Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

LibDems reform package

The proposals are not new, but they've never been so close to the government. The reforms face a huge uphill route to enactment.

No. 2 Leader Unveils Plan to Overhaul British Politics
Describing Britain as “a fractured democracy,” Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg outlined a sweeping package of measures on Monday that he said would restore shattered public confidence, including a referendum on May 5 on a new voting system for Parliament.

The measures will include a bill to eliminate the prime minister’s traditional power to call a new election at any time during the five-year life of each parliament, among the prerogatives that have given British prime ministers a wide and sometimes overbearing authority in their dealings with legislators...

Speaking before the Commons, Mr. Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, partners with the Conservatives in the two-month-old government, called the changes an effort to “restore the trust in our political system that has been tested to its limits” by, among other things, last year’s scandal over abuses of parliamentary expenses…

A pledge by the Conservatives to hold a referendum on a new voting system was the price Mr. Clegg extracted for leading his party, the Liberal Democrats, into the coalition after the May election. The Liberals, Britain’s perennial third-place party, believe that the “alternative vote” system on which voters are to decide would give them a fairer share of seats than the current system…

Other proposed changes include a reduction of 50 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons; a redrawing of district boundaries to limit to 5 percent the variation between the number of voters in each district; a new recall power for voters when a lawmaker is found guilty of “serious wrongdoing”; a requirement that the House of Lords be either wholly or partly elected; and tighter rules for lobbyists, including that they enroll in a new parliamentary register.

The changes are expected to face strong opposition from powerful factions in the three major parties…

Nick Clegg's web site details his reform proposals

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