Sunday, July 12, 2009

Seriously, Can He Do That?

What with all the coups and shake-ups in national governments these days, I shouldn't be surprised to read when the prime minister of a nation decides to dissolve Parliament.  But for some reason, when that nation is Japan, it just seems weird to me.  Is that wrong?

I guess I don't follow Japanese politics enough, because if I had, I would know that things have been a little tense there for a while.  The article is pretty clear that there's been some struggles in the government for some time, and that the events of the last few days have brought things to a breaking point.  And with the global economic meltdown still melting a bit (pretty much all I know about the global economic meltdown is that there is one....and that it started right AFTER our honeymoon in England began, and AFTER we had changed our money at the airport), I guess it's no surprise that any political party in power in any nation would be facing opposition.

But seriously, can a prime minister dissolve Parliament?  The very concept boggles the mind.


Laura said...

As I recall European Parlimentary Government (albeit 25 years ago...) the Prime Minister can dissolve parliament and call for new elections. Each government may have some specific resolutions as to how it is carried out...

Backbencher said...

Laura is right. For example the powers of the prime minister in a UK style system can disolve parliament and force a general election.

Thatcher called early elections in 83 and 87. The 83 election came in the wake of the UK victory in the Falklands war. Blair also called early elections in 01 and 05.

Most recently Stephen Harper called for early elections in Canada last year. Even though he had only been Prime Minister for a about 2 1/2 years, Harper called for an early election because he did not have a comfortable majority in the House of Commons.

Japan's parliament(Diet) is heavily influenced by the UK model, and contain many of the same features. However, Japan's political system is often tumultuous and there is often a change in prime ministers every couple of years.

LiturgyGeek said...

So, I knew about calling early elections, but with that comes the dissolve of Parliament? That just sounds weird and unstable to me - no matter where it happens.

Thanks, PLtheB and BB - as always, I am learning much from you!

Backbencher said...

It is the dissolution that causes the elections to take place. In the UK it is technically the Monarch who dissolves Parliament but always on the advice of the Prime Minister of the day.

As for the issues of stabilty, it is a little more stable than it might appear on first glance. Ine the U.S. the House of Represenitives is dissolved every two years. When the new Congress convenes the House reconsititutes itself and votes on its officers and the rules that will govern its procedings.

Laura said...

I recall something about a nerd code this weekend...applies to me at the moment, methinks.