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Congress & parliament

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Congress & parliament

  1. 1. Congress & Parliament• Both bicameral• Both dominated by twoparties• Both have different routesto membership• Male/female ratio issimilar• Both use FPTP for elections
  2. 2. Legislation• Many more bills presentedto Congress thanParliament (10,000compared to a 60 or sogovernment bills)• Government legislation ismuch more likely toapproved in UK (90%+ toapprox 4%)• Most backbench bills in UKfail, US have slightly betterchance
  3. 3. Party discipline• A PM must be leader of largest party inCommons and usually commands a majority.If his party loses seats he may lose office.• A President may be a Democrat whilst theRepublican dominate Congress (Clinton 94-00)• So party discipline is stronger in UK: no MPwants to be responsible for party losingoffice• Congressmen have to please much larger‘selectorates’ than MPs, and incumbents canbe challenged within their own party, andH.O.R. Elections are every two years – somore pressure to ‘bring home the bacon’and ‘please the folks back home’• No real sanctions for voting against party inCongress, so whips have ‘less sting’
  4. 4. Ideology• Traditionally Parliament has beenmore ideologically coherent thanCongress• Over past 20 years there are signsthat Congress is becoming moreideological – Newt Gingrich’s‘Contract With America’ in 1990s seta conservative agenda forRepublicans• Parliament still more likely to votealong party lines: and party can losea vote of no confidence whichtriggers a general election (Callaghan‘79)
  5. 5. Other differences• More powerful Select andStanding Committees in Congress(1980 UK reforms took a leadfrom U.S.)• In UK matters concerning taxingand spending are determined bythe Commons. Most powers areretrospective. In U.S. Thepresident must get his budgetthrough Congress which may bedominated by another party

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