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To What Extent Is the Uk’s Government Becoming More Presidential? Discuss

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To what extent is the Uk’s government becoming more Presidential? Discuss

A presidential system is a republican system of government where a head of government is also head of state and leads an executive branch that is separate from the legislative branch. The United States, for instance, has a presidential system. Whereas, a prime ministerial system adopts a fused system, in which the three branches of government are fused together and the monarchy is head of state. The Uk, for instance has a prime ministerial government, where Queen Elizabeth is head of state and David Cameron is the Executive. One could argue that the Uk’s government has become marginally presidential, as the need for a cabinet has become less over time. However, the UK are still a fused government in which powers are shared within parliament, unlike a presidential system.

The tendency of Prime Ministers to distance themselves from their party and government has increased, developing a personal ideological stance. Prime Ministers such as Blair and Thatcher are key examples. Both Prime Ministers have developed their own stances: “Blairism” and “Thatcherism’. Blair, for example, had really bad attendance at Parliament and his Cabinet Ministers have been quoted as saying that: “Cabinet meeting sometimes lasted only fifteen minutes.” also, Blair decided a lot of his policies within the Pm’s office, rather than discussing it with his cabinet. For example, the decision to go to war with Iraq was seen as sofa politics and a singular decision rather than a plural decision with the cabinet. This shows that Blair had a tendency to act like a president. Tony Blair was also actively trying to be a leader in world affairs, like going abroad and making key decisions about other countries like Iraq. Thus, showing that he was increasingly becoming like an american president and trying to move the UK to a more presidential system. On the other hand, one could argue that it is impossible for the UK Prime Minister to become a President, even though he may act like one. The UK has a system of a Parliamentary Government rather than a Presidential system, in which all branches are fused and actively working together. Furthermore, this shows that the government is becoming marginally presidential, but not to an extent like the USA. Additionally, it is certainly evident that cabinet government still exists in the UK, e.g. John Major 1990-1997 and the recently failed coup on Gordon Brown. Coalition government and the cabinet still meets once a week, showing that the Uk is still a plural Executive, and not a singular like in a presidential system.

A president is usually safer in their position of power: it is fairly difficult for said person to be kicked out of their presidency, due to the powers invested in them by their codified constitution. Whereas, a British PM can be ousted out a lot easily by their cabinet. An example of this is Margaret Thatcher in November 1990 when she had lost the support of the majority of her cabinet and decided to leave office to save her from the humiliation of being forced to leave by a vote of no confidence. Furthermore, this demonstrates how the UK is not becoming more presidential. However, the President can be impeached, which means they are forced to leave due to doing something illegal, which does not often happen but is a way in which the UK’s government is becoming more presidential. Conversely, you need to have a legal precedent to kick a President out rather than a democratic precedent in the UK.

The PM is increasingly acting more like a head of state, e.g hosting foreign dignitaries instead of the Queen, who is head of state in the UK. A president is head of state so therefore this is an example of the PM acting like a president. Also, the PM is becoming progressively centre of attention within the media. Furthermore, this is due to the 24 hour news coverage in the UK, the PM is often seen giving speeches, announcing policies to the nation, addressing the nation, instead of the Queen. This is very much presidential like the US state of the union address, which is a yearly address delivered in January by the President of the US to Congress, giving the administration's view of the state of the nation and plans for legislation. However, it could be argued that with David Cameron persistently trying to hide from doing Tv debates in the upcoming weeks of the may 2015 election, that the UK’s current government is becoming more covert and wanting less media coverage. Thus, suggesting that the current government is becoming less presidential.

It is certainly evident that, the Uk’s branches of government are still fused and actively working together, whereas the USA have three separate branches of government that work completely separately with the President having being the most powerful individual in the country. Additionally, in the absence of a written constitution in the UK powers are limited within the three branches of government, including the Executive and the Monarchy still hold a lot of influence over the UK and decisions made within it. Whereas, a presidential system have separate powers for all three branches of government. Additionally, the prime minister’s office is compared to the presidential office, but the role of each is entirely different. For the prime minister’s strengthening control mechanisms are directed at the executive, to dominate ministers and their departments, whilst the executive offices of the US president are directed at lobbying and persuading the legislature.

To conclude, Parliamentary and presidential systems are institutionally distinct, which means that universal forces such as personalisation play out differently and are as likely to drive them further apart as bring them closer together. Although it is often argued that there has been a decrease in cabinet government, the coalition government proves that the PM is not singular and is plural. For example, the Liberal Democrats have 2 out of 4 key people in the cabinet, which the PM cannot ignore as he requires their support to pass legislation and ultimately they helped the conservatives get into power in the first place, thus suggesting that the Executive which includes the PM is still very much plural and not singular like the USA and other countries with a presidential system of government. However, with the increase of media coverage of the PM and the recent agreed fixed terms along with other features means that UK government have seen an increase of presidential features but that does not mean that the UK have completely distanced themselves from a prime ministerial government and thus suggesting that they are becoming presidential to only a small extent.


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