Cabinet without a parliament.

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,574
Las Vegas, NV USA
It seems with modern political parties enforcing block voting, we have cabinet government already. In the Westminster model (as it actually operates) the Cabinet submits a bill to the House for a vote as a formality. Only a fractured coalition or a backbencher revolt will cause the government to fall. More and more, stable government seems to be preferred over unstable coalitions and rebellious MPs. After all, there are elections every four or five years. Isn't that good enough?

I would have elections by party where the proposed cabinet members and policy is well known to the electorate. The winning cabinet governs, the shadow (losing) cabinet stands as the loyal opposition which can skewer the government every week on TV. There are no MPs outside of the cabinet. There are no electoral districts. There would be popular initiative and referenda requiring 5% of the the last vote to initiate and a majority referendum vote to make or overturn a law. Three fifths would be required to turn a government out before a regular election. Any laws so made would have to undergo judicial review before taking effect.
 
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AwP

Aug 2017
74
USA
Actually, I would go the opposite route and remove any sort of officialness to party memberships. While private organizations could still function similarly to a party, there would be no governmentally recognized status or power related to party affiliations. This would give what are now "third party" candidates relatively even footing, this would also make it easier for compromises and voting out of synch with your block, and this would let people vote for the individual more than voting for the letter after their name. Parties (all parties) are one of the biggest reasons for everything wrong about "parliamentary" govt.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,629
Dispargum
"No MPs outside of the cabinet." How many elected officials would there be? More elected officials = more democracy. Fewer elected officials = more tyrany. How do people get the attention of their elected representatives if there are too few representatives who are too busy with their cabinet responsibilities to pay attention? I'm talking about the grandmother constituent whose pension check hasn't arrived. How does this lady get the attention of a cabinet member?

"There are no electoral districts." I see the appeal of no gerrymandering but fear this might sever the bond between voter and representative. Politicians get into the cabinet by pleasing the party, not by pleasing the voters.

"Three fifths would be required to turn a government out before a regular election" So there would be two elections? And if 58% of the voters said 'Turn them out!' it's not enough to turn out the existing government?
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,629
Dispargum
Actually, I would go the opposite route and remove any sort of officialness to party memberships. While private organizations could still function similarly to a party, there would be no governmentally recognized status or power related to party affiliations. This would give what are now "third party" candidates relatively even footing, this would also make it easier for compromises and voting out of synch with your block, and this would let people vote for the individual more than voting for the letter after their name. Parties (all parties) are one of the biggest reasons for everything wrong about "parliamentary" govt.
The US founders tried that and it didn't work. Politicians naturally group together into factions. The principle of majority rule requires cooperation. I agree, today there is too much party loyalty. If representatives are all going to vote their party's line, then we don't need 435 representatives, 35 could do the same job. I think the solution is to weaken party loyalty rather than to do away with parties. I think we're stuck with parties in one form or another. The current system at least brings everything out into the open.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,574
Las Vegas, NV USA
"No MPs outside of the cabinet." How many elected officials would there be? More elected officials = more democracy. Fewer elected officials = more tyrany. How do people get the attention of their elected representatives if there are too few representatives who are too busy with their cabinet responsibilities to pay attention? I'm talking about the grandmother constituent whose pension check hasn't arrived. How does this lady get the attention of a cabinet member?
As I said, with cabinet government already existing, the level of democracy should be the same. Since political parties come with democracy, we need to get them to work for the people. Parties are organized on two or three tiers with a local organizations. The party in power would have the obligation of dealing with voters concerns. If they don't act, the shadow government will be happy to take up their cause.

"Three fifths would be required to turn a government out before a regular election" So there would be two elections? And if 58% of the voters said 'Turn them out!' it's not enough to turn out the existing government?
With four or five year terms, a supermajority is better for turning out a government before the next regular election IMO. This gives the party in power a better chance to succeed. A simple majority would be more destabilizing IMO. I would prefer the new government would have the same chance to succeed, so they would get the standard term.


The US Congress has repeatedly failed to act on important national issues. Legislation is stalled with amendments to benefit local interests and big campaign donors. It's popularity has been usually below 20% since the 1970s. I had a previous thread in Speculative History where the the current US system was replaced with a cabinet system.

I would also allow more than two parties and have run off elections (if needed) to get to two parties, one governing and the other in opposition. Other parties might join the opposition.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,629
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"As I said, with cabinet government already existing, the level of democracy should be the same."

I disagree. With fewer elected representatives those representatives would probably become less mindful of people's concerns.

How does one get into the cabinet? What previous jobs must one hold before becoming qualified for the cabinet? I fear cabinet members will not have a background that teaches them to be mindful of voters' concerns. If I understand you correctly, you wish to entirely do away with a national legislature like Congress or Parliament. If a cabinet member was never a back-bencher, how does he or she learn to respect the institutions and traditions of democracy?

It is far more likely that a small group, like a cabinet, will become corrupt, than a large group like Congress or Parliament. Congress acts as a check and balance on executive power. You wish to remove this check and balance.

"Parties are organized on two or three tiers with a local organizations."

True, but I dislike this feature. Each tier becomes an insulating layer between the voters and those officials who can actually get things done. It would be better to get rid of the intervening layers and let the voters access the policy makers directly.

"With four or five year terms, a supermajority is better for turning out a government before the next regular election IMO to give the new government a chance to succeed. A simple majority would be more destabilizing IMO. I would prefer the new government would have the same chance to succeed, so they would get the standard term."

See my comment below about super majorities. With a standard fixed term of four or five years, the party in power would have their chance to enact their agenda. They wouldn't need the protection of a super majority in the middle of a fixed term. If you take away the standard fixed term so that elections can happen whenever a party falls out of favor then a super majority can protect against too frequent elections for frivolous reasons.

"The US Congress has repeatedly failed to act on important national issues. Legislation is stalled with amendments to benefit local interests and big campaign donors. It's popularity has been usually below 20% since the 1970s. I had a previous thread in Speculative History where the the current US system was replaced with a cabinet system."

There are several reasons for this political gridlock in the US. One of them is the requirement for a super majority. If legislation could pass with just a simple majority, more legislation would get through Congress. I agree there is too much pork barrel spending by Congress, but I hope there's a less drastic solution than getting rid of Congress.

"I would also allow more than two parties and have run off elections (if needed) to get to two parties, one governing and the other in opposition. Other parties might join the opposition."

The current system already allows more than two parties. The problem is that in the US third parties have never been viable for long. Their positions get absorbed by one of the two main parties. Or one of the bigger parties dies, and the third party becomes the second party as happened with the Whigs and the Republicans.
 
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stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,574
Las Vegas, NV USA
"As I said, with cabinet government already existing, the level of democracy should be the same."

I disagree. With fewer elected representatives those representatives would probably become less mindful of people's concerns.
In executive positions , most political scientists prefer a concentration of responsibility in a single elected official rather than a dispersion with more elected officials. As for legislative positions, New Hampshire has a state legislature with over 500 members while Nebraska has a unicameral legislature with 48 members. Both work in their own way but I don't think Nebraskans suffer from a lack of democracy. You already said 35 could do the work of 435 representatives. A typical cabinet with its deputy ministers probably comes close to that.

How does one get into the cabinet? What previous jobs must one hold before becoming qualified for the cabinet? I fear cabinet members will not have a background that teaches them to be mindful of voters' concerns. If I understand you correctly, you wish to entirely do away with a national legislature like Congress or Parliament. If a cabinet member was never a back-bencher, how does he or she learn to respect the institutions and traditions of democracy?
The US Congress is a school for political wheeling and dealing for less than lofty ideals. Many members of the House have recently cancelled public events in their home districts because they don't want face their wrath. In Canada MPs can influence policy in caucuses, but must vote the party line when it is decided. With cabinet government this can happen within the parties with direct citizen involvement. I'm not sure what training backbenchers get beyond their activity in party politics.

This thread has been moved. In this forum there is a thread regarding government by "experts". While I don't agree with its elitist and anti-democratic views, I think people running the major executive departments should be knowledgeable in the field. Candidates could come from the civil service, universities or advisory groups already working for cabinets. While civil servants should not be "political" they do vote and should be able serve in cabinet government when no longer in the civil service. In Canada and the US good experience is gained in state or provincial government.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,629
Dispargum
Please don't quote me out of context. The full quote was

"today there is too much party loyalty. If representatives are all going to vote their party's line, then we don't need 435 representatives, 35 could do the same job. I think the solution is to weaken party loyalty..."

I would prefer 435 independent thinkers who know how and when to cooperate over 35 automatons.

No argument about the desire to concentrate authority in an executive position. The problem is your proposed cabinet is both executive and legislative in nature.

New Hampshire does seem over represented, but when you consider how few people live in Nebraska, they're not under represented with only 48 in a unicameral legislature. It works out to 41,000 / state legislator. Kansas has 19,000 per and Iowa has 30,000 per while Texas has 186,000 per and California has 465,000 per.

You are suggesting that a cabinet of say 20? people plus an equal sized shadow or opposition cabinet represent 300 million at 7 million voters per official. We already have a problem with people feeling that their voice is not heard and that's at only 600,000 per representative.


Here's one I haven't brought up before. As I understand your system, it does not require each individual in the cabinet to stand for election. Voters only get to vote for a party. Suppose someone in the cabinet gets caught in a scandal but because he or she is well connected in the party, they are not ejected from their position. How do the voters get rid of this person if they must accept or reject the whole cabinet? What if the rest of the cabinet is doing a good job and the voters don't want to get rid of them?
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,949
Australia
This kind of system is called an Oligarchy. Over time it reduces democracy as vested interests entrench their positions.