Political Systems around the World and the Causes and Consequences of Gridlock

Political Systems and Gridlock around the world

There are different types of political systems in different countries around the world. If the United States has a presidential direct election kind of system, the UK and India have parliamentary systems that are characterized by a mixture of direct and indirect elections. This means that the democratic countries in the world each have their own versions of democratic political systems. In this context, it is worthwhile to note that in recent years, no matter which type of political system the countries have, there seems to be a deadlock among the lawmakers and despite the well-intentioned efforts of many elected heads of government, policy paralysis, and political gridlock have become permanent features of the political systems. Before analyzing the reasons for this gridlock, it is important to realize that political paralysis and gridlock happen mainly because of differing perceptions on the agendas of the political parties and hence, without blaming a particular form of political system, the solutions must be sought in the nature of the political parties and their agendas along with their manifestos. The point here is that there has been a trend towards sharpening of the divide among the political parties because of a host of factors and hence, gridlock and policy paralysis have become the order of the day.

Attempts to Change and Resistance

In the United States, President Obama campaigned on a promise to end partisanship and change the way Washington’s political culture works. However, he has been unable to make much headway in this regard and this predicament tells us a lot about how entrenched the vested interests and the status quoists have become in the political structure. In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron similarly promised to overhaul the political system and introduce changes in the way the political systems worked in that country. However, he has been unable to do so. The situation in Europe is much worse as many countries are simply being ruled by unelected technocrats who do not have an allegiance to the people and instead, follow the agendas of banking and financial interests. Though these points might sound cynical and gloomy, the key aspect here is that the political systems around the world have become immune to change and instead, have fallen prey to gridlock and policy paralysis. For instance, in the world’s largest democracy, India, parliament has not been functioning for over a year now and this speaks volumes about the charade that democracy has become. The lessons from the examples cited here are that the political class must not aspire for wholesale and radical change and instead, must focus on tweaking the system so that there is at least a semblance of order.

Some Reflections on why Democracy is still the best bet

Having said that, it must also be noted that the present and the upcoming generations of young people are not taking kindly to this failure of the political class and are voting with their feet by protesting and resorting to resistance to the political class. Further, there is also a hopelessness and cynicism with the political systems leading to indifference and apathy. These trends do not portend well for the future of democracy and hence, this is the time for all political parties across the world to realize that their true allegiance is to the people who elected them and not to the special interests that have them in their grip. Hence, the overarching theme in this discussion is that it is time for the political class to shed their differences and ensure that democracy works in practice and not only in theory. The alternative would be a violent uprising or a coup that would cause irredeemable damage to the democratic institutions, which in the present context are limping but still able to represent the people. In conclusion, democracy is any day preferable over other forms of political systems and this is the lesson that the present generation must learn before they attempt to change the system.


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Political Science