Understanding Us/Uk Government and Politics: A Comparative Guide

By Duncan Watts | Go to book overview
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11
Voting and elections

Elections are the main mechanism for expressing the public's collective desires
about who should be in government and what the government should do.
Elections in Britain are not as frequent or extensive as they are in the United
States. There are no direct elections for the Executive as there are in a presi-
dential system. Neither are there primary elections within the parties to decide
on the choice of candidate
.

In this chapter, we examine a number of issues about the functioning of elections
in two democracies, looking at the electoral system, the nature and costs of the
campaign, and the way in which voters behave and the influences upon their
voting. In addition, we consider the use made particularly in America of
various forms of direct democracy
.


POINTS TO CONSIDER
Are the benefits of the First Past The Post method of voting outweighed by the disadvantages?
Who would gain from the introduction of some variant of proportional representation in Britain and the United States? What is the likelihood of the introduction of such a method of voting?
Does a low turnout signify broad contentment, or apathy?
'In British general elections and American presidential elections, turnout has declined in recent decades'. Are there common factors which explain the decline?
Why has turnout been falling in most countries in recent years?
Compare the level of popular involvement in British and American elections.
'Americans participate more in the workings of their democracy than do British people.' Is this true?
Which are the more important in voting behaviour today, long-term or short-term factors?
To what extent has partisan dealignment occurred in recent decades on both sides of the Atlantic?
Has class voting in Britain and the United States declined in recent years?
Why is television so infatuated with personalities?

-269-

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