A parliamentary government for the United States? The recent 3 1/2-week British political campaign with the resounding victory for the incumbent prime minister must cause wonderment in the United States where we are becoming accustomed to campaigns running into one or two years.
Compared to our confusing results, the British election gave a clear mandate to the incumbent party. This was a result of a clear understanding of the electorate of the issues involved.
Compared to our system of divided powers, the executive and legislative functions are headed by the prime minister. This eliminates the constant squabbling inherent in our system of divided powers.
The British have what is in reality a unicameral legislative body since the House of Lords has no real political power anymore. We have the Senate and the House of Representatives in constant collision over policies. Then we have the President with his veto power. As a result we often have a deadlock over policies or actions by the executive branch. A good historical example was the defeat of President Woodrow Wilson's move to join the League of Nations by the U.S. Senate, and more recently the defeat of the SALT II Treaty by the Senate's failure to provide a two-thirds majority for ratification. In the parliamentary system these things could not happen since the government has control of the legislative body.
In transforming our system to a parliamentary one many difficult adjustments would have to be made. The role of the Senate might have to be reduced to that of a senior advisory body. The office of the President might have to become more of a titular one as head of state. Party discipline would have to be restored in order for the party in power to govern effectively.
After 200 years of our system of divided powers it will be difficult for the American people to adjust to a system that is so successful in operation in our allied countries around the world.
JOHN G. FRAYNE