Non-U.S. Dopers: Tell me about your government

So I realised last night that I know nothing about the way anyplace else in the world is run. I figure I’ll understand better, or at the very least be less bored, if I ask people living elsewhere in the world to tell me what their ruling government is like, rather than looking it up in some dry encyclopedia or something. So, tell me about your government: what form it takes, who holds the power, how involved it is in daily aspect of people’s lives, whether it works well or poorly. I’m interested in anything at all you have to tell me.

btw, Australian Dopers, I really want to hear from you, since it was realising that I know nothing about Australia that prompted me to start this thread. Not that I don’t want to hear from other Dopers, but since Australia piqued my curiosity they’re naturally the ones I’m most interested in hearing from.

Where to begin though? They are the conservative party in Australia and yet, paradoxically, are called the *Liberal Party{/i]. It’s led by John Howard who proudly calls himself the most conservative leader we’ve ever had. In reality, he is in fact the most reactionary we’ve ever had. He pines for the fifties in which he grew up and this attitude informs almost every policy decision he has made.

For example, one of his top people in the party made an attack on an openly gay High Court justice. It turns out that the evidence was a forgery and the accuser just had a bee up his arse about fags. Anyway, since Johnny wouldn’t have a whole lot of truck with poofs either, he stuck by his mate rather than defend the honour and reputation of one our highest ranking and most progressive jurists.

Another example. Around September 11, we were headed for an election. Howard was in deep shit but just when he needed it, the WTC was attacked and he was there for it. So the little prick is in the midst of the cameras, licking Dubya’s ball sack and committing resources we can nowhere near afford. Predictably, the electorate clung to the leader as it always will at the onset of a conflict. Just to top it off, a Norwegian container ship picked up a boatload of refugees in distress as they are required to by the Law of the Sea. But when they tried to land these people, Howard sends our SAS (who are also getting screwed by the goverment) onto the ship and forces them out to sea again. By this stage, the ship can no longer be considered seaworthy considering the number of people and lack of life vests. Didn’t matter though. Rednecks from around Australia were cheering this behaviour on madly and so he rushes through some of the most half arsed, appalling legislation to ensure we can shirk our responsibilities under treaties to these people. At the beginning of his goverment, he also gave free reign to a minor, but racist and bewildered political party of nincompoops rather than shouting them down as the dickheads they were.

They’ve unsuccessfully tried to illegally have our domestic security agency spy on our opposition. They had our electronic spies listen into conversations between the ship I just mentioned and Australian citizens. Also illegal.

He’s blocked heroin trials which were considered by experts from all walks of life and professions to be the way to go.

The government refused to quash discriminatory legislation citing State/Territorial autonomy. Then he quashes that same territory’s world leading euthanasia legislation without a care for territorial autonomy.

The government has driven the state of Australian IT into the ground with one of the most tech unsavy men you can imagine as minister for IT. Guinness record deserving stupidity in their world famous Internet censorship legislation and giving free reign to our largest telco and media magnates to keep a stranglehold on the media and Internet in Australia.

I could go on but my girlfriend is giving me looks. No sex unless I get off the DAMN internet:D

So, I guess you could say I’m pretty happy with our government.

Britain has a bicameral parliamentary system (two houses). The House of Commons has around 650 Members of Parliament (MPs), each elected to represent one constituency in the UK and each a member of a political party. Independent candidates are not unknown but are very rare, as only a large party organisation can provide the funding necessary for a prolonged election campaign.

MPs theoretically work under the principle of Burkean representation: although elected by their constituents, they must represent the interests of the country as whole primarily. The political parties have favoured lists of candidates, and the local party headquarters interviews them before selecting a final candidate. This has been controversial in recent years, with the Labour party using such lists to ensure that only centrist, ‘on-message’ candidates are selected (rather than traditional left-wing types) despite public opinion.

Elections occur once every five years based on a simple first-past-the-post (FPTP) system. Whoever gets the most votes in his or her constituency wins (each vote gets one vote, no redistribution or preferences involved). Of course, this has also caused controversy, since it can result in parties with a large percentage of the vote nationally having no power at all if their candidates don’t win individual seats. The government of the day gets to pick the date of the election – unsurprisingly it’s often timed to coincide with news of successes, or budget tax cuts, or opposition scandals.

The party with the most seats forms the government. In the event that the total number of seats held by other parties outnumbers them there may be a hung parliament – a stalemate. For example, the Conservatives and the Ulster Unionists usually vote together, and the Liberal Democrats have been known to support Labour occasionally. The executive branch of government consists of a cabinet of ministers from the winning party, led by a Prime Minister. Although theoretically primus inter pares (first among equals) the PM is increasingly presidential in style these days – thanks Maggie and Tony.

Legislation is tabled by the executive according to a tight schedule for the parliamentary session, and is usually based around ‘promises’ to the electorate contained in a manifesto document issued by each party prior to the election. Can you guess how much those promises are really worth?

Bills (think: unapproved legislation) are debated in the Commons by all MPs, then sent to specialist committees of interested MPs for detailed review, debated again, then sent to the House of Lords – see below – who approve or reject the bill. If everyone eventually agrees the Queen rubber-stamps the bill and it becomes an Act, to be enforced by the judiciary. The Queen could theoretically refuse, but this would likely be ignored by the government, overturned by new legislation to curb the monarch’s powers, or result in the collapse of public support for the monarchy.

The House of Lords is in a state of change. Hereditary peers (those who inherit their position through blood) are being turfed out in favour of life peers, theoretically selected by the government on an impartial basis based on their specialist skills. Only cynics would suggest that it has only the thinnest veneer of impartiality and is nothing more than a way to reward your cronies in the private sector. Although the Lords can reject bills, they cannot ‘destroy’ them, only demand that the government amends and resubmits the bill. They cannot do this for finance-related bills such as the budget. The most damage that can be done is to screw up the legislative timetable by constantly rejecting a bill, so that the government doesn’t have time to pass its key legislation.

Britain has three main parties:

[ul][li]Conservatives (Tories): traditionally right-wing, the Conservatives also had Disraeli’s heritage of ‘one-nation conservatism’ – that is, ideas of noblesse oblige and paternalistic social services were never anathema. However, when Margaret Thatcher took over as leader in the 1970s the party changed somewhat, adding laissez faire economics and a belief that the private sector was always more efficient. Privatisation and the sale of council homes proved somewhat successful (especially in terms of winning the support of homeowners and big business) and the Tories were secure in power for much of the 1980s. She maintained the traditional emphasis on ‘family values’ despite various scandals during her leadership.[/li]
However, her style became increasingly autocratic. She alienated her party and eventually the voters – the turning point usually highlighted were the poll tax riots, where middle class voters joined in riots in London in 1989 (IIRC) to protest at a highly unpopular new taxation system based on number of occupants rather than size/value of property. She was brought down through the party’s arcane leadership selection system.

Her successors muddled through, but were increasingly undermined by a fundamental split in the party that remains to this day: Europe. The Tories are split between europhiles and eurosceptics, and this very public mess has certainly made them look a divided party unable to maintain a coherent policy. Living in the shadow of Thatcher’s style also reflected badly on her comparatively personality-free successors (Major and Hague).

Since 1997 the party has been in crisis. Unable to reconcile the two wings over Europe, trying desperately to reinvent itself to reclaim traditional policies now espoused by Labour, without a ‘big name’ leader. Traditionally Conservatives pointed to their lack of concrete policies as a sign of pragmatism and flexibility matching the spirit of the term ‘conservative’; now it hurts the party as it has no real policies with which to differentiate itself from Labour.

[li]Labour: currently the party in power, with an overwhelming majority. Tony Blair, the PM, is seen as young, dynamic, spineless, unprincipled, too busy doing what pollsters tell him too and (lately) more concerned with looking good on the world stage. [/li]
Labour was the party of the industrial working class; socialist, paternalistic, based around the support of unions and voters in poorer industrialised northern areas. As Thatcher demolished the British political landscape in the 1980s the Labour party imploded into ‘loony left’ factions. Despite some horrible stereotyping the Labour party was out of touch, making stories of excessive political correctness common. Their 1983 manifesto was famously described as “the longest suicide note in history”.

Blair (and to a lesser degree, his sadly deceased predecessor John Smith) moved the party to the right, getting popular with big business and the increasingly affluent southern middle classes – traditional Conservative territory. All vestiges of traditional Labour policy – unilateralism, nationalisation etc – were abandoned. Beaten at their own game, the Tories crumbled in 1997 and Labour looks safe for the next election too.

[li]Liberal Democrats: the third party, never realistically in with a shout to win elections, but increasingly popular as the only real alternative to the centre-right policies of Labour and the Tories. Centre-left by US standards (pro-electoral reform, constantly debating soft drug legalisation etc).[/ul][/li]
Wow. I’m sure to have missed something there. Sorry for that in advance.

Damn. I did forget one thing.

In the Commons, parties rely heavily on their internal disciplinary systems. MPs are ‘encouraged’ to vote with the party line by the party whips (MPs appointed to bully their colleagues into line). The methods used can be downright terrible – career blackmail, threats, promises of power etc. If a government has a majority over all other parties together, and has an effective whip system, it can therefore pretty much bulldozer any legislation it likes through parliament. The is A Bad Thing.

I would commend you have a look at the Parliament of Australia website.

On a technical level, the Australian Parliamentary system is comparable to the UK model.

Some differences:

  1. Head of State is the Governor General. They are appointed by QEII on the advise of the Prime Minister, and act according to the PM’s advise (except for the reserve powers used in the case of a parliamentary deadlock).

  2. The House of Representatives is the equivalent of the House of Commons. It’s dominated by the two main parties (Liberal and Labor [note not Labour]). There are only 3 independent members. Election terms are currently three years. The 150 representatives have single member electorates. We use preferential voting rather than first-past-the-post. Electorates are based around the same number of voters and regularly redrawn to reflect population changes. Some Australian electorates are very large. e.g. Kalgoorlie in WA is about the size of Texas.

As in the UK, the leader of the party (or coalition) that can commands a simple magority in the HoR becomes the Prime Minister. The PM can be replaced at anytime by a simple majority vote in his party room.

As in the UK, the PM can call an election at virtually any time. There are certain precursors that need to be met, but these triggers are not difficult to establish. Parliaments rarely run their full three years, 2-2 1/2 years being the norm

  1. Not having a hereditary peerage, in Australia the equivalent to the UK House of Lords is called the Senate. It acts as a “house of review”. In theory it is designed to represent the states and prevent the more populous states (NSW/Vic) overriding the others. Each state has 12 Senators, regardless of population (the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory have two).
    In actual fact it works in the same party political way of the HoR. Senators are elected to six year terms, half being re-elected every three years

In the Senate, proportional representation is used. This ensures that minority parties have a better change of gaining representation. There are currently 13 of 72 Senators from “minority parties” In fact, the Senate is now structured so that no one party can expect to gain an absolute magority (barring two consequecutive landslides).

  1. Australia has notionally the same independent public service model as the UK, though it is also rapidly changing to the more partisan appointments used in the US.

  2. The information above relates to the Federal Government. Each state has a (near) mirror image parliamentary system.

Could we import your system please? Here in Canada, governments are constitutionally limited to five years, and some of them make the most of it. Brian Mulroney, Pierre Trudeau, are you listening?

Well, except for Trudeau, perhaps the rest of you can listen…

And Jean Chretien, Mike Harris–we’re watching. OK Mr. Harris, your in the clear for now, but your follower, Mr. Eves–we’re still watching.

CANADA. Canada is a constitutional monarchy. The Queen of the UK is also the Queen of Canada; her representative in Canada is the Governor-General, who serves as head of state and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces. Neither the Queen nor the GG have any practical power.

Parliament (located in Ottawa, Ontario) is composed of two houses: the Senate, which is appointed and, once again, has little in the way of real power, and the House of Commons. The House of Commons consists of 301 members (called Members of Parliament, or MPs), elected to represent the 301 electoral districts, or ‘ridings,’ across the country.

Whichever party has the most seats in the House forms the government, and its leader becomes the Prime Minister and appoints the Cabinet. The party with the next-most seats forms the Official Opposition, and its leader becomes the Leader of the Opposition.

Currently, the centrist Liberal Party is in power; its head, Jean Chrétien, is the prime minister. The right-wing western Canadian Alliance party is the Official Opposition; the leader of the opposition is Stephen Harper. They are followed by the Bloc Québécois (a generally left-wing party which advocates the separation of the province of Quebec from the rest of Canada); the New Democrats (a left-wing social-democratic party), and the Progressive Conservatives (a moderate right-wing party).

Laws are introduced by MPs and voted on by the House. In most cases, each party imposes a party line which its caucus members are required to follow. If a law passes in the House, it is passed to the Senate and studied; they generally pass it back to the House, then to the Senate, then the House, then the Senate. If they survive this process, they are passed to the Governor-General, who gives them royal assent, and they are passed into law. In general, legislation introduced by a majority government will pass.

Canada is officially bilingual, English and French, and the business of the federal government must be carried on and made available in both official languages.

Our Constitution began as an act of the British parliament. It was repatriated in 1982, and is now our own business. According to the Constitution (which Quebec has never signed - whence a good deal of the friction), powers are rather strictly divided between the federal and provincial levels of government. The federal government is largely concerned with taxation, the armed forces, diplomatic policy, various social programs, and other national issues. The provinces are responsible for health, education, other social programs, and municipal affairs. In addition to the taxes they collect, provinces receive transfer payments from the federal government to pay for their programs. Canada is one of the most decentralized countries in the world.

Moving on to the provinces: There are ten provinces and three territories in Canada (provinces are much more independent than territories). The provinces, from west to east, are:

British Columbia (capital Victoria)
Alberta (Edmonton)
Saskatchewan (Regina)
Manitoba (Winnipeg)
Ontario (Toronto)
Quebec (Quebec City)
New Brunswick (Fredericton)
Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown)
Nova Scotia (Halifax)
Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John’s)

The three territories are the Yukon (Whitehorse), Northwest Territories (Yellowknife), and Nunavut (Iqaluit).

Provinces have a parliamentary system like the House of Commons except that they lack senates. Provincial districts elect members to the house (Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) in Quebec, Members of the Provincial Parliament (MPPs) in Ontario, Members of the House of Assembly (MHAs) in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in all other provinces). The head of the ruling party in each province is the premier. The Queen’s representatives to the provinces are the lieutenant-governors.

The province of Quebec is officially French-speaking and is the seat of most of the French-Canadian population. (Substantial populations also exist in New Brunswick, which is officially bilingual, Ontario, and Manitoba.) Based on the uniqueness of its language and culture, there has been a political movement over the last several decades to separate from Canada and form a sovereign country. This has been defeated in referenda several times, most recently in 1995.

Although the National Question, as it’s called, remains unresolved and Quebec has yet to sign the Constitution, interest in the whole question has greatly waned in Quebec. Although people remain federalist or sovereignist, there is little interest in arguing about it any further, and any further discussion is largely spurred by the squabblings of politicians attempting to foment either Québécois or Canadian nationalism to either further or obfuscate their own power-seeking.

A few links:

Government of Canada
Parliament of Canada

Government of British Columbia
Government of Alberta
Government of Saskatchewan
Government of Manitoba
Government of Ontario
Government of Quebec
Government of New Brunswick
Government of Prince Edward Island
Government of Nova Scotia
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
Government of the Yukon
Government of the Northwest Territories
Government of Nunavut

Assembly of First Nations
Inuit Tapirisat of Canada

Liberal Party of Canada
Canadian Alliance
Bloc Québécois
New Democratic Party of Canada
Progressive Conservative Party of Canada

And of course:

Vote matt_mcl, NDP Verdun/St-Henri/St-Paul/Pointe-St-Charles!

Now for the opinions. The Liberal Party has a stranglehold on power, which they retain at election time by pretending to be New Democrats and disguising the fact that they govern like the Alliance. Our Senate is incredibly silly and pointless and needs to be either scrapped or replaced with something better, such as a proportional representation system.

In the last election, the Liberals took 57% of the house with 40% of the popular vote; the NDP took 4% of the house with 9% of the popular vote. They got 14 times our seats with 4 times our votes. (cite) We’re one of only 3 countries in the world with a population over 8 million that lack proportional representation.

Here is the NDP’s position on proportional representation.

Let’s see… what have we covered so far?

Mersavets gave us a rather strong view of the current Australian government. I haven’t the time to contest what was said - actually, I agree with much of it - only to simply say in the government’s defence, the Coalition has had a strong economic record. Coupled with a claim to strong leadership, this has proven to be very attractive thing in times of uncertainty.

woolly provided a very nice summary of the working details of the Government.

This could be prefaced by a general statement on the Australian system of government:[ul][li]The Commonwealth Constitution establishes a Federal system of government. Power is shared between the Federal government (the Commonwealth) and the six States. (The three Territories - the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, and Norfolk Island - have self-government arrangements.)[/li][li]Parliament is the heart of government. Parliament is made up by the Queen (represented by the Governor-General), the House of Representatives and the Senate. These three elements make Australia a constitutional monarchy, a federation and a parliamentary democracy.[/ul]To this I might add some detail on the division of powers between the Commonwealth (Federal) Government and the States. [/li]
Australia’s government operates on a principle of Federalism, much like the United States. However, the power of the Federal Government is limited by the Commonwealth Consitution of Australia. Government can only legislate on matters over which it has been expressly granted power. Things like defence, trade and commerce, corporations and taxation are within the ambit of Commonwealth power.

By contrast, the States can legislate on virtually any matter. The “Peace, Order and Good Governance” power means State Governments can makes laws on anything, subject to certain limitations in the States Constitutions.

So it seems we have enshrined in the Constitution a system which retains the power of States and shackles the power of the Commonwealth. Coupled with the Commonwealth Senate - notionally, a house of the States - we have a strong system of State autonomy. Right? Wrong!

woolly has already alluded to the partisan nature of the Senate. It is a complete fiction that the Senate exists to protect the rights of the States - in fact, it has been shown that the Senate has never operated as such an organ.

Further eroding the principle of Federalism is the clever use by the Commonwealth of its powers. One of these is the power to make financial grants to the States. After a succession of High Court cases, it is clear that the Commonwealth is allowed to attach very strict conditions to its grants. If the States want the money, they must first agree to spend it on what the Commonwealth decides. By extension, this gives it a effective power over matters outside Commonwealth legislative power.

For example, the Commonwealth has no power over to construct roads. That is the province of the States. However, since the 1920s, the Commonwealth has shown it can simply grant $x States, but only if they spend x on constucting a certain road.

(Ironically, this grants power was only written into the Constitution as a concession to NSW. It was bait for NSW to join the Federation, but now it is used to erode the power of the States.)
So what are we missing now? The political composition of government is an important topic, but I’m no expert in the area. Any other Aussie want to take up the baton?

A question matt_mcl .

Obviously drafting legislation in both English and French must be a nightmare. What steps are taken to get consistency? What happens if some legal eagle finds a mechanism to exploit a linguistic loophole?

Excellent point that I’d never considered. Surely it has come up before? Imagine the trouble for Switzerland where they have the constitution in either 3 or 4 different languages.

BTW, excuse my first response. I took the OP to mean World Book type explanations were not what was sought. However, my response is possibly more inappropriate for this forum.

Okay, getting off Commonwealth countries for a bit, I have a question about Israeli politics. I’ve read that the Israeli legislature (the Knesset, if I recall the name correctly) has a electoral system that allows relatively small political parties to wield disproportionate power. Is this true or just an opinion held by outsiders? What exactly are the procedures that are being refered to? Do most Israelis think this is a good thing or a bad thing?

I’m sure it’s happened, but not often. French and English are not such radically different languages that the concepts in one are completely foreign to the other. An English translation of the Quebec legal code is not that hard to understand (not counting Article 229; “All your base are belong to us”) and though legal challenges on the wording of laws are common enough (as they are in most countries with an effective court system) I don’t know of any English-speaking person in Quebec who quibbled on how a law was translated. Despite the political hand-wringing, many citizens of Quebec are fully bilingual and an attempt to play word games would get the contempt it deserved.

Interestingly, some lesser-used English words pop up in the translations, including Article 302 of the Quebec Civil Code: “Every legal person has a patrimony…” This sent me scrambling for a dictionary when I first found it (it means “Heritage”).

Translation of official documents in Canada is a very serious business, and is taken care of early in the process.

Canada’s legal system, like that of Great Britain and the United States, relies heavily on precedent. Given that and the attention paid to translation detail, it is quite inconceivable that this would present a problem; in the first place a linguistic loophole would probably never happen, and in the second, laws are interpreted with attention paid to precedent anyway, so you could not just wholly reinvent your interpretation of a law twenty years down the line.

Something Matt did not mention is that the political parties that matter in Canada’s federal government (Liberals, Alliance, PC, NDP and Bloc Quebecois) are not necessarily the same parties that will matter in provincial politics. The Alliance party does not presently have any provincial wing. The Bloc’s loose ally in Quebec is the Parti Quebecois, which obviously exists only in Quebec. The Liberals exist in every provincial legislature, some more than others. The PCs and NDP are in most provincial legislatures, but not all, and some provinces have their own provincial-specific parties, including the Saskatchewan Party in (duh) Saskatchewan, the Social Credit party in BC, and Action Democratique in Quebec.

Canada, unlike the US, is a regionally fractured and divided state, with considerable differences of perception between the various provinces.

  • Ontario is the most populous and economically powerful of all provinces, owning almost two fifths of Canada’s population, almost half its economy, its largest and most important city (Toronto) and its national capital and fourth largest city (Ottawa) and considerable media dominance; it is also, as a matter of important geographical fact, more or less in the middle of the country. Ontario is sort of like what the U.S. would have if you combined New York, California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Washington D.C. and made it one giant super-state. The Liberal Party gets almost 2/3 of its support from here, and so other provinces consider Ontario to be de facto running the nation, and people outside Ontario are sometimes quite resentful of it.

  • Quebec, the second-most-populous province and with its second-biggest city, Montreal, has been the political focus of Canada for forty years. The constant English-French conflict has been Canada’s obsession for 400 years. The nature of Canadian politics is such that Quebecois interests must be appeased for long term political success. Quebecois politicians have dominated Canada’s political scene, and all our recent Prime Ministers who have lasted longer than a few months were Quebecois. Consequently, everyone else in Canada thinks QUEBEC runs the show, including Ontario. Quebec, on the other hand, is split between those who want to be a part of Canada, those who want to be a part of Canada but want concessions from it, and those who want to be a sovereign state. Quebecois tend, by far, to be the most ignorant of Canadians in terms of national affairs (matt_mcl is certainly an exception.)

  • The Eastern provinces (Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island) are compartively small, have small populations, and have poor economies… not Third World by any means, but much weaker than the rest of the country. Early in Canada’s history, the federal government adopted economic policies that proved ruinous to Eastern Canada. Today Eastern Canada is heavily dependent on federal aid and, because of the perverse-incentive-laden nature of the way redistribution is handled, are demotivated from economic development. Eastern provinces tend to think they’re getting screwed, but also tend to still vote for the major, older parties because, to be brutally honest, that’s where the social spending is. Eastern provinces are overrepresented in Parliament due to Canada’s somewhat anachronistic way of allocatiing seats in the House, but they’re still a small minority.

  • The Western provinces (B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) tend to be more conservative than the central and eastern provinces, Alberta especially. New parties tend to be created here; Matt’s New Democratic Party is the evolution of the old CCF, a Western protest party, and the Alliance party is the evolution of the Reform Party, a Western protest party (and no relation to the U.S. Reform Party.)

Alberta is Canada’s richest province per capita, by far, due to oil revenues and a fiscally responsible provincial government; they also pay a huge amount of money to the federal government in redistribution payments, which pisses them off, so they vote for the right-wing Alliance. B.C. is less conservative and slightly less economically successful, but also tends to vote Alliance. Saskatchewan and Manitoba, agriculturally heavy provinces, tend to swing both ways. The West is underrepresented in the Commons and, with some justification, believes that the federal government doesn’t give a crap about them except to take their money. Until recently, our Prime Minister had - this is literally true - visited Western Canada less often than he had visited Europe during his time in office.

So what does it all mean?

Prior to 1990, Canada had only two and a half major parties; the Liberals and PCs, both of whom date back to the 19th century, who won all the elections, and the NDP, who always won 20-40 seats but never came close to winning. Despite Western resentment and Quebecois ambivalence about being part of Canada, all three parties won here and there right across the country.

The PC government led by Brian Mulroney (1984-1993) won power in Ottawa by recruiting separatist forces in Quebec to help them oust the Liberals, who the separatists hated for A) repatriating the Constitution without their approval and B) beating them in the 1980 referendum and C) being Pierre Trudeau’s party. Mulroney actually had devoted separatists in his Cabinet. Mulroney attempted to get separatist approval for the Constitution (and hence hopefully end separatism forever) through what was called the Meech Lake Accord, which gave Quebec some special recognition. In 1990, this failed in hilarious and spectacular fashion. A followup attempt in 1992, the Charlottetown Accord, was torpedoed in a national referendum.

When Meech failed, the PC Party blew apart like a TNT pinata:

  • The separatist goons, led by Lucien Bouchard, all ran off to start the Bloc Quebecois, saying they would stay in Parliament to fight for Quebec for one term or until Quebec separated, whichever came first. They’re now into their third full term because you have to serve six years to get your pension.
  • PC conservatives from the West, furious that Mulroney had sold the party out to separatists, started defecting to the Reform Party (now Aliance) and all the PC voters went with them.

The PC party in 1993 suffered what may very well be the worst electoral defeat in the history of Western democracy, going from being the governing party to holding exactly two (2) seats in the House of Commons.

The rise of the Alliance and BQ, meanwhile, gives Canada two parties capable of winning 30-70 seats in one region but unable to win enough seats to win an election. The PCs have never really recovered. The NDP has lost some of the Western protest vote to the Alliance, and has been very poorly led, so its fortunes have fallen as well.

So while Canada has 5 parties, only one, the Liberals, has the strength to win an election; two are regional in nature and could never win an election, and two have been run into the ground by their own stupidity.


I don’t know, I’d tend to at least want to compare them with the ROCers who think Quebec runs everything :wink:


Federal republic, not unlike the US. 16 states, responsible for justice, police, education, gambling, and one federal government responsible for defense, economy, foreign affairs and the like.
Every state has its own constitution (usually monocameral parliament elected by the people and electing the state’s governer, the Minister President). Each state government may appoint deputies to the Bundesrat (Federla council) in Berlin, the house representing the state interests.
The people elects every four years the federal parliament, the Bundestag. Currently, there are five parties there:

  • SPD: Similar to Britain’s Labour. Traditionally, a leftish workers’ party, but under the current Chancellor Schröder it has swifted to the centre a lot.
  • CDU/CSU: A conservative Christian party. Its candidate, Edmund Stoiber, is Schröder’s big adversary in the September 22 elections.
  • FDP: Liberals, standing for free economy.
  • Greens: Ecologists, pacifists, anti-nuclear movement.
  • PDS: The leftest of the big parties, particularly strong in the eastern parts. Socialist and pacifist.

The current government is an SPD/Green coalition.
The Bundestag elects (and fires) the Chancellor, who serves as head of government. He is, however, not head of state; this is someone known as the Bundespräsident, but he only has ceremonial functions. He is elected for a five-year term by an assemply consisting of the Bundestag members and the same number of deputies from the state governments.

Parliamentary work is done by the Bundestag, but in importnat issues the Bundesrat has a veto right.

Heres my government:

The Soviet union consists of 15 Union Republics, Each Republic is named after a majority nationality living in that particular area.
These Republics are divided into 126 territories and regions, and these again into 3,096 districts, and 1,999 towns and 3,700 urban settlements. The highest legislative body is the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. It consists of two chambers with equal powers, elected for a term of 4 years. The soviet of nationalities is elected on the basis of 1 deputy for every 300,000 of the population.

It’s a shame this all had to go.:mad:

And this is Manchester, Siberia, right?

You might be of help inthis thread, Komsomol.