ACAfan
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Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 1:50 pm

USA being an exception, nearly ALL countries have a head of state and a separate head of government.

How does your country operate specifically?

In your country, which one is more powerful? Example: Iran's president has consderable power. India's president has none.

Wouldn't it be more effective to let the PM be head of state?

[Edited 2005-03-31 05:55:16]
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N228UA
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 2:20 pm

The Prime Minister is the head of state here...though many would say the real leader is GW Bush and Koizumi is his lapdog.  Wink

I'll probably get flamed for this but I can't see a reason why the PM shouldn't be the head of state if he/she is democratically elected. It would certainly be cheaper for the country involved.
 
QANTASforever
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 2:32 pm

It depends on what you mean by powerful. The Queen has a huge amount of constitutional power - in fact, we are talking borderline dictatorship if all her powers were fully used. However the Prime Minister holds considerable power with the public, setting the national agenda - and in Australia's case, over the entire parliament which now serves as a rubber stamp. Then there is the third wheel - the Governor General who has all the powers of the Queen.

It would be nice to have someone democratically elected to sit on top of the whole thing, but rome wasn't built in a day.

QFF
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jasepl
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 2:51 pm

Quoting QANTASFOREVER (Reply 2):
The Queen has a huge amount of constitutional power - in fact, we are talking borderline dictatorship if all her powers were fully used.

 yawn 

Quoting QANTASFOREVER (Reply 2):
Then there is the third wheel - the Governor General who has all the powers of the Queen.

What utter drivel! The GG represents the Sovereign and isn't a third wheel in any way. Unless, of course, one conveniently sees it that way!  Wink

I think it's better to keep the positions of head of state and head of government separate and unequal.
 
N228UA
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 3:03 pm

Quoting Jasepl (Reply 3):
What utter drivel! The GG represents the Sovereign and isn't a third wheel in any way. Unless, of course, one conveniently sees it that way!

Can you say Gough Whitlam?
 
QANTASforever
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 3:17 pm

Quoting Jasepl (Reply 3):
What utter drivel! The GG represents the Sovereign and isn't a third wheel in any way. Unless, of course, one conveniently sees it that way!

Um the reason why the Governor General didn't tell Whitlam in 75 that he was planning to sack him was because the GG feared the PM going directly to the Queen and firing him first. Call that representative? Situations like that turn into a "who can get to the Queen first" race to the finish line. Still don't think the GG is a third wheel?

QFF
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Ozair
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 3:23 pm

What complicates the process is the fact the GG is chosen by the PM, is the Queen really going to deny his request?
 
QANTASforever
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 4:09 pm

Quoting Ozair (Reply 6):
What complicates the process is the fact the GG is chosen by the PM, is the Queen really going to deny his request?

Could happen - especially if there is outrage in the Australian community at the Prime Ministers choice. The Queen could well refuse....

QFF
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Banco
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 5:01 pm

Quoting QANTASforever (Reply 7):
Could happen - especially if there is outrage in the Australian community at the Prime Ministers choice. The Queen could well refuse....

Unlikely. The Queen couldn't consitutionally take public opinion into account. She'd go with the PM's request and i would be up to the Australian people to punish the PM at the polling station if they didn't like it.

Quoting ACAfan (Thread starter):
In your country, which one is more powerful? Example: Iran's president has consderable power. India's president has none.

Wouldn't it be more effective to let the PM be head of state?

The Prime Minister in Britain is infinitely more powerful. The Queen has virtually no power except . The Queen's ultimate role (apart from opening buildings) is to be the ultimate bulwark against dictatorship. Giving that role to the PM would be utterly catastrophic.
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N228UA
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 5:03 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 8):
The Queen has virtually no power except.

Isn't she the leader of the Bad Fashion Association also  Smile
 
Banco
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 5:14 pm

Quoting N228UA (Reply 9):
Isn't she the leader of the Bad Fashion Association also

I'm not sure 80 year old women are ever that trendy, are they? I mean, the thought of her in Kylie style gold hotpants....  Wow!
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Ozair
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 5:23 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 10):
I mean, the thought of her in Kylie style gold hotpants....

Now that is an image I didn't need to have.  bomb 
 
N228UA
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 5:23 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 10):
I'm not sure 80 year old women are ever that trendy, are they?

If you like purple hair, they are!
 
Banco
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 5:30 pm

Quoting N228UA (Reply 12):
If you like purple hair, they are!

Now, why do they do that? What is it about women that they reach a certain age and suddenly think "I know, purple will look really good!"? When does that happen?
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ly7e7
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 5:31 pm

Quoting N228UA (Reply 1):
The Prime Minister is the head of state here

I thought it's the emperor...

Accoriding to CIA world factbook:
chief of state: Emperor AKIHITO (since 7 January 1989)
head of government: Prime Minister Junichiro KOIZUMI (since 26 April 2001)
2 things are endless: ignorance and space
 
N228UA
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 5:38 pm

Quoting LY7E7 (Reply 14):
I thought it's the emperor...

Accoriding to CIA world factbook:
chief of state: Emperor AKIHITO (since 7 January 1989)
head of government: Prime Minister Junichiro KOIZUMI (since 26 April 2001)

After WWII, the Emperor was stripped of all power. Unlike the Queen of England, he has no control whatsoever over the government here.

Koizumi is the main man here
 
Banco
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 5:44 pm

Quoting N228UA (Reply 15):
Unlike the Queen of England, he has no control whatsoever over the government here.

Er no. the Queen has no control over the government either. I'm with LY7E7, Akihito is Head of State, Koizumi is Head of Government. It's a constitutional monarchy. State visits occur when Akihito visits, not Koizumi. That's a Head of Government visit.
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N228UA
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 6:36 pm

Fair call.

In Australia, the GG has the power to sack the PM. Here, that same rules don't apply.

So, in essence, Koizumi is the leader of Japan. God help us all  Sad
 
QANTASforever
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 7:51 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 8):
Unlikely. The Queen couldn't consitutionally take public opinion into account.

lol um, where exactly in the constitution does it say that the Queen can't take public opinion into account when making her decisions? It was my understanding that she would rule on a decision as her conscience dictated - and that she could be influenced by all manner of entities, including by the public.

Quoting Banco (Reply 8):
She'd go with the PM's request and i would be up to the Australian people to punish the PM at the polling station if they didn't like it.

That is the most realistic eventuation. It is well within the realms of possibility that the Queen would refuse the Prime Minister's recommendation. It almost happened a few years ago when we were oh so very close to having a certain Senior Royal as our Vice-Regal representative.....

Quoting Banco (Reply 8):
Giving that role to the PM would be utterly catastrophic.

lol So a Royal lineage automatically precludes a person from becoming a tyrant? I think it's unfair to say that if someone doesn't grow up in a palace with a title then they are more likely to turn into an Adolph Hitler. It is because of the good grace of Parliamentarians AND the Queen that the UK is not a dictatorship. I think you'll find that history is dotted with tyrranical despots with a royal or imperial heritage.

QFF
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Banco
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 8:10 pm

Quoting QANTASforever (Reply 18):
lol um, where exactly in the constitution does it say that the Queen can't take public opinion into account when making her decisions? It was my understanding that she would rule on a decision as her conscience dictated - and that she could be influenced by all manner of entities, including by the public

Ours or yours? I presume you mean yours.

It wouldn't. But we've been through this before. The Queen herself wouldn't make any decision, she would only act through her ministers or in your case the Governor-General. Now, if you want to say that the GG might act that way, fair enough. But the Queen wouldn't.

Quoting QANTASforever (Reply 18):
lol So a Royal lineage automatically precludes a person from becoming a tyrant? I think it's unfair to say that if someone doesn't grow up in a palace with a title then they are more likely to turn into an Adolph Hitler. It is because of the good grace of Parliamentarians AND the Queen that the UK is not a dictatorship. I think you'll find that history is dotted with tyrranical despots with a royal or imperial heritage.

You're not a stupid person, so don't say stupid things. It has nothing to do with the Queen per se it's to do with having a separation between Head of Government and Head of State under the UK system. I know a hell of a lot more about the UK system than you do, just as you know more about the Australian one than I. Don't put words in my mouth.
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gkirk
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 8:14 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 10):
I mean, the thought of her in Kylie style gold hotpants.... Wow!

Thanks for that Banco...  Yeah sure  old   old   censored 
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QANTASforever
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 8:39 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 19):
Now, if you want to say that the GG might act that way, fair enough. But the Queen wouldn't.

Yeah but you must admit that while she wouldn't, she could.

Quoting Banco (Reply 19):
You're not a stupid person, so don't say stupid things. It has nothing to do with the Queen per se it's to do with having a separation between Head of Government and Head of State under the UK system.

Banco - flattery will get you everywhere. I know the point you were making, however dealing with an extraordinary hypothetical situation (where my thoughts seem to reside these days) - the good grace and acceptance of the status quo by the monarch, coupled with a belief that she should not and cannot use her powers - is what keeps the UK from sucumbing to a dictatorship at the hands of a maniacal P.M.
If the Queen was completely off her head - things could turn very very nasty, and she would soon lose her reputation as a figure of stability.
You see what I mean?

QFF
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airbusA346
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 9:00 pm

Over here, its Bush 'n' Blair  highfive   couple   kiss 


LOL

Tom.
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Banco
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 9:07 pm

Quoting QANTASforever (Reply 21):
If the Queen was completely off her head - things could turn very very nasty, and she would soon lose her reputation as a figure of stability.
You see what I mean?

But that's precisely the point! There is always the risk of someone going off their head and doing daft things, that's why having the two separate is a bulwark! That's precisely why having the Head of Government and Head of State in one person would be stupid under the British system, because then there would be no failsafe if the PM went nuts.

NOW do you see what I'm getting at? If the Queen went berserk you have the PM/Parliament. If the PM went berserk you have the Queen. It's not about the rights and wrongs of the two, it's about them being separate entities.
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QANTASforever
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 9:09 pm

Actually I do not understand what the PM or Parliament could do if the Queen went bonkers.

QFF
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Banco
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 9:20 pm

Quoting QANTASforever (Reply 24):
Actually I do not understand what the PM or Parliament could do if the Queen went bonkers.

You mean genuinely?

Well, the first thing to grasp is that the Queen is not Sovereign. She's a sovereign, but she is not sovereign herself. Parliament is. She cannot (and I mean CANNOT) do a single thing except on the advice of her ministers, so she couldn't rule by decree or anything like that, because everything, and I mean everything, must be passed by Parliament. She can't bypass it, it isn't possible.

So, what would happen if she refused the Royal Assent? Parliament would depose her, simple as that. All it would take is a vote, and the next incumbent could take over.

This is actually where the weakness (and it's as ever, hypothetical, and rather extreme) of the British system lies. If Parliament was cowed to the point where a Prime Minister was seeking plenipotentiary power, then the monarch is the only one who can then stop him, by refusing the Royal Assent. Parliament could then vote to remove the monarch, and the next one comes along. This could carry on until they reach the point that someone does Parliament's bidding. Ultimately, Parliament will have its way. The point being, it would be utter and total chaos. How peculiarly British, the defence against autocracy is to have a system where prevention is through a complete and total breakdown of governance.  Wink
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QANTASforever
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Thu Mar 31, 2005 9:42 pm

lol - Witty of the old founding fathers of modern British government wasn't it!

Thank you for the insight.

One question though - could the Queen simply not have one of her ministers introduce whatever legislation she wished - using the threat of removing that ministers tenure in a portfolio or the prospect of identifying that MP as Prime Minister as an incentive?

QFF
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Banco
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RE: Why Can't The P.M. Be Head Of State?

Fri Apr 01, 2005 12:41 am

Quoting QANTASforever (Reply 26):
One question though - could the Queen simply not have one of her ministers introduce whatever legislation she wished - using the threat of removing that ministers tenure in a portfolio or the prospect of identifying that MP as Prime Minister as an incentive?

No, because it has to pass both Houses of Parliament. The ministers can't even do what they want, except through the format of a statutory instrument, unless Parliament agrees, but something like that would have to go forward as primary legislation. Don't forget, the Queen's Speech is not her speech at all, but the government's. She just reads it out. As for removing a minister, she can't do it. In fact, appointing and dismissing ministers is just about the only explicit power that a Prime Minister has under the "first amongst equals" concept.

The monarch cannot drive any legislation at all. Only the government or opposition parties (or private MP's in certain circumstances) can introduce anything. To go with your example, it could be the case that the Queen asked the government or an MP to introduce something, but that doesn't for a second mean that it would pass, even if it were theoretically possible. In reality, the Queen involving herself in anything political would pretty much be viewed as grounds for dismissal - she's not allowed to enter the political fray in any way shape or form.

Perhaps the best way of analysing where she does have some say, is in the soft power that she has. The Prime Minister of the day has a weekly audience with the Queen, which historically was to gain the monarch's approval for what the government were planning. What happens nowadays is that the Prime Minister of the day views it as a hugely valuable sounding board. Blair talked about it a while back, saying that he greatly treasured the opportunity to freely discuss absolutely anything with the one person he knows for absolute certain will never, ever break that confidence. Could you argue that the Queen has the opportunity to exert influence through the Prime Minister? I suppose so, but to a much lesser extent than, say, his wife would.

As for appointing a Prime Minister, this gets slightly confusing as there isn't really a formal process. The Prime Minister is always the leader of the party that is in government, and obviously in most circumstances it is pretty clear cut. Sometimes it isn't though. Back in 1974 we had two elections with the first being a hung Parliament and it was by no means certain who should be the government.

In such circumstances, she receives advice from the Privy Council, and also from the party leaders themselves. On that occasion, she saw Edward Heath (the Tory leader) and it was he who said he didn't believe he could form a government and that she should send for Wilson. It's messy in those circumstances, but I suppose you could say that just about any country is going to be a bit messy when it's as close as that. But that's probably the one (likely) situation where you could say she does actually have some influence. Even then, it has to be something that Parliament will accept. Although in theory she could appoint me as PM (and she bloody well should), the first order of business in Parliament would be a no-confidence vote, and we'd be back to square one.

As you already know, so much of it is about convention and practice. The key to the conventions is that they do have the same power as hard laws though. Yes, you can say that it doesn't say anywhere that she can't, but equally nor does it say anywhere that she can. This is why, for us, it works, because the Crown can't exercise powers it doesn't actually have either.

Britain's constitution is exceptionally peculiar; full of things being done because they've always been done that way. Hardly anything is written in stone in terms of procedure. To give an example, the only actual power the House of Lords has is to block the extension of a Parliament. Nothing else, it can only delay, but it can do that with the best of them!

Ultimately, this is why you find yourself in the position you do in Australia, with all sorts of possible ways to beat the system as it is currently set-up. Ours has just evolved over 1000 years plus. It's completely impossible to duplicate anywhere else, even if you wanted to.

Does that clarify things? Let me know if there's anything more, I'm quite happy to go through it.
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