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Politics and Parliament - What's it all about?

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Politics and Parliament - What's it all about? Introduction Parliament, legislative or deliberative assembly. The original idea of parliament was of a place where talking took place. The name derives from the French verb parler-to talk. In practice, talking is only one, and now not necessarily the most important, of the functions which parliaments perform. The terms used to describe parliament also vary: congress, legislature, and assembly being among the more common. Origins The roots of parliaments are many and diverse. The oldest surviving parliament is generally regarded as being the Althing in Iceland, but a break in its function in the 19th century means that the longest continuous parliament is the Tynwald of the Isle of Man. Among the oldest is the British Parliament, which has probably been the most influential in developing the traditions of parliamentary government. Its roots lie with the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot and the advisory council of the Norman kings, the Curia Regis. As a recognizable parliament, however, it goes back at least to the mid-13th century. Development Parliaments in England were called originally because monarchs needed help with raising money. The tradition quickly developed that before any taxation was agreed, grievances would be presented; not surprisingly, monarchs tried to manage without parliaments when they could. By the early 17th century the English Parliament had embarked on a struggle for supremacy with the Crown. The English Civil War was the result. A further struggle between Crown and Parliament was required later in the century to resolve the dispute fully. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688-1689 it became clear that monarchs ruled with the assent of Parliament, and power gradually passed from the monarch to ministers responsible to Parliament, though in an age of limited franchise and with no secret ballot the monarch was able to have a substantial influence on the outcome of elections. In the course of the 18th and 19th centuries the power of the monarch waned and Parliament became accepted as the sovereign body. ...read more.


In the United States the Senate is elected from states as units rather than the single-member constituencies of the House of Representatives. The Australian system has some similarities to this: the lower house, the House of Representatives, consists of 148 members elected from single-member constituencies while in the upper house or Senate each state has 12 members elected from the state at large. In some systems the second chamber may not be elected at all; for example, the House of Lords in the United Kingdom consists of those who have inherited peerages; those who have been nominated to serve by being given life, or very rarely now, hereditary peerages; and law lords (senior lawyers) and senior bishops of the Church of England. In the case of the Canadian Senate, membership is nominated. In some cases, as with the upper house in Germany, the Bundesrat, there is a system of indirect election, in this case of representatives of the individual units of the country, the Lander. The European Parliament Evidence of the need for parliaments is provided by the fact that although the European Union is not yet a state, it has a parliament. Since 1979 this body has been directly elected by the citizens of the Union. Elections are held every four years and membership in the Parliament is allocated among the member countries of the Union in a way that pays some regard to their populations. The Parliament currently has 624 seats. The smallest country, Luxembourg, has six seats and the largest, Germany, 99; France, Italy, and Great Britain each have 87 seats. Political Elections The formal process of selecting a person for public office or accepting or rejecting a political proposition by voting. The widespread use of elections in the modern world has its origins in the gradual emergence of representative government in Europe and North America since the 17th century. Elections provide a means of making political choices by voting. ...read more.


Political parties originated in their modern form in Europe and the United States in the 19th century, along with the electoral and parliamentary systems, whose development reflects the evolution of parties. The term party has since come to be applied to all organized groups seeking political power, whether by democratic elections or by revolution. In earlier, pre-Revolutionary, aristocratic and monarchical regimes, the political process unfolded within restricted circles in which cliques and factions, grouped around particular noblemen or influential personalities, were opposed to one another. The establishment of parliamentary regimes and the appearance of parties at first scarcely changed this situation. To cliques formed around princes, dukes, counts, or marquises there were added cliques formed around bankers, merchants, industrialists, and businessmen. Regimes supported by nobles were succeeded by regimes supported by other elites. These narrowly based parties were later transformed to a greater or lesser extent, for in the 19th century in Europe and America there emerged parties depending on mass support. The 20th century saw the spread of political parties throughout the entire world. In Africa large parties have sometimes been formed in which a modern organization has a more traditional ethnic or tribal basis; in such cases the party leadership is frequently made up of tribal chiefs. In certain areas of Asia, membership in modern political parties is often determined largely by religious factors or by affiliation with ritual brotherhoods. Many political parties in the developing countries are partly political, partly military. Certain Socialist and Communist parties in Europe earlier experienced the same tendencies. These last-mentioned European parties have demonstrated an equal aptitude for functioning within multiparty democracies and as the sole political party in a dictatorship. Developing originally within the framework of liberal democracy in the 19th century, political parties have been used in the 20th century by dictatorships for entirely undemocratic purposes. Leader of the Conservative Party - Ian Duncan Smith Leader of the Labour Party - Tony Blair Leader of the Liberal Democrats Party - Charles Kennedy Neel Joshi Tutorial Politics Assignment Page 1 of 6 ...read more.

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