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Presidential power and beyond The United States and France.

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Presentation on theme: "Presidential power and beyond The United States and France."— Presentation transcript:

1 Presidential power and beyond The United States and France

2 Research papers: Due Friday, November 30 th _____________ Final exam Saturday, Dec. 8 th 9:00-11:00 AA1043

3 The United States: A Presidential-Congressional System

4 Principal features: A federal and presidential system with pronounced separation of powers among three branches of government

5 US Constitution provides for: A President elected via the electoral college (4 year term) A Congress consisting of –House of Representatives, elected for 2 year terms (435 Congressmen) –Senate: 2 Senators per state, elected for 6 year terms (staggered – 1/3 of the Senate elected every 2 years) Supreme Court –appointed by president but nominations subject to Senate approval

6 The President Responsibilities: –Commander-in-chief of the armed forces –Heads the executive branch of government: must see to the faithful execution of the laws of the United States Has power, subject to the ‘advise and consent’ of the Senate, to appoint: –Members of the cabinet –Justices of the Supreme Court –Ambassadors –Certain other offices

7 The Congress A bi-cameral legislature consisting of the –House of Representatives (lower house, 435 members) –Senate (upper house, 100 members) –Both share the legislative power – to become law, a bill must pass both through both Houses of Congress in identical form

8 The Supreme Court Nine justices –Appointed by President for ‘good behaviour’ (life) –Senate must approve nominations –Congress can decide size & jurisdiction of the Court Acts only on matters brought to it, –but the Court decides which cases it will hear Has power of judicial review: –Court can declare laws passed by states or the Congress unconstitutional (Marbury v. Madison, 1803)

9 Checks and balances: Reflecting fears of abuse of power: Senate must approve nominations to court, cabinet and other appointments President can veto laws passed by Congress. Congress can override a presidential veto by a 2/3 majority Supreme Court can declare legislation unconstitutional

10 The American Party System A two party system with two broadly based parties, the Democrats and the Republicans Parties encompass divergent interests: –Democrats: party of the moderate (but not very far) left. Prefer more government intervention –Republicans: party of the right Prefer less government intervention Divided between economic and social conservatives (religious right) Party discipline in Congress is weak –Congressman often vote their districts

11 Presidential power Actual power and influence varies: –Some presidents are stronger and more effective than others Commander-in-chief, but lacks automatic support in Congress: –Not unusual for the other party to control one or both houses of Congress –Even when his or her party controls Congress no guarantee that president’s program will pass (e.g Clinton’s health insurance bill) Power: depends on ability to persuade –(Richard Neustadt, Presidential Power)

12 Divided control: : Democratic Presidents, Republican majorities in Congress only in 1946 and Eisenhower (R) as President; Democrats control Congress : Kennedy and Johnson (D), Democratic Congress : Nixon and Ford R), as President (Dem. Congress) : Carter (D) + Democratic Congress Reagan (R) + Dem. Congress Bush Sr. (R) + Dem. Congress Clinton (D) plus increasingly Republican Congress 2000-present - Bush Jr. (R) , Divided Congress Republican Congress Divided Congress 2006-present Democratic Congress

13 Governing To govern, a president must be able to Get as much support as possible from his party Build coalitions Bargain Persuade –Senators and Congressmen –The public

14 Successes & failures Some presidents more successful than others Sometimes persuade Congress by persuading the public Insiders v. outsiders Foreign policy as an outlet If so, in what respects?

15 Presidents vs. Prime Ministers? Is the situation in which presidents of the United States find themselves different from those of a British Prime Minister or a German Chancellor? If so, in what respects? Which of the three heads of government (or state) is more powerful vis á vis other actors in their respective systems?

16 Explaining differences: Political Parties and the ways in which they connect legislatures and the executive In both Britain and Germany, cohesive and disciplined parties provide fairly automatic support for the political executive Even so, both must make sure their parties stay together

17 How Prime Ministers maintain support The consensus strategy: enlist ministers representing different wings of the party. –Harold Wilson ( , ) –James Callaghan ( ) –Margaret Thatcher (from ) –John Major ( ) Damn the torpedoes/shoot from the hip: –Margaret Thatcher (from ) –Tony Blair (1997-present)

18 The whip system and how it operates Whip’s Office –Chief Whip –Deputy Whip –Assistant Whips Serve as two way channel of communication: –Convey frontbench opinions to the back benches –Convey backbench views to the leadership Make sure that the votes are there when they are needed

19 The process of discipline: A matter of conveying information and persuading Punishment: removal of the whip or ostracism from the caucus – rarely applied Dealing with dissent: –Canada: minimum or zero tolerance –UK: both parties tolerate some rebellion Conservatives: –deep divisions over EU –Travails of Ian Duncan Smith (IDS) New Labour: Iraq


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