Presidential Election

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Who do you intend to vote for in the 2004 Presidential Election?

Poll ended at Tue Nov 23, 2004 3:13 am

George W. Bush (Republican)
15
47%
John F. Kerry (Democrat)
14
44%
Ralph Nader (Independant)
2
6%
Michael Badnarik (Libertarian)
1
3%
 
Total votes: 32

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klewlis
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Post by klewlis » Thu Oct 07, 2004 12:45 pm

Dacicus wrote:
They have members, who pay membership fees annually, who have the exclusive right to choose MPs and the party leader or whatever.
Doesn't that mean that the people with the money get to basically run the country?
Not sure about Britain, but here in Canada the membership fees are nominal... $25 or something. So anyone who really wanted to could do it. And you don't have to be a party member in order to vote in general elections, so of course any citizen can still vote even if they have no money. Non-members just don't get any say in what happens *inside* the party.

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Post by Mongoose42 » Thu Oct 07, 2004 5:36 pm

I am not as pessimistic as I might sound.
It is one thing to read about the checks and balances, but I was trying to show a view of a contentious political system that I support in its entirety. The entire political system is geared to avoiding a tyranny by the opposite actions of powerful forces.
Instead of founding the government on the good qualities of men and then creating laws to supress the bad qualities, the US system is based on putting the good qualities to a common goal (building a civilization) and the bad qualities (like greed) to work in maintaining balance. This system leads to a seemingly disfunctional political system that is to bound up in confusion to accomplish anything, but with a little practise it is managable and has sustained the US for several centuries.
Thus, because of its foundation the governing dynamics of the US political system is perpetualy foriegn to Europeans and the rest of the world.
This is also why Americans are thought of as loud, over confidant cowboys. In truth we have just been trained to survive by continually fighting for what we want while accepting compromise for the greater good.

Personally will I support the US government no matter which candidate gets elected.
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Post by Kopio » Thu Oct 07, 2004 6:39 pm

classicalclarinet wrote:In fact, Matt, do you not live in a Democratic-leaning state?
Yes as a matter of fact I do live in a democrat leaning state.....although, the only part of the state that is "Democrat" is the Seattle area....the rest of the state is pretty well Redneck conservative....but the such a large part of the population live in the Seattle area, it sets off the rest of the state. It tends to be a "West-Side" vs. "East-Side" situation!

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Post by Democritus » Thu Oct 07, 2004 7:42 pm

Mongoose42 wrote:Thus, because of its foundation the governing dynamics of the US political system is perpetualy foriegn to Europeans and the rest of the world.
Well, I wouldn't go this far. Europeans and other people outside the U.S. are aware of our system of checks and balances. At least, those people who bother to study government at all will be aware of the U.S. system. We have to be careful about making generalizations about who is aware of what. There are ignorant people and learned people in every country.

My impression (and indeed this is another unfair generalization) is that many Americans are unaware of the constitutions of other democratic countries. Sometimes these constitutions differ from ours precisely because other nations have learned from our experience and are trying to improve on our system. So we would do well to study them.

Checks and balances may have been breaking news in 1787, but it is not news in 2004.
Mongoose42 wrote:This is also why Americans are thought of as loud, over confidant cowboys. In truth we have just been trained to survive by continually fighting for what we want while accepting compromise for the greater good.
If we have a bad reputation, we cannot blame our system of checks and balances.

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Post by Emma_85 » Fri Oct 08, 2004 2:58 pm

Dacicus wrote:Doesn't that mean that the people with the money get to basically run the country?
I don't know what it's like in the UK, but here for some parties it depends on your income how much you pay. Some organisations want 1% of your income, others have fees and if you are like out of a job or a student or otherwise not earning a lot you only pay very little. Some parties don't really care how much you earn, but those are like the parties people with little money would not want to join if you know what I mean :wink: . It's just like being part of a union.
You can also go into the race as an independent or as the member of a small party without the backing of a party with much funds, some even win and get into the Germany Bundestag (Communists always used to win one of the East-Berlin constituencies, but the Greens won it last year - now don't say 'I thought they had proportional representation in Germany, it's far more complicated than that :P ).
I think that fits under the "freedom of choice" idea. People can choose whatever they want to support. They can even easily switch parties if they want to.
Here you can get dissenters too and people switching party (if the other party welcomes you of course), but basically if you vote for a person of a certain party you know exactly what policies he will be sticking too (those of the party) and that he will only dissent very rarely, so you don't have to worry that you're voting in some guy who might then just change his mind and not vote for the bill the labour party is going to pass and you want passed, but against it. Labour backbenchers did dissent though over the war in Iraq and it only got through parliament with the votes of the opposition party, the conservatives, hence all the problems in the labour party now. It's not that the head of a party has all that much say, if the party doesn't like him they just get rid of him, the parties have to be democratic here, if not they can be banned.
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Post by Emma_85 » Fri Oct 08, 2004 3:19 pm

Mongoose42 wrote:Personally will I support the US government no matter which candidate gets elected.
you mean you don't care who is elected really, or that you will support the party the majority chooses, because you think they must know best? :? I'm afraid it's not the foundation of American politics that is alien to me as a European voter, but statements such as these, which would be better explained.
and has sustained the US for several centuries.
So because it was a good system a hundred years ago, it's a good one today? Hmm... I think sometimes countries start to get stuck when they are so mired in tradition that they can't move, I thought it was part of the American freedom that you aren't bound down by what people used to think was great (Civilisation has survived for many thousands of years even though it was often ruled by monarchs or the like, the Roman empire existed quite long and was quite successful :wink: ). Just saying I don't quite see the logic in that sentence, plus today is not yesterday. As Democritus put it, 'Checks and balances may have been breaking news in 1787, but it is not news in 2004. ' The system was hardly devised for today and is lacking in many respects - sure America will survive with it, but maybe, just maybe, it could be doing much better with a more modern constitution.
I'm voting for Bush. For a president that has had to deal with a lot lot more than the average president of the modern era, he's hand;ed it quite well.
Right now America is not really doing so 'wonderfully well', but is in an economic crisis. Of course that is the sort of news you'll probably only hear abroad. When Germany entered its severe economic crisis no one in the German media dared use the word 'depression' as if not saying it would make it not be true. While American newspapers were saying that Germany had entered a depression, the Germans were still listening to how there had been a slight dip in the expected economic growth. So, just to warn you, they've started to report here that the US economy is only seemingly on its way to recovery, the analysts are all predicting a further drop in the already terrifyingly low price of the dollar and company executives in the US are all selling their company shares at alarming rates. Is Bush really doing much good for the people and economy of the US? Never mind what he's doing for the world...
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Post by annis » Fri Oct 08, 2004 3:56 pm

Emma_85 wrote:
Mongoose42 wrote:Personally will I support the US government no matter which candidate gets elected.
you mean you don't care who is elected really, or that you will support the party the majority chooses, because you think they must know best?
I suspect the subtext for this, Emma, is that he's not going to take up arms, or move somewhere else, if the election doesn't go his way. There's been hysteria aplenty about this election from both sides, many claiming the U.S. will cease to exist as a viable nation if their candidate doesn't win. The U.S. government is more than just the president, powerful though that office is.
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τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;

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Post by Emma_85 » Fri Oct 08, 2004 5:47 pm

Oh, now I understand :lol: . I didn't quite understand 'support' then, sounded a bit different to 'I won't move out of the country' :wink: .

There's been hysteria aplenty about this election from both sides, many claiming the U.S. will cease to exist as a viable nation if their candidate doesn't win. The U.S. government is more than just the president, powerful though that office is.
I suppose that is a big difference... here people stay calm and just make puppets and make songs about the Chancellor drinking beer or something like that before an election, it's more sort of fun, not really any hysteria. And if the opposing party wins you just silently curse the stupid guys who didn't vote the same party you did, but that's all. But they say that of the Americans over here, that they are just a bit too emotional.
Of course every party wins in an election, they never loose, even if they've lost 15 % the conservatives will speak of a victory: we did get some seats, and the labour party lost votes too, so yeah, we won! Hurray!
:?
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Post by Mongoose42 » Fri Oct 08, 2004 5:59 pm

Emma_85 wrote:
There's been hysteria aplenty about this election from both sides, many claiming the U.S. will cease to exist as a viable nation if their candidate doesn't win. The U.S. government is more than just the president, powerful though that office is.
I suppose that is a big difference... here people stay calm and just make puppets and make songs about the Chancellor drinking beer or something like that before an election, it's more sort of fun, not really any hysteria. And if the opposing party wins you just silently curse the stupid guys who didn't vote the same party you did, but that's all. But they say that of the Americans over here, that they are just a bit too emotional.
Of course every party wins in an election, they never loose, even if they've lost 15 % the conservatives will speak of a victory: we did get some seats, and the labour party lost votes too, so yeah, we won! Hurray!
:?
This is what I have been trying to say.
There is a difference that is often misunderstood.
The US government is not perfect (probably far from it) but it has worked so far and will probably last for a little while longer.

I apologize to anyone that took offense at my over-generalization.
I am the first to admit that most Americans (and myself) have never looked in depth into the governments of Europe.

If I had my vote in the real election I would support Bush, but because I miss the age limit by 2 days, all of my arguements are merely rhetorical. :(
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Post by Emma_85 » Fri Oct 08, 2004 6:19 pm

If I had my vote in the real election I would support Bush, but because I miss the age limit by 2 days, all of my arguements are merely rhetorical. :(


Well, just like all the Europeans talking discussing the US elections, when they can’t vote themselves.
It’s good that you’re interested in Politics and informing yourself beforehand. Because you’ve discussed everything this time you’ll be able to analyse the next election campaign better. You’ll know more than most first time voters when you go to cast your vote in the next election.
I remember when I first went to vote, I was like: :shock: I have to cast 60 something votes?!? Took me ages to fill out the form, no one told me at school I had to vote for so many things. I know better now, but now’s a bit too late ;).
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Post by PeterD » Fri Oct 08, 2004 7:58 pm

Mongoose42 wrote:If I had my vote in the real election I would support Bush, but because I miss the age limit by 2 days, all of my arguements are merely rhetorical. :(
Young man, it's a pity that you are too young to cast a vote. However, there is another way of expressing yourself, a more hands-on way than voting (that's for pussies). Have you ever thought about joining the US military? Think about it. What better way to support Bush and his neocons' wars than to partake in the action yourself! No need to watch FoxNews to get the latest spin on casualty figures -- you' ll be now part of the evening news!

Hey, isn't that cool? Talk about living the fast life, eh?

If you're game and you want to put your money where your mouth is, you'll find below links to the various US military websites. If you have wised up and think it's wrong to haphazardly sent young, poor American personnel to fight the wars of the rich and powerful, then I praise you, and wish you a happy, productive life; otherwise, here's the list. ~PeterD

p.s. The navy is the way to go -- why march when you can ride? :)

p.p.s I do apologize for not including the US Coast Guard.
Fanatical ranting is not just fine because it's eloquent. What if I ranted for the extermination of a people in an eloquent manner, would that make it fine? Rather, ranting, be it fanatical or otherwise, is fine if what is said is true and just. ---PeterD, in reply to IreneY and Annis

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Post by Democritus » Fri Oct 08, 2004 9:21 pm

Emma_85 wrote:...before an election, it's more sort of fun, not really any hysteria. And if the opposing party wins you just silently curse the stupid guys who didn't vote the same party you did, but that's all.
It used to be that way here too.

But lately things here have become a little... um... strange. :shock:

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Post by klewlis » Sat Oct 09, 2004 3:42 pm

Emma_85 wrote:I remember when I first went to vote, I was like: :shock: I have to cast 60 something votes?!? Took me ages to fill out the form, no one told me at school I had to vote for so many things. I know better now, but now’s a bit too late ;).
wow, how could a person possibly be informed about all of them? i have a hard enough time deciding on one.

we just vote for our local MP and then the party with the most seats wins...

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Post by Emma_85 » Sat Oct 09, 2004 5:45 pm

The German system is much fairer, it's proportional representation plus you vote for the candidates - not only for the general election, but for local elections too. I'm not allowed to vote in the German general election, only local and European election. European election was easy, just one vote for one party. Electing the mayor even easier - only one candidate, so you say yes or no (I said no), then the local election... with over 60 votes to cast for various party members for various councils in the state of RLP :? , of course I had no idea who supported what idea. So luckily those guys all have to stick to a party manifesto, that way I could just look for the people of the party I wanted to support and cast my votes for them. Often you had the option of just giving all your votes to one party, but I worked out that that would mean my votes would count less actually, and I'd be better off just giving my votes to the candidates - very confusing :P , that's the price you pay for a fair system. It's one no one really understands. You can either have a really fair system, which no one understands, or a simple system, which is not quite as fair, but everyone can understand.
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Post by klewlis » Sat Oct 09, 2004 8:57 pm

I didn't realize that all the local guys were included in that.

Here we have distinct separation between municipal, provincial, and federal government. Each is independent and has its own jurisdiction. The elections for each is separate and on its own timetable. So this past june we voted federal, in a few weeks edmonton will vote municipal, and in the spring alberta will vote provincial. it just breaks it up more that way, i guess. :P

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Post by Emma_85 » Sat Oct 09, 2004 9:39 pm

They often try to make sure that as many elections as possible are held on one day, probably because then more people turn up to vote.
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Post by benissimus » Sun Oct 10, 2004 1:40 am

flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae

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Post by Timothy » Sun Oct 10, 2004 2:13 am

Emma_85 wrote:The German system is much fairer, it's proportional representation plus you vote for the candidates - not only for the general election, but for local elections too.
Excuse my ignorance here. Proportional to what? Sex? Age? Ethnicity? Income? Political Affiliation? (btw, who determines what the proportion is? Ruling party?) I have to assume political affiliation. If so, then is there ever any doubt whatsoever about the election outcome? If party A has 32% of the population then they get 32% of the legislative body seats regardless of what the vote is. So then the ballot would have to be on which party member fills the pre-allocated seat. The important question then becomes how the legislative body votes, by party or by individual. Theoretically, it would seem to tend towards one party rule since the incentive for voters would be to be in the majority party, the minority being powerless. However, I’m sure there are other aspects that tend to balance the power. It seems to me that a shift in party membership could require new elections.
Emma_85 wrote:Electing the mayor even easier - only one candidate.
What happens if everybody says “no”? Or the vote is tied? Or the candidate is incapacitated? Single candidate ballots always strike me as wrong somehow. Pick any candidate you want so long as it’s Bob. Yeah! Bob wins!
Emma_85 wrote:So luckily those guys all have to stick to a party manifesto…
Who made the manifesto? What happens if they break ranks? Is that possible?
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Post by classicalclarinet » Sun Oct 10, 2004 2:27 am

Good point; (referring to benissimus's post) but is that all?

First, the Bush Admin's cause for war was WMD. When it as becoming clear that Iraq had no WMD, it was Saddam's trranny. Now, (almost) everyone clear that there really WAS no WMD, the cause has shiftied into saddam giving the KNOWLEDGE to terrorists. The story has changed like a malignant virus.

Both sides are trying to manipulate facts as hard as they can. The only question is: Bush has dug a pit for America and Kerry would dig it deeper yet; what is better?

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proportional representation

Post by Jefferson Cicero » Sun Oct 10, 2004 9:33 am

The German concept of proportional representation seems to be geared toward guaranteeing that small political parties can have a voice in the parliament, thus it attempts to avoid the shortcoming of the American system, whereby the Senate and House are under the iron grip control of two big parties, who may fight each other, but who will not allow a third party to gain influence. Thus, we have one reason why the American system is failing.

Washington and other founders warned against 'factions', in the government, but provided no solution for preventing their rise in American political life. There seems to have been no practical way to prevent it. The German system tries to incorporate the 'factions' and make them work together more than the American system does. Whether this actually works, I cant say. It is a very interesting concept, though.

There are certain things about the Dutch and Swiss systems that are really good and could be added to the American system, but I cant explain what these things are because it would take too long and be too boring. Napoleon actually came up with a couple of good ideas that have worked well in France. One is that council of advisors, what is it called? I cant remember right now. :!: I'm drawing a memory blank here. It's a good idea anyway.

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Post by Eureka » Sun Oct 10, 2004 10:47 am

Jefferson Cicero, I think America could benifit from instant runoff polling. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting It would allow the formation of strong minor parties (or, dare I say it, more major parties).

We use a proportional system in our senate simmilar to the German system. What is it the Dutch and Swiss do?
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Post by Emma_85 » Sun Oct 10, 2004 1:35 pm

Excuse my ignorance here. Proportional to what? Sex? Age? Ethnicity? Income? Political Affiliation? (btw, who determines what the proportion is? Ruling party?) I have to assume political affiliation. If so, then is there ever any doubt whatsoever about the election outcome? If party A has 32% of the population then they get 32% of the legislative body seats regardless of what the vote is. So then the ballot would have to be on which party member fills the pre-allocated seat. The important question then becomes how the legislative body votes, by party or by individual. Theoretically, it would seem to tend towards one party rule since the incentive for voters would be to be in the majority party, the minority being powerless. However, I’m sure there are other aspects that tend to balance the power. It seems to me that a shift in party membership could require new elections.
Ignorance excused.
Are you ready for a lesson in proportional representation? ;-) (still can’t believe you aren’t forced to learn these sort of things at school in America).
Uh, not sure I understand your questions, but I’ll try to explain the system as best as I can. If the general elections were tomorrow, then (according to the latest statistics on the web) people in Germany would vote thus:

CDU/CSU (conservatives + the Bavarian conservatives)
41%
SPD (labour party)
29%
Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (a group of the former revolutionaries of the round tables and the Greens)
12%
FDP (liberals)
7%
PDS (communist, former East-German dictatorship)
6%
other parties
5%

Germany has a mix between proportional representation democracy and majority democracy, with the emphasis on proportional representation.
There is a clause that if your party receives less than 5% of the votes they will not get any seats at all, that means the Neo-Nazi parties for example, which fall under other, will probably not get a seat. I say they will probably not get a seat, because even though they have less then 5% there is still one other way to get the votes for that party to count and this is if you win three constituency directly. If they won three seats directly, then they could get in and they’d have about 17 seats. Because they won’t win the majority in three constituencies though, the 3% of German votes cast for them count nothing at all. The Communists used to get in with only 2 or 3% though, as they used to win the East-Berlin constituencies, (except for in the last election so right now the communist party isn't represented in the Bundestag).
Germany is split up into 299 constituencies, that’s exactly half the number of seats in the Bundestag (sort of like the German version of Parliament). Every one has 2 votes. The first vote is cast for the local representative of the party you support - the one with the most votes wins and can go straight to the Bundestag. So here you often vote for a representative of one of the big parties, CDU or SPD, but depending on where you live the ‘big’ party might also be the Bavarian National Party, the Greens or the Communists. You cast your second vote for the party you support, that’s the proportional representational part. Before the election each party has had party-conferences, where they've written up their manifesto and has made a list with party members on it. This list is very important, those at the top will probably get a seat in the Bundestag, whereas those further down will not.
It could happen that a party doesn’t win any seats directly (the FDP nearly never has the majority in a constituency for example), but has more than 5%. In that case they may get 47 seats in the Bundestag, but will have no directly elected candidates to fill them. So then you look at the party list and who the first 47 people on that list the party drew up before the election are and they get the seats. Only people who belong the FDP had any say in how high up on the list their candidates are to be placed. If you voted for the SPD though and they get 180 seats, but actually won 190 constituencies directly (people like their local candidates, but voted Green or some other smaller party with their second vote for example), then you just add 10 seats to the Bundestag afterwards and then you have 608 seats instead of the normal 598 (they just count as extra seats, so the CDU still gets around 42% of the 598 seats). Of course you can’t have half a seat, so if the CDU should be getting 251.16 seats, they’ll get 251 seats. If they only won 240 constituencies, then the other 11 people are derived from the CDU’s list of people. That happened when Helmut Kohl lost the election in his constituency in Ludwigshafen, but because the CDU had placed him top of the list and was awarded more seats through proportional representation than through winning constituencies, he was able to get a seat in the Bundestag and could continue to be Chancellor of Germany.

Now as you can see no party would have the absolute majority if elections were held tomorrow. But everyone knew beforehand that there would not be an absolute majority, so parties have already been talking about forming coalitions. The SPD and CDU only form a coalition in times of crisis and when they do it’s always heavily criticised as being undemocratic, as then the opposition is too weak, and every democracy needs a strong opposition to keep an eye on the government. In recent years the FDP has formed coalitions with both the SPD and CDU and has therefore nearly always had a say in government policies (that’s how you make sure minorities also get a say). But now the Greens are there too and at the moment they form a coalition with the SPD, and the SPD and Greens have a majority together (that’s why Fischer, head of the Greens, is Germany’s foreign minister, it’s a good position for the smaller coalition partner to have.) So looking at the results above you’d have CDU with 41% and SPD/Greens with 41%. So the CDU will go in for a coalition with the FDP and so have a 48%, which will probably be a majority (those 5% 'other' are ignored so actually you have to add one for two percent to the other parties), but it’s a very close shave, they might not make it. Then the SPD/Greens will also start talking to the FDP to get it to join forces with them (even though the FDP and Greens can’t stand each other much), or they might try to get the PDS on board and so on.
If in the end you don’t have any majority coalition then it gets messy. I think there is a vote in the Bundestag on who will then be Chancellor and the President must consent and stuff about new elections soon. I don't know exactly what would happen, because up until now they've always managed to form coalitions. But basically if you no longer hold the majority because some party members changed party half way through, then things are messy (that scenario has happened in the past). In 1969 there was a weak coalition of SPD and FDP with only 12 seats more in the Bundestag, Willy Brandt was the Chancellor. If everyone hates the Chancellor and the representatives in the Bundestag all feel it's time for a change, you can vote to depose the old Chancellor and vote for a new one at the same time (but in actually fact you can also try and vote to overthrow the government if everyone likes the Chancellor :roll: ). Some people in the SPD and FDP did not agree with Willy Brandt’s politics when it came to East Germany and so they changed sides and went over to the CDU under the protection of Article 38 of the German constitution, which guarantees that they are allowed to do what they want even if it goes against party politics. So then the SPD was still the official government and Willy Brandt was Chancellor, but the CDU had the majority (the voters were furious, as they had voted for those candidates thinking they would represent the policies of the SPD and not those of the CDU and there were allegations that some people had been bribed or offered to be placed very high up on the party list of the CDU in the next election). There were strikes and everything. But the CDU called for this ‘Misstrauensvotum’ (that's what the petition to overthrow the government is called) as it now had the majority of the votes – or so it thought! Some people in the CDU were probably scared and voted not to overthrow the current government and so the SPD and FDP continued to rule without a majority. That was impossible of course, they couldn’t get any bills or laws passed, not even the budget. So Willy Brandt called for a ‘Misstrauensvotum’ himself to overthrow his own government and so make new elections possible. Normally you can just call for new elections, but only if the opposition agrees too – and they did not want to have to face an election after having made the people of Germany so cross (should have thought about that before, but conservatives are so bloody stupid it’s incredible some times). Brandt did not get the majority for an overthrow, so he went to the President, who with the use of some paragraph was allowed to call out new elections anyway. So, yes, it gets messy when some people change party.
Schröder used this ‘Misstrauensvotum’ to put pressure on the Greens a few years ago. He threatened to overthrough the government and so forced the Greens to vote for a law they did not want to pass, as otherwise there would have been new elections, which the conservatives would probably have won - and then the Greens would again have no say in government, as the conservatives won't form a coalition with the Greens.

Well that’s basically it, hope you enjoyed your little lesson in politics :-P, I’m surprised that I can remember it all from my sociology/civics lessons 3 years ago, but they really do make sure that we know about politics here. I could give you a similar lesson on your own government system of the US if you wanted me too ;-).
Oh, nearly forgot, they also have a Bundesrat, next to the Bundestag, where the prime ministers or their representatives meet up and look at certain laws and decide on them. You have elections of local parliaments in a similar way and they have prime ministers (some guy from the party with the majority in the local parliament)... but it would be going into too much detail to talk about the difference between the Bundestag and the Bundesrat here, it’s sort of like House of Congress and house of Representatives, but well, only sort of ;-).
What happens if everybody says “no”? Or the vote is tied? Or the candidate is incapacitated? Single candidate ballots always strike me as wrong somehow. Pick any candidate you want so long as it’s Bob. Yeah! Bob wins!
Don’t ask me why the conservatives didn’t get a grip on themselves and put a candidate forward, just because they lost the last 100 elections doesn’t mean they’d loose this one – hell I would have voted for anyone, just to get the current major out of office. Anyway, I don’t know what would have happened if it had been a tie, though with so many votes being cast the event would be pretty unlikely. If he lost then there would have had to been new elections at a later date I think. So we continue to live under the oppression of a mayor who probably went and terrorised the opposing party into not putting forth a candidate ;-).

Who made the manifesto? What happens if they break ranks? Is that possible?
The people in the party make the manifesto, that is you gotta sign up and say: ‘Hi, I like the liberal party, because I’m rich, now let me tell you what I think we should be doing....’
They have party conferences and stuff like that. So in Speyer there’s a group of liberals who’ll then elect to send forth Herrn Müller to the party conference of Rheinland-Pfalz (the state Speyer is in). Then they’ll decide on state policies there and also elect people to go off and discuss national policies somewhere else. Then those people go off to come conference in Berlin maybe and start to write out a manifesto of everything they think the party’s policies should be. If Herr Müller wins the election and is in the Bundestag, but doesn’t want to follow a policy the party heads worked out in Berlin, he can of course vote against, for example, a tax-cut. His fellow party members will be cross with him, and if this was a really, really, really important tax-cut they may vote to through him out of the party, but he has committed no criminal act, nothing really happens normally, only that his party might not like put him on their list, in which case as a Liberal candidate he then has no chance of getting a seat in the Bundestag in the next election. So you are free to do as you wish and can vote against something the party has said it would support of vote in favour of a law the party said it would try to stop, but must be aware that the party will not be happy with you and if it catches the attention of the media, you voters too. But if you’re a member of the liberal FDP you won’t want to vote against tax cuts, if you think taxes should be really high you’ll go to another party instead, no liberal thinks tax cuts aren’t good.
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Post by Timothy » Sun Oct 10, 2004 7:30 pm

Thank you.

I see now. I probably did learn this at some point but that would have been decades ago. I don’t believe I’ve kept up with it since then. ;)

As you say, since no party has a majority then a coalition would be a practical necessity in order to get anything done without excessive lobbying. Not necessarily as the nature of politics is to lobby in order to get the largest majority possible. Still, a majority coalition would be desirable.

It’s that uncertainty of the election that would bother me. It would really annoy me if there had to be another election because there was no majority and no coalition could be formed. I take it when that occurs the ire of the people is roused to such an extent that the politicians find a way to compromise. ;) This is very much like what happened when government here shut down a few years ago. It didn’t take long to reach a compromise and it’s not likely to happen again because of voter reaction.
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Swiss and Dutch political systems

Post by Jefferson Cicero » Mon Oct 11, 2004 9:59 am

Eureka, tanks for the link. I'd heard of runoff elections in Europe before, but I just assumed they were like the American ones. This concept is quite fascinating, and yes, I think it would likely be a good idea for America.

It's been so long since I studied the Swiss or Dutch systems that I'm very rusty on these two subjects. The Dutch institution that I was referring to is the Chamber of Audit, an office that goes back to the days when the Holy Roman Empire had Audit Chancellors (I think that was the name for them), who would ride around and audit the budgets of the local imperial domains that were under the direct control of the Emperer. Whether they would also audit free cities or feudal domains, such as dukedoms or baronies, that weren't under the Emperor's direct control, I dont recall. If I'm not mistaken, the Chambre of Audit in the modern Netherlands has some power to reign in the expenses of the government, power that the American General Accounting Office does not have at all. Just how it works in the Netherlands is complicated and I'm so rusty on the subject that I wouldn't want to go into details.

As for the Swiss, they have so much power in the individual cantons that the people can control many things on a local level. In Switzerland, naturalisation of foreign immigrants is under the control of the cantons, not the federal government, and whether an individual immigrant is granted citizenship or not is decided by a panel made up of the citizens of the village or neighbourhood where the immigrant resides. In other words, it's the people who have to live with the immigrant, and who know what kind of person he or she really is, who decide the matter. I think that's how it should be.

There are so many good things about the Swiss system that I cant go into too much detail, especially since I haven't studied it for more than ten years. For one thing, the people can have any law that has been passed by the federal govrernment annulled by popular referendum. I think the cantonal governments may also be able to to this if enough of them agree to do so, but I'm not sure whether this is true or not. Annullment by popular referendum provides a marvelous check on the power of the federal government, something that has been lacking in America for far too long. In America, it was up to the states to check the power of the federal government, but this responsibility was sorely tested during the South Carolina nullificatuion crisis during Andrew Jackson's administration, and then the Northern victory in 1865, which left the federal government as the only judge of the limits of it's own power and reduced the once-sovereign states to the status of provinces, stripped the states of any real ability to enact this right in any effective way. That's why General Lee said after the war that because of the federal government's victory, the United States was bound to become, as he put it, 'despotic at home and agressive abroad'. It certainly has.

The Swiss constitution is largely based on the American system as it existed during the early 19th century, when it was still a decentralised system and the states were considered the primary sovereignties. This concept was a good match for the Swiss tradition of confederalism and local sovereignty that went back to the 13th century. The Swiss stuck with this concept and have done quite well, but America sadly did not, and instead went on to become The Evil Empire. :cry:

That French institution I was referring to is the chamber of advisors whose advice to the head of state is kept secret during their lifetime. This sounds rather conspiratorial, but it is not, and it works quite well. I still cant remember the name, or really explain the history or functions of this institution since I don't know that much about it. Maybe someone else can explain it better. It was one of the best ideas Napoleon ever came up with.

Two older systems that people generally ignore today are the old constitutional system of Poland, as well as the system that existed in the Holy Roman Empire. These systems may have had shortcomings, but they also had some good institutions that we could learn from. Likewise with the old Byzantine Empire, which could be described as an imperial commonwealth. We're getting archaic now, so I'll stop here, especially since I'm not too well versed on these three systems or their institutions.

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Post by Eureka » Mon Oct 11, 2004 11:31 am

I strongly disagree with the Swiss system regarding immigration. After all, most people who vote on whether they can stay have never met them, and simply base their decision on the person’s race.
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Post by annis » Mon Oct 11, 2004 12:12 pm

We're comparing constitutions...

Aristotle would be so proud!

:D
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τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;

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Post by Emma_85 » Mon Oct 11, 2004 6:19 pm

Not necessarily as the nature of politics is to lobby in order to get the largest majority possible. Still, a majority coalition would be desirable.
No lobbying is required for a majority - you have a party of coalition majority, if you had to rely on convincing members of opposition parties to vote with the government, the opposition party would soon put a stop to that and throw those people out of their party. The opposition just out of tradition alone always votes against anything the government is in favour of :wink: . There is a bit of lobbying going on behind to the scenes to make sure everyone in government's own party votes for their laws, but to get someone from the opposition party to vote for that law would be a futile fight in most cases and not worth it. There might be some chances to lobby on minor issues, but only on very minor ones, where no one will notice if you don't follow party policy. Parties are powerful, that's why I said America doesn't really have parties.
I don't think there has ever been a case after WW2 where no coalition was formed. It's not impossible of course, imagine the Neo Nazis with 25% and the Communists with 26%. Two extreme groups which you couldn't form a coaltion with and then you'd be stuck, no majority coalition could be formed. As I said something like this has not happened since before WW2, where the above stituation happened and the two extremist parties stopped a majority from forming. I'm guessing that they changed their constitution to avoid a forth Reich. No idea what they would do now really, then that situation gave the Reichspresident the power of a dictator to 'prevent a national crisis'. New elections aren't really an option - just telling the people to vote differently, because they voted stupidly is not something you can do. The sensible thing to add to the constitution would be that in such a case you just hold referendums in the population instead. But as you can see - no talk of lobbying, it's just not something that you do or that would work with a proper party system. No Communist will vote for anything that doesn't call out the New Socialist Republic of Germany just like no Liberal will not vote for anything that doesn't sound like a taxcut and is not official party policy.

I must agree with Eureka on that, and there are other issues where the Swiss system has failed. There are many things that are great about the Swiss system and most countries would do well to adopt a similar system, but only a similar system, not the Swiss one. I think you'd need some laws of some sort to stop prejudice and to stop the discrimination of others.
Well for one there are certain disadvantages to holding referendums. Some things should be decided in high courts for example. Swiss women were the last in Europe to get to vote in elections cause the men just kept voting against women being able to vote (finally a court did step in and let them vote, but that was in the 1971 in most of Switzerland and 1990 :!: in the Appenzell-Innerhoden Kanton where the men are very conservative).
You can imagine a similar situation when it comes to change nowadays. Some laws that are 'traditional' might be hard to get rid of even though they discriminate others, or they don't even have to be traditional, just some laws that lead to the discrimination of a group of citizens, a minority for example. You'd need a law that makes sure that high courts check all laws to make sure that there is as little discrimination as possible and should check them again and again as the situation changes.
Social issues are also hard thing - can you trust people not to be prejudiced? I believe that people should be allowed to decide many things, they do know what is right and wrong normally, but the situation can arise in which a political group may try to use voters' fears to manipulate them. I think all laws should have to go through extensive checks by the courts first and be approved before a referendum is held on them. Now where do the high court judges come from... argh, well I don't think they should be elected by the population, that would make them politicians and not impersonal and businesslike when it comes to checking the laws. The judges too would need to be governed by laws and only be allowed to reject a law under certain circumstances....
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Post by Timothy » Tue Oct 12, 2004 12:59 am

I think you mistook me here. While I think that some lobbying is required to get a coalition majority, I was speaking more of the lobbying required within such a coalition in order to resolve the differing priorities of the coalition member parties.

In a single party majority, once you have the majority, the opposition vote is meaningless as it cannot carry. It can never carry until the government changes. It may as well not be counted at all. Every vote on every issue is carried by the government majority. Every vote is predetermined; every issue framed by the party platform/manifesto. Debate would be meaningless. Why should they even bother take a vote? Simply announce they are implementing item #4 of the manifesto. The only meaningful vote would be in the next election. This is a significant difference with the U.S. system. Party members change votes based upon local bias. Just because one party holds the majority does not mean that every vote goes their way. It can mean this but often doesn’t. The majority counts the votes all the time, every time. Even today, with one party holding a majority in both houses, the votes are scrupulously counted.

However, in a coalition, you would, per force, have conflicting manifestos (otherwise the parties differ in name only). This means that while the coalition has a majority vote, the issues brought forth are the result of lobbying of some kind. Once you admit that possibility, the greater majority is more desirable than the lesser majority as it indicates a stronger coalition that is more likely to remain in power. The “give and take” of lobbying would result in, say, a minor loss on one issue of less importance to a constituency but a gain on another of greater importance to them. This is much like the U.S. system.

As to parties, this is one of those cases where I think others may see two parties and Americans see many more. The labels of Republican and Democrat are general. Each State has a different brand of a party. Each county differs from that. Cities differ. You would be surprised how different the Northern Democrat is from the Southern. The Democratic Party may be against the NRA, but the Democrats in Alabama want their guns. The Republicans in Utah may not support Medicare but the Republicans in Florida want those prescription drug benefits. I think it’s a question of scale. How close are the same parties of different countries of the EU to each other? Regionally, (And we have a lot of regions) the parties are pretty cohesive. Not as much nationally.

The incentive to form a coalition is that failure means having to return back to the voters and is a practical guarantee that they will vote differently to resolve the matter. It's not a case of they voted poorly; but that the politicians acted poorly. And referendums on every issue are a practical impossibility here. Again, it’s a matter of scale. Having to vote on even narrow issues means dealing with hundreds of millions of ballots, registrations, pubic information, multiple time zones, ballot counting, etc. etc. It’s a huge cost. If we had to do it nationally on every important issue the cost would begin to affect the national budget and still we’d never get much done. The sheer size of the country practically demands that parties compromise amongst and between themselves.
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Post by Emma_85 » Wed Oct 13, 2004 11:10 am

Ah, ok, now I understand what you meant. Just wanted to add that for some laws you need a 2/3 majority. Such laws are ones that change the constitution and in recent times many such changes had to be made and the 2/3 majority has often been needed, so you do need the opposition some times.
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Post by classicalclarinet » Thu Oct 14, 2004 2:56 am

So what Does happen when parties form coalitions? Do they modify their manifestos after to conform to the alliance?

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Post by rimon-jad » Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:36 am

I think you should better read GWBush´s biography first. Here´s my favourite:
http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/presi ... ge-w-bush/

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Post by benissimus » Thu Oct 14, 2004 8:43 am

but can Bush do this?
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Post by Emma_85 » Thu Oct 14, 2004 4:00 pm

classicalclarinet wrote:So what Does happen when parties form coalitions? Do they modify their manifestos after to conform to the alliance?
No, the parties that form the coalition don't change their manifestos, but during the talks the smaller party will make many demands, that they get certain ministries for example (like the Greens have the foreign ministry and of course the ministries of environment and family and so on). The smaller party will force the bigger one to agree with them on certain issues. That's why for example you can't imagine a coalition between the Greens and FDP, as their goals are totally different and exactly the opposite on many issues. The SPD and the Greens can work out a compromise though. These things are debated before the election so you often know the one of the things the Greens will demand of the SPD is that the price of petrol should rise. The SPD never promised to keep the price of petrol low so they could agree, although grudgingly, to this demand.
Of course some times you do have the problem that the parties’ manifestos clash on an issue. War for example. The SPD had great trouble getting Bündnis 90/Die Grünen to agree to aid the Americans in the wars against terror. It’s in their manifesto that they will not start a war, or go to war unless attacked. In the end the Greens being the smaller party had to comply with the wishes of the larger party (as I said before in that long post, Schröder threatened to overthrow his own government if they did not support him. Normally the Greens would have given in more easily or demand a compromise, but war was too important an issue). The Greens drew lots and those who drew the short straws had to vote for the war and those lucky ones who didn’t could vote against it – but they made sure that there were enough short straws that their would be a majority.
As you can see tensions were high and the risks great, which might help explain Germany’s current distain for America, as after having gone through all this, and Germany just didn’t want to help America attack Iraq, Bush and his administration started calling Germany a backwards nation and generally not being very friendly towards Germany. ‘So that’s what you get when you help them? They get all cross when they start making stupid demands for making more war and Germany won’t support them with troops....’ Bush has ruined the German-American relationship (just to get back on-topic).
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Post by Turpissimus » Thu Oct 14, 2004 10:35 pm

This article - quite surprising.

George W. Bush

I found this quote especially surprising:
And in the debates, Bush tried his best to come off sounding smart and serious. He made references to complicated economic policies. Difficult as it may be to believe now, many voters in the 1978 campaign were turned off by George W. Bush's overt intelligence. They figured him for some kind of brainiac
Apparently his Democratic opponent used to make fun of the young egghead from New England:
"In 1961, when Kent Hance graduated from Dimmitt High School in the 19th congressional district, his opponent George W. Bush was attending Andover Academy in Massachusetts. In 1965, when Kent Hance graduated from Texas Tech, his opponent was at Yale University. And while Kent Hance graduated from University of Texas Law School, his opponent -- get this, folks -- was attending Harvard."
The writer of the article believes that George's difficulty in stringing a sentence together may be part of a deliberately cultivated act. GWB is not so much trying to act stupid, but he knows a great number of his audience are intimidated by brains and think that they aren't that important if you're running a country. So he doesn't bother trying to appear too intellingent - he knows it doesn't do him much good.
Last edited by Turpissimus on Fri Oct 15, 2004 9:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by classicalclarinet » Fri Oct 15, 2004 12:16 am

The Greens drew lots and those who drew the short straws had to vote for the war and those lucky ones who didn’t could vote against it – but they made sure that there were enough short straws that their would be a majority.
Don't wanna get too off-topic here, but doesn't this sound a bit fishy?

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Post by Episcopus » Fri Oct 15, 2004 3:32 pm

Regarding the Swiss immigration system which sounds amusingly harsh, do you think that Switzerland is the 'safest country on earth' due to less foreigners?
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Post by Turpissimus » Fri Oct 15, 2004 6:19 pm

Regarding the Swiss immigration system which sounds amusingly harsh, do you think that Switzerland is the 'safest country on earth' due to less foreigners?
18.9% of the population of Switzerland are foreign born. In the UK 3.4%, in Canada 16.1%.

link

The information is rather old, but I have recently read in the Economist that Switzerland does indeed have a high proportion of foreigners.

I suggest that you make your trolling more fact-based in future.
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Post by PeterD » Fri Oct 15, 2004 7:37 pm

Turpissimus wrote:The writer of the article believes that George's difficulty in stringing a sentence together may be part of a deliberately cultivated act. GWB is not so much trying to act stupid, but he knows a great number of his audience are intimidated by brains and think that they aren't that important if you're running a country. So he doesn't bother trying to appear too intellingent - he knows it doesn't do him much good.
Hi Turpissimus,

No, it's not an act. GWB is the real mccoy: obtuse. He never earned his way into Harvard.

Here's an interview GWB's Harvard professor gave with CNN last month regarding GWB's brain (or lack thereof), and what GWB said to him concerning the Vietnam war.

http://edition.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS ... professor/

~PeterD
Fanatical ranting is not just fine because it's eloquent. What if I ranted for the extermination of a people in an eloquent manner, would that make it fine? Rather, ranting, be it fanatical or otherwise, is fine if what is said is true and just. ---PeterD, in reply to IreneY and Annis

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Post by Turpissimus » Fri Oct 15, 2004 9:20 pm

I believe that there is a Quicktime video of a former governor of Texas admitting as much. He claimed on camera that he had helped GWB out of national service....

Dammit, I really should start bookmarking those sites.
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Post by Emma_85 » Sun Oct 17, 2004 10:02 am

classicalclarinet wrote:Don't wanna get too off-topic here, but doesn't this sound a bit fishy?
Well, as I said the whole thing was messy. That was not really the most 'fishy' bit about the whole business, rather it was Schröder's threat to overthrow the government. The Greens didn't really see that they had much of a choice, that is if they had voted against him the government would have been overthrown and they would probably have not been included in the next government and the new one would have voted in favour of helping the Americans. On the other hand though I think the Greens wouldn't have lost their face if they had just stood their like martyrs and voted against the war, I mean you vote for a party that says 'no war' and then in the end they let themselves be bullied into sanctioning one. The fact that the Greens are still so popular is because afterwards they 'forced' Schröder not to go to war with Iraq. Then things were reversed, but Schröder didn't need as much convincing not to go to war as the Greens had needed to go to war before - Schröder's party is actually against wars too :roll: .
But yeah, everything was very messy and people are never happy to find out that once again it seems their country is not being ruled by them, but by the American interests (they were pretty pissed off when they found out that Brandt was actually probably still a British and American spy after WW2. At the time they thought he had only been a spy before and during the war, but some newly released documents seem to indicate that he did not stop working for the Americans after the end of the war. That information came out about the same time as this war crisis did, where the larger part of the government felt it had to aid America in a war, even though the other half of the government was totally against starting any wars. At that time people were still feeing very angry though because of the WTC attacks and so there weren't that many anti-war protest. But when the first bodies of German soldiers started to arrive home and when Bush started talking about a new war against Iraq people were furious that American interests were apparently ruling Germany and demanded that Germany did not go to war with Iraq, especially as they didn't think Iraq really was the biggest threat, they would have given the US their special forces to search the lands for Al-Qaida cells, but not to lead another war.
And so the Greens just had to suggest it really and Schröder said: 'Great! I can win the election, because my opponent wants to go to war with Iraq!' And that's why Schröder won the next election, because he wouldn't have otherwise, not after the Afghanistan war fiasco and the poor state of the economy. He was prediced to loose by miles before Bush came along with the Iraq war thing, then everyone was cautious about electing Schröder's opponent, Stoiber of the Bavarian National Party. No one want's to elect someone who just talks his way out of answering any questions about the war and who's a Bavarian.
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