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#11 · Posted: 6 Jun 2007 00:49
How is the British Prime Minister chosen?
The British Prime Minister is simply the leader of the political party in power. Although the political party has to be voted into power by the public (by winning the largest number of parliamentary seats at a general election) a party's leader is only elected into that job by his or her own party members.

Political parties usually change their leader whilst they're out of office, and usually whoever is leader of the winning political party will be Pime Minister for the whole next term of government. Because of this, a general election often feels like an election to decide who's going to be Prime Minister. However, all anyone is actually voting for at a general election is who is going to be their local Member of Parliament. A party is allowed to elect a new leader even when it's in government and in the middle of a term of office, effectively changing the Prime Minister without the general public having any say in it at all. This is what's happening now, with Gordon Brown taking over from Tony Blair (assuming Brown becomes the next leader of the Labour Party, which he will because no one's opposing him for that job).

The same thing happened in about 1990 (if I've got that date right) when Margeret Thatcher was made to step down by her own party, and a new Conservative leader, John Major, was elected by them, thus becoming Prime Minister. He didn't call (and win) a General Election for another two years.

So technically, a week after winning an election with a well-known leader whom everyone in the country assumed was going to be Prime Minister for the next four or five years, a political party could elect itself a new leader whom hardly anyone had heard of - an obscure back bench MP, or even an obscure unelected member of the House of Lords (unless that one's been changed) - and that person would be Prime Minister instead, with the general public having no say in it.

It's arguably not a very popular system with the public, but because both the main political parties have wanted to change leader whilst in office in recent times (and haven't wanted to call a snap general election straight afterwards) it's maybe not in their interests to push for the system to be changed.
#12 · Posted: 6 Jun 2007 17:37
Thanks for the information Balthazar
#13 · Posted: 6 Jun 2007 17:58
OK, I have a question for the British people. I think I may already know the answer, but it'll be interesting to see what people say.

How do you view Americans? I know I'm speaking in very general terms, but feel free to speak in very general terms yourselves. I think I've got a basic notion for how we are viewed around the world, but I'd like to hear it from the horse's mouth :)

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