The Presidentification of U.K. Politics

A small but irritating sentence from the FT:

On most projections Mr Cameron is expected to win more seats than Mr Miliband, although the race is tight.

In fact, any sensible projection would have Cameron and Miliband winning the same number of seats: One each.

In the U.S. System, the nation does indeed vote on one individual versus another for the top job. But in the Westminster system you vote for a party. Unless you happen to live in his/her constituency, you do not vote for or against a prime minister at all. Further, the party you voted for can throw it’s PM out of office at any time and go right on governing, and even if they keep their leader, s/he has (unlike a president) little independent power apart from the party. But between the UK’s wrongheaded adoption of our tiresome televised candidate debates and the relentless focus of the press on the party leaders’ personalities, families and lifestyles (even, their eating habits), you’d think the British public are about to vote for the next President of the United Kingdom.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. He served as a senior policy advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2009 to 2010.