and the relationship between the Prime Minister and the cabinet. Blair's presidential style is reflected in his cabinet management. The meetings are short, and are held less frequently. The Prime Minister dominates executive decision, making key decisions without consulting the cabinet. For example an " Elective Dictatorship" meant Tony Blair was still able to proceed with the Iraq war even though most of his cabinet disagreed with him, and two of his cabinet ministers, Robin Cook and Claire Short resigned. However critics can also say that a Prime Ministerial style government has been around before Blair. Margaret Thatcher also had a Prime Ministerial style government for example she went against most of her cabinet in key decisions for example her decision for poll tax. Therefore Britain can be said to have had a "Elective Dictatorship" before the Blair government. ...read more.


When a vote of no confidence is passed in Parliament, every minister and government official drawn from Parliament automatically resign in their role as the executive, the entire executive is dismissed. Even though the powers of the House of Lords is restricted they are still able to act as a check on the executive. This is because they are still involved in the process of legislation. The house of lords has the power to amend and reject bills and also the House of Lords are able to delay bills. The power of the executive has grown and the checks are in place to prevent abuse of this power. It is important for the legislature to keep a watch on the executive so the control is maintained and it does not slip into a dictatorship. These checks mean that Britain is not theoretically an " Elective Dictatorship", as rules still exist which means the executive can not have a dictatorial role. Britain currently is not an " Elective Dictatorship", as the Parliament still has some effectiveness in scrutinising the executive, however as Britain is falling more into a Prime-ministerial style government there is possibility that Britain can become an "Elective Dictatorship." ...read more.

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