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CHAT: representative bodies

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Sunday, June 20, 2004, 3:35
Joe said:
> > The US is the > > only nation I know of that only has two parties represented in its > > Parliament(Yes, it's called Congress, but it's still a Parliament).
Jamaica and Costa Rica are two other examples. Tristan said:
> No... the Congress is a congress. There's two distinct systems: the > Parliamentary system, which has parliaments, as used by Britain and most > Commonwealth countries, and the Presedential system, which has > congresses as used by America and various other countries... I think the > difference is that the executive is kept separate from the legislature > in one and mixed in with the other, but it could be that I'm focussing > on the wrong distinction...
The actual title of the legislative branch is actually quite irrelevant; there is no "platonic" entity for such a gathering. The only real reason for perpetuating "Parliament" or "Congress" (or "diet" or "synod" or "loya jirga" or what have you) has been the particular political tradition from which individual countries have drawn inspiration in forming their political institutions. It so happens that most European countries have been influenced by the English and French experiences with representative institutions, and so use terms familiar from that context. In the new world, with a few exceptions like Canada, the United States has been the dominant role model, and so many of the representative bodies are called Congresses. But these are labels hiding great differences, as the discussion of Australia's "parliament" has made clear. ========================================================================= Thomas Wier "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally, Dept. of Linguistics because our secret police don't get it right University of Chicago half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of 1010 E. 59th Street Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter. Chicago, IL 60637