What are we electing?
A government? No. Individually we are electing MPs to a Parliament – that’s all (!). It is the Parliament which in effect elects a Government (by not voting it out on a confidence motion). It is a bit like a glorified Electoral College. In that respect the “Presidential” style debates are appropriate.
In a United States Presidential Election, the population elects members of an electoral college who then elect the president – it is meant to help hold the states together, but can lead to someone winning the Presidency whilst losing the Popular vote.
It looks as if the same could happen here, but because we have a three/four party system our “President” gets elected on a minority vote – and then the electoral college (the MPs) becomes the equivalent of the US Congress, so the chances of our “President” and his executive being effectively held to account by the legislature is minimal because they always support each other.
It’s a mess:
- If we want a Presidential system (i.e. electing an individual as head of government and letting him or her appoint the executive), let’s make sure it is done purely on the popular vote – and then make sure that the legislature is representative (and accountable).
- If we want a Parliamentary System (i.e. we elect individuals as representatives and they support an administration), let’s make sure that our representatives are representative.
At the moment we seem to have the worst of both.