So, this is where I feel like a stupid American. (And I know I'm only just a little slow.) For all my claiming to understand the differences between the UK and America, and all the effort I seem to have put into that study - I have to say I really don't get the British parliamentary system. Especially after the freaking shambles that occurred after Thursday's UK general election. Not a hanging chad in sight, and yet the country still has no elected leader, no cabinet, nobody sitting in the House of Commons - and backdoor deals are going on to figure out where the country's going to get all these things. Silly American me: I thought the party with the most votes wins.
Apparently not. The Conservative Party won the majority of seats. However, they didn't win an "ABSOLUTE MAJORITY," and that makes all the difference. They're not permitted to take the reigns of power. They can only do so if their total number of seats outnumbers the total number of seats won by all the other parties put together. Now all three major parties (Labour, Conservative and Lib Dems) must make some kind of coalition deal, some sort of power-sharing agreement that will give one faction a quasi-absolute majority. Until then The House of Commons remains empty and Parliament remains "hung." (No jokes please, they're British.) Nick Clegg, the Lib Dems' leader, seems to be holding all the cards here. The two bigger parties need to gain his alliance before a Cabinet and government can be formed.
I know this sounds silly and American, but why can't the Brits just vote for whoever they want to be Prime Minister? Why has this system been allowed to survive? It's prompted Gordon Brown to resign office - following pressure not just from the British political factions, but from the IMF, European Commission and the heads of the EU. Until Britain has a government, the whole of Europe, and the already sickly Euro, are feeling a little queasy.
Plus all the other weird stuff I learned about through this election. Like, the fact that the Prime Minister has to dissolve Parliament in the run-up to every election, and he gets to set the election date. What the --? Dudes, you're making it way too hard on yourselves. Can't you just use November? Can't you just have hanging chad issues and widespread election fraud like we do?