Comparison of Electoral College and British Parliamentary System

Systems of Governance: UK vs US

Systems of governance between the United Kingdom and the United States of America have a distinctive difference in the way that the governments are formed and run in both countries. According to (Gering & Thacker, 2008, 50), there are different methods of governance which can define a democratic government and they do not need to follow the same mode of administration to be considered democratic. Democracy is, therefore, a vast inclusion and seclusion of social, political and economic aspects that shape up the administration and operations of the government. In essence, the democratic process begins from the common citizen to the highest echelons of the country where laws and policies are formulated (Gering & Thacker, 2008, 88). This is the case that is brought by UK and US where they use a parliamentary and presidential system in selecting or electing their leaders. The complexity of these two systems is brought by the acts of parliament or the constitutional fundamentals which are found in both countries. In understanding these two forms of government the ideology is found in understanding how both systems elect their leaders into government and the roles that they play in the administration. However, the Electoral College system of electing the leader of the government is the most democratic in the sense that the leader would be elected according to the voter’s choices.


Electoral College in America is the major determinant of the individual who rises to the highest political seat in the land which is the presidency while in Britain the prime minister is the highest leader who is elected after one of the major political party has a majority in parliament (Pemberton, et al, 2012, 708). All these differences are brought by the constitutional or Acts of parliament that have been an integral part of these two countries. In Electoral College as described by the United States Constitution is supposed to be a process where the president is supposed to be elected. The Electoral College has 538 electors but for any candidate to be declared the president they need to have a majority of 270 electoral votes (Miller, 2012, 100). In the process of gaining that stature, the presidential candidate is supposed to ensure that they are able to convince some major swing states to support their presidential bid in order to clinch the presidency. Due to the complexity of the process, congressional elections are held independently from the presidential elections and their service is independent of the legislative arm of the government. The difference in the British system is that the prime minister is elected from the majority party in the House of Commons which acts as the main legislative institution in the country (Howlett, et al, 2009, 75). Therefore, the control of the government is based on the majority of the house of common which relegates the house of the lords to a ceremonial institution which does not play any major role in the formation and shaping of the government. This is in contrast to the American system where the Congress has two powerful houses in the House of Representatives and the Senate and the presidential party can have a majority in either of the two houses.

Election Process

The American constitution has elaborately and concisely indicated and approved the days, dates and the cycle under which elections can occur up to the swearing date of the presidential candidate who has been able to triumph. However, in Britain, there is no such a system and election are considered depending on the ending of the term of the current administration since the time that the last election was conducted. In Britain, the Conservatives party and Labor party, the Tea party and Liberal Democrat Party amongst other political groups are some of the parties which have continued to field candidates for elective posts. In America, there are other political parties but the two major dominating political parties are the Democrats and the Republicans who have shaped the American history for a very long time. In the Senate or the house of representatives, individuals may be elected with candidatures from other minor parties but when it comes to the presidential nominees the tide shifts to the two major parties (Abramowitz, 2012, 619). This process has been lauded as a major democratic milestone because for a candidate to be considered as a major contender for the presidency then they have to get approval from their national election delegates through a voting process.

In Britain, the individual who is elected as a prime minister needs to have an elective post in parliament before they can be considered for the candidature whereas in American the individual may not need political acumen to be considered to the seat of the presidency. There are limits which are found in the American presidential system where the president serves a term of four years unless they win another term which would total it to eight, senators and congressmen are supposed to serve for six and two years respectively. In Britain, the house of common members are elected on a five-year cycle but under special conditions, the prime minister may call for an election after a four year period (Benton & Russell, 2012, 772). The use of the primary system for the presidential candidates is only found in America whereas in Britain the candidates are confined to the constituency which they come from and whether they will be elected.

Separation of Powers in the Legislature

Congress which is found in America is bicameral whereas the British parliament is not. The reason which supports the presidential system under this context is that both the members of senate or house of representative are elected from their respective regions. This is in contrast to the British system where the members of the House of Commons are the only elected members of the parliament whereas the house of lord representatives are appointed. These appointments are seen as the only major difference in a democratic country where elections determine who will be representing the interests of the public and the nation in general (Strøm, 2000, 263). Representation in the House of Lords is seen as a measure of satisfying the monarch which is part of the British form of life. Generally, the monarch does not undertake any major administration roles in the running affairs of the countries because their role is ceremonial and a form of satisfying a lifelong tradition. The parliamentary system is seen as a complicated form of a democratic process due to the appointments of the House of Lords which does not have a major role in which it plays in formulating the laws and policies of the country.

In the American presidential system, it is highly preferable when it comes to the making of laws and policies because Congress must agree before any major or drastic measures are undertaken. The Senate undertakes the role of confirming the presidential appointments into powerful federal institutions like departments of defense, state, and treasury. The house of representatives originates the spending bills and any other bills which may have an impact in the country. The Senate can also be able to ratify any treaties that are entered by the president or if there are any major political setbacks then they can impeach the president but with a combined agreement of the whole congress. In the parliamentary system which is practiced in Britain, there is no real separation of powers because the majority party which elects the prime minister is the one which gives the prime minister to elect his/her cabinet (Goodnow, 2017, 40). In American presidential system, the Senate and the house of representative have got their own distinct mandate which does not overlap the role and functions of the other. The house of lords does not have any mandate to block any bills that are presented by the parliament unless it under very special circumstances which rarely occur relegating their role to just observation and presence. Democratic processes are seen as a delicate balance between the needs of the country and the inclinations of the elected members who vote on major motions which are supposed to be the driving forces of the administration that is running the country.


Abramowitz, A. (2012). Forecasting in a polarized era: The time for change model and the 2012          presidential election. PS: Political Science " Politics, 45(4), 618-619.

Benton, M., " Russell, M. (2012). Assessing the impact of parliamentary oversight committees:    The select committees in the British House of Commons. Parliamentary Affairs, 66(4), 772-797.

Gerring, J., " Thacker, S. C. (2008). A centripetal theory of democratic governance. Cambridge      University Press.

Goodnow, F. J. (2017). Politics and administration: A study in government. Routledge.

Howlett, M., Ramesh, M., " Perl, A. (2009). Studying public policy: Policy cycles and policy  subsystems (Vol. 3). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Miller, N. R. (2012). Election inversions by the US Electoral College. In Electoral Systems (pp.   93-127). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Pemberton, Hugh, and Mark Wickham-Jones. "Brothers all? The operation of the electoral          college in the 2010 Labour leadership contest." Parliamentary Affairs 66.4 (2012): 708     731.

Strøm, K. (2000). Delegation and accountability in parliamentary democracies. European journal of political research, 37(3), 261-290.

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