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To What Extent Have Pime Ministers Become More Presidential

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To what extent have the UK prime ministers become more ‘presidential’? ( 25 )
T
he theory that prime ministers are becoming more presidential can come under the term ‘presidentialism’. This is the notion that the British prime minister has outgrown the parliamentary system. This suggests that UK prime ministers increasingly resemble presidents such as Wilson, Thatcher and Blair usually being seen as key examples.
Evidence that shows the growth of presidentialism is that some prime ministers tend to distance themselves from their parties and governments by representing themselves as outsiders or even developing personal ideological stance for example ‘Thatcherism’ or ‘Blarism’. Another piece of evidence is that prime ministers have personalized election campaigns which means the mass media increasingly portrays elections as personalized battles between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. Party leaders thus become the ‘brand image’ of their parties or government which means that personality and image have become major determinants of political success or failure. Furthermore, prime ministers have a strengthened cabinet office. The size and administrative resources available to the cabinet office have grown, turning it into a small-scale prime ministers department responsible for coordinating the rest of Whitehall. Also, prime ministers are using a wider range of special advisors as they are relying increasingly on hand-picked political advisors rather than on cabinets, ministers and senior civil servants. These often have personal loyalty to the prime ministers rather than to the party or government. Finally, the theory of personal mandates is a trend for prime ministers to claim popular authority on the basis of their electoral success. Prime ministers have therefore become the ideological consciences of their party or government.
Since the 1990;s, some commentators have drawn attention to what they have seen as a growth of presidentialism in the UK (Foley, 1993,2000).
On the other hand, prime ministers cannot become presidents because the UK has a system of parliamentary government rather than presidential government. For instance, the UK does not have a constitutional separation of powers between the legislature and executive, as characterizes the US system. Similarly, despite the growth of personalized election campaigning in the UK, prime ministers continue to be appointed as a result of parliamentary elections, not by a separate electoral process, as occurs in the USA.
Other factors that differentiate prime ministers from presidents are that PM’s are head of government and presidents are head of government and state. PM’s are elected via parliamentary elections and presidents are separately elected. Also, prime ministers have control of the legislature whereas presidents have an independent legislature. Presidents have a ‘sounding-board’ cabinet and PM’s have a collective cabinet and finally, prime ministers don’t have a department whereas presidents have a personal department.…...

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