It’s quite feasible now that the Lib Dems will win the popular vote and still end up with the least number of seats in the House of Commons. That won’t go down well and this time won’t just be accepted – we might experience our own 1968, when students in Paris and Berlin took to the streets to create an opposition outside of parliament. It most likely will end up in a change of the electoral system to a proportional representation.
So, why stop here? If we are making changes, let’s make real changes and let’s address some other issues.
1 – Separation of power
In the current system (and that is a criticism I have on several European systems) there is no real separation of power – the legislative (majority in the House of Commons) votes the executive (government and prime minister) from their own party and the executive expects the legislative to support their policies.
How about we follow the US approach – the executive and the legislative are independently voted in directly by the people and in separate election cycles – after two years of a new executive, the legislative will go to an election.
2 – Length of term
Governmental change is very healthy for a democracy, especially in our times when change appears so much quicker and so much more fundamental. So let’s – again looking at our American cousins – restrict it to two terms. I especially like that it gives the out going government so much more freedom as re-election is not an issue, so unpopular but visionary decisions can be made.
I’d even consider introducing a restriction for how many years somebody can be a member of parliament – maybe not to two terms, but maybe four terms. That would mean that we’d have less career politicians and the currently incumbent parliamentarians need to stay in closer touch with society as they re-enter it much quicker and in much larger numbers.
3 – House of Lords
Well, where shall I start? I think a second house is important, but let’s put it up for election by the citizens as well. After all we are really living in a republic, if you like it or not. So let’s behave like one and let’s have the political system for one. It would also create stronger regional powerbases, which will gain in importance the more we move beyond the traditional nation state towards more globalisation and to a more integrated Europe.
However, in contrast to the House of Commons I would not restrict the length of term in the House of Lords, to retain the wisdom and a level of consistency.
There are many more changes that are desirable, the three above, however, are fundamental for building a lasting society and creating a valued and enriching connection between the people and their representatives and ensuring that the representatives are always reminded that they are part of the people. So let’s take this opportunity and give ourselves a system that’s more anchored in the present and built for creating a better future, instead of built in the past and anchored in protecting the status quo.