Thursday, 4 June 2009

Election day

Voting takes place today to select our Euro MPs and, in most of the country but not here, local councillors. I have exercised my democratic right, what some would call my democratic duty, and voted. I was taken aback to see that I could vote for one of FIFTEEN parties, about ten of which I had never heard of before.


Uncle Skip, said...

I had forgotten that there's another whole level of gov't beyond the parliament.
Do you have anything that corresponds to our county and state governments?

Brighton Pensioner said...

Oh yes, certainly. Perhaps I should explain that we have a most peculiar system of national government in the UK at the moment. There are, of course, the Houses of Parliament (Lords and Commons), ie an upper and a lower house, similar (I understand) to the system operating in the US. But there are also Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies (parliaments) to which some power has been devolved. They run domestic affairs in their own areas, but defence and foreign affairs are still in the hands of the H of P. BUT - there is no similar assembly for England, so MPs representing Scottish, Welsh and N Irish constituencies are able to influence and vote on matters that have no effect on their own constituents, whereas MPs representing English constituencies have no control whatsoever over Scottish, Welsh or N Irish affairs. (This is known, for some obscure reason, as the West Lothian question.)

This means that there are two sets of MPs for Scotland, Wales and N Ireland, effectively increasing the cost of government.

I think that goes some way to answering your question: the EU parliament is, perhaps, the equivalent of Washington DC, while the UK Parliament (and the national assemblies) equate to your state legislature.

Then we have county councils, and even more locally, district or borough councils. Small villages will also have their own parish councils with very limited authority - perhaps some influence over the siting of bus stops, litter bins etc but not an awful lot more.

And here endeth the first lesson!

Uncle Skip, said...

Okay, I always related your Houses of Parliament as corresponding to our Congress (Senate & House of Representatives) and looked at the EU as some kind of economic convenience that sometimes got in the way of common sense :)

The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies sound quite similar to our state governments.

Brighton Pensioner said...

"the EU as some kind of economic convenience that sometimes got in the way of common sense"

Make that economic INconvenience and there are an awful lot of people who would agree with you!

We are ever more beset by laws that emanate from Brussels (the EU) rather than from our own Parliament and there are many people who claim that Parliament has signed away our sovereignty.