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jdavidb (1361)

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J. David Blackstone has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering and nine years of experience at a wireless telecommunications company, where he learned Perl and never looked back. J. David has an advantage in that he works really hard, he has a passion for writing good software, and he knows many of the world's best Perl programmers.

Journal of jdavidb (1361)

Thursday June 29, 2006
03:09 PM

The government collapses

[ #30101 ]

I just read the following headline on the front page of Wikipedia: "The Dutch government collapses as the Democrats 66 party withdraws from Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's coalition cabinet, citing opposition to the handling of the Ayaan Hirsi Ali affair."

I always get a kick out of reading about politics from countries with a parliamentary system because of the completely different use of the word "government," which in those countries means "all the people presently in power" rather than "the entire system." When they say "government," they mean what Americans would call "the 109th Congress," but we hear something that to us means "Congress." Plus there's the difference of having these events where the current Parliament starts over with new elections, etc. So we hear a headline that sounds to us like, "Congress has disbanded, the country must be in anarchy now," and it's really as simple as, "There will be some special elections and a new Speaker of the House." (Which is admittedly not trivial, but it always sounds more drastic to an American ear than it really is. It's particularly funny to hear it for such well-established countries with long histories. Imagine if you heard a headline that said that the United States government had ceased to exist.)

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  • It's been similarly odd to experience this (twice) since moving to Canada from the US.

    I especially like how the press talks about "the X party has brought down the government."


    -DA []

  • That's not what US-ians would call the 109th Congress -- in the French 5th Constitution the "Government" is the set of ministers, as opposed to the Parliament and to the Senate (on the legislative side) and to the President (on the executive side). This is even reflected in DNS -- each ministry has a website whose domain ends in
    • I'm confused. Do the ministers work in the legislative side, or the executive side? Are they what US-ians would call the President's administration?

      J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
      • Yes, exactly. Ministers are part of the executive. The President nominates a Prime minister, who nominates the members of the government (== ministers). If the Parliament finds they don't do their job correctly, they can decide to have a vote of confidence; if it's negative, the government is dissolved and the President must nominate another Prime minister. (This happens rarely now. This used to happen frequently under the 4th republic, which is one of the reasons why this constitution was abandoned in favo