The 5th Republic instituted a number of french constitutional reforms in France upon ending the 4th Republican political gridlock. The reforms ranged from a renewal of the party system to victory for feminism where minor parties and women were allowed to contest every elective post. Consequently, women made up 19% of the legislature.
Contrastingly, in the US especially after 2010, courts interfered with the democratic process. For instance, the 2010 Supreme Court’s ruling on the citizens united, disgraced the political equality that had been enjoyed by Americans for many years. This ruling ensured that independent billionaires and the political clout in Washington had their day at the expense of many disgruntled voters. Politicians could still reach out to corporate organizations for campaign funds.
“Inequality has a direct impact on the democratic process by placing greater amounts of wealth in the hands of a tiny minority, who can use it to exercise undue influence on who is nominated and elected. The influence can also lobby governmental decision-making bodies, which in turn allow them to generate even more wealth for themselves (Schneirov and Fernandez 210)”. Despite this blow to democracy, the 2010 US Affordable healthcare act had a plus for the democratization process by enabling all Americans to access health care.
The French 5th Republic provides a case in point of two ballots plurality system. In this system, there is a need for a majority in the first ballot/round election. The absolute majority is registered by more than 50% of the cast votes. If there is no 50+1% in the first round, there is a rerun where the winner in this case, regardless of the percentage of votes, is one who has most votes. Like the US system, the weakest candidates are usually pressured to withdraw. On the other hand, the US system has impediments such as bare minimum vote sharing thresholds. These procedures obstruct small parties from winning voter representation.
Members of an electoral college in the USA determine the winner in case of a close race. In both countries, the party that holds the majority in the legislature tends to encourage polarization and hyper-partisanship amongst parties. For instance, the lack of suggestions for dramatic change, less charismatic leaders, cohabitation and scandals has reduced the presidential powers in France. “Republicans have been able to maintain control of the House since 1994 chiefly because elections are seldom contested and because large campaign donors are more likely to contribute to likely winners. (Schneirov and Fernandez 239)”
The French Parliament is more powerful than the British parliament. This is because Britain has a parliamentary system where there is considerable unity between the executive and legislative branches. Consequently, parliament in Britain plays a very negligible decision making role. Apart from that, the party with the majority in parliament names the cabinet from its members. This means that the legislature cannot go against the executive given that its members are in the ruling party. Contrastingly, France has a hybrid system where the country is governed by two principals: the President and the Prime minister on a power-sharing agreement. Since the running of government is the prerogative of the Prime minister and a cabinet appointed by the President, parliament has more power over the executive. However, the President can unanimously introduce a referendum; hence, bypassing the legislating role of parliament if the bill is passed by the masses. In the 1950’s, most French governments lasted for about 9 months because the lawmakers introduced a vote of no confidence and a new government was elected if their motion sailed through by absolute majority.
In France, there are high rates of unemployment in comparison to the USA. Consequently, voters want to elect a socialist regime because they believe that it will stop the high inequality rates and the decline in job security that has been typical of the country since the 1970s. However, the case in the US is quite different: “Since 2008, the country has moved in a progressive economic direction for middle and low-income Americans. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 provides for a significant improvement in the medical and financial security for a large number of Americans, especially for the bottom half of the income distribution (Schneirov and Fernandez 269).”
Schneirov Richard, and Fernandez Gaston A. Democracy as a Way of Life in America: A History. Routledge: New York. (2012): 210-270.Print.
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