Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Britain, Europe, and the Presidential Election

There is no constitutional mechanism for a federal referendum in the United States.  The federal government has only limited authority over elections, and that limited authority does not give the federal government the ability to put legislation to a national referendum.  That is not the case in other countries.  In recent years, the United Kingdom has put major constitutional issues to a referendum.  This Thursday will see the latest of these referendums in which the issue is whether the United Kingdom will stay in the European Union.

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Strategic Voting-U.S. and Abroad

In most of the United States, the general election (at every level) is mostly a two-party race.  In 2014, there were thirty-four races in which the winning candidate got less than 50%.  In only two of these races did the winning candidate get beneath 45%.  In only 11 of these races did the loser get below 45%.    In ten of these races, it is probable that the minor part candidates may have altered the winner of the race.  Given the rareness of such races, strategic voting is normally not viewed as  a significant issue in the general election in the U.S., but it is a significant issue in the primary and in elections in other countries.

Starting with other countries, the two countries with the most similar election system to the U.S. are the United Kingdom and Canada.  Both use a first-past-the-post system for parliamentary elections, just like most states use for Congressional and Senate elections.  The difference is that — unlike the U.S. — Canada and the U.K. have, at least, three major parties and some parties with regional strength.

In the last U.K. election, the Conservatives won 330 seats out of 650 seats to get a majority.  Out of the 650 seats, the winning candidate got less than 45% in 68 seats, and failed to get a majority in 97 seats.  The Conservatives won 40 of those seats.

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Foreign Elections: The United Kingdom

Despite what some Republicans say (and apparently think), there are limits to U.S. power.  While the U.S. has the largest economy and the largest military, the U.S. simply does not have enough troops to intervene in every crisis in the world.  Similarly, there are numerous ways for countries to minimize the effect of U.S. economic sanctions.  Any significant international effort by the U.S. requires help from our allies.  However, for the most part, our allies are democracies which means that how their voters feel about U.S. proposals matters more than what the U.S. wants.  What happens in the elections in our allies matter.    This upcoming week (on May 7), voters in the United Kingdom will be voting in parliamentary elections.  As things stand with one week to go, we may be looking at another close race that could handicap the ability of the United Kingdom to commit to any major U.S. initiative.

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