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Political Parties, Elections, & Interest Groups

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1 Political Parties, Elections, & Interest Groups
British Politics Political Parties, Elections, & Interest Groups

2 British Political Parties
LABOUR PARTY Party emerged in response to new voter demands created by the Industrial Revolution Traditionally the working class supports this party Tony Blair & Gordon Brown were both Labour Party Prime Ministers Largest Party on the “Left” Gordon Brown is the party’s current leader Won the National Elections in 1997, 2001, & 2005 Strong political and financial support from Labor Unions

3 British Political Parties
CONSERVATIVES PARTY Generally supports a market-controlled economy, privatization of industry, less involvement with the European Union, and fewer social welfare programs. Largest Party of the “Right”, a.k.a “Tories” Traditionally the middle class supports this party Margaret Thatcher & John Major were both Conservative Party Prime Ministers Party characterized by noblesse oblige; viewed as ‘elitist’ David Cameron is the current party leader Dominant party in Britain between WWII & 1997 Traditional/One-Nation Wing – wants the country ruled by the elites and generally supports British membership in the European Union Thatcherite Wing – wants to roll back government controls, move to a full free market economy, and are “Euroskeptics”

4 British Political Parties
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS PARTY Party formed as an alliance between the Liberals & Social Democrats Originally known as the “Whigs” Serves as a strong party in the ‘middle’ of the political spectrum Nick Clegg is the current party leader Has campaigned for proportional representations and a US Style Bill of Rights In the 1980s they received as much as 26% of the vote, but only earned 3.5% of the seats in Parliament Have taken strong stands on the environment, health and education



The only national officials that British voters select are Members of Parliament (MP) Elections must be held every 5 years – but the Prime Minister (PM) can call them earlier Technically the Monarchy dissolved Parliament – but it is first requested by the Prime Minister (important power of the PM) The Prime Minister is not elected as Prime Minister – rather as a Member of Parliament

Parliamentary elections are based on a Single-Member District Plurality Voting System (SMDP) Each electoral district average 65,000 voters Candidate with the most votes, wins the seat “First-past-the post” “Winner-take-all” British parties select a candidate to run for each district Candidates do not have to live in the districts they represent Party leaders run in “safe districts” where their party usually wins

9 British Regional Governments
Through devolution, regional governments and their unique election styles have emerged. Ex.) Good Friday Agreement (1998) – Britain agreed to give Northern Ireland a regional government Regional governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales have proportional representation National Assembly for Wales Scottish Parliament Northern Ireland Assembly

Britain has well-established interest groups who are autonomous from the government that compete to influence policy Interest Group Pluralism Ex.) Trade Union Congress (TUC) Britain also has Quangos (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organizations) – policy advisory boards appointed by the government. Neo-corporatism – where interest groups take the lead and dominate government policy creation. Network Rail owns rail infrastructure – including railway tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, level crossings, and stations. Britain’s Trade Union Congress


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