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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > May 2019 > Beg, borrow and steal

Beg, borrow and steal

Bright ideas for fixing Westminster from around the world

Scotland: parliament controls the agenda

The government’s iron grip on the timetable of MPs has distorted the Brexit debate. In many other countries it is not dictated but brokered through a “business committee” reflecting the majority but also the broader balance of forces in the legislature. In some parliaments, including Scotland’s, the agenda also has to be put to the whole chamber for approval.

This makes it much more difficult to close down important discussions ministers would rather avoid.

Germany: choosing a new prime minister

It is impossible to have a chancellor without a majority in the Bundestag. At the start of each term a single candidate—the leader of the winning party or coalition—is formally proposed by the president and members of the Bundestag vote in a secret ballot. If the chancellor ever loses the support of parliament, a no confidence vote can be called, but a successor must be elected at the same time.

Ireland: getting citizens involved

Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly was formed in 2016 to consider a series of questions, most famously abortion but also climate change, referendums, aging and fixed-term parliaments. It allowed a selection of 66 randomly-chosen citizens, plus 33 representatives from political parties, to suggest a range of constitutional amendments—providing a means for ordinary people to feed into Ireland’s governing document.

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About Prospect Magazine

InProspect's May issue: Tom Clark explores how British politics has ended up in crisis and suggests that a proper constitution could have avoided the current chaos and may well be necessary now to avoid the same problems in the future. Elsewhere in the issue: Kevin Maguire profiles Labour deputy leader Tom Watson who says that “if needs must” he would join a government of national unity. Max Rashbrooke examines Jacinda Ardern’s government in New Zealand and the ways the country is being transformed, ultimately suggesting that it could be an example for Britain to follow. Also, Stefanie Marsh follows the work of a donor detective who is helping children conceived by anonymous sperm donation to find their biological parents and Francesca Wade shows how Virginia Woolf is inspiring a new generation of women writers.