The Analysis of Political Systems

By Douglas V. Verney | Go to book overview

II
PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNMENT

PARLIAMENTARISM is the most widely adopted system of government, and it seems appropriate to refer to British parliamentary experience in particular because it is the British system which has provided an example for a great many other countries. Nowadays when it is fashionable to speak of political systems and theories as 'not for export' it is worth bearing in mind the success with which a system adopted piecemeal to suit British constitutional developments has proved feasible in different situations abroad. This is not to imply that the British parliamentary system should be taken as the model and that others are, as it were, deviations from the norm, although generations of Englishmen have been tempted to make this assumption. Mr. Churchill remarked, when plans for a new House of Commons were being discussed, that it should be oblong in shape like the old.

'Logic, which has created in so many countries semi-circular assemblies with buildings that give to every member, not only a seat to sit in, but often a desk to write at, with a lid to bang, has proved fatal to Parliamentary Government as we know it here in its home and in the land of its birth.' (393 H.C. Debates 5s., cols. 403-4.)

Yet of the eleven west European countries which are members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union only one, The Netherlands, has an oblong chamber like the British, and in all the chambers, the Netherlands included, Members of Parliament have their own seats. These arrangements do not appear to have been 'fatal' to parliamentary government.

Indeed an examination of parliamentarism in various

-17-

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The Analysis of Political Systems
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • I - Introduction 1
  • Part 0ne - The Structure of Government 15
  • II - Parliamentary Government 17
  • III - Presidential Government 39
  • IV - Convention Theory 57
  • Part Two - The Political Process 95
  • VI - 'Classical' Democracy 99
  • VII - Representative Democracy And Political Parties 115
  • VIII - The Political Process: Interests and Pressure Groups 129
  • IX - Elite Theories 157
  • X - The 'Iron Law of Oligarchy' 174
  • XI - Class War 186
  • Part Three - Conclusion 197
  • XII - Government and the Political Process 199
  • Index 233
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