By mean of the elections people express their opionion how the country should be governed and who in their opinion would do it the best. In this essay I will try to compare how the main bodies of the Government are elected in all three countries – the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Lithuania. Political systems in all three countries are different, so I will try to find principal differencies and similarities in the process of electing the Prrresident and the Parliament.
Let’s start from the head of the state. The United States of America is a Federal Republic, consisting of 50 free states, which are joined together into a federation. The head of the USA like in Lithuania and differently from the UK is a President. In the UK the head of the state is a Monarch who inherits his titles and is not elected.
Qualifications for presidential candidates in the USA have remained the same since the year Washington accccepted the presidency. As directed by the Constitution, a presidential candidate must be a natural born citizen of the United States, a resident for 14 years, and 35 years of age or older. These requirements do not prohibit a woman or a peeerson of colour from being President, but this hasn’t yet occured. The President is elected for a four year term. The incumbent president, even if he loses the election, stays in office until January so that he can run down his government in a controlled manner and so that the newly elected president can select his cabinet in an orderly manner and allow the standing president to deal with issues such as foreign policy which a president-elect might not be in a position to fully understand all the difficulties involved and domestic issues also for the same reason. This is not very different from Lithuania, where newly elected President takes the post only after taking an oath. And until that fooormer president is still the head of the state.
It is traditional for an incoming President in the USA to be joined by the outgoing president at the swearing in ceremony held at Capitol Hill at noon on January 20 as this is seen as a gesture of unity
In Lithuania person who wants to become the President of the country must be at least 40 years old. The President is elected for five years term. The same person may not be elected President offf Republic of Lithuania for more than two consecutive terms.
The elected President of the Republic of Lithuania begins his duties, after in Vilnius and in the presence of the members of the Seimas, taking an oath to the People, swearing to be loyal to the Republic of Lithuania and the Constitution, to conscientiously fulfil the duties of President, and to be equally just to all. The oath of the President is signed by the President and by the Chairperson of the Constitutional Court.
President of the Republic of Lithuania is elected only by citizens of Lithuania by secret ballot. Candidate who gets the most of the votes takes the post. In this aspect the system of electing the President is absolutelly different from that in the USA, where whole process of electing a new President takes about a year and the President is elected by the Electoral College. Another difference is that in Lithuania during the presidential elections only President is elected and in the USA – the President and the Vice President.
A general/presidential election in the USA is held in November of election year. It does not elect the President, just states in numeric terms how many people voted for each candidate but only that. The election of a president is determined by the Electoral College though their votes usually follow the popularity of the voters. The Electoral College system remains at the heart of the American electoral system. Each state has a number of delegates attached to it who are members of the state’s Electoral College. The number of delegates a state gets is dependent on its population and its representation in the House of Representatives. On election day, these electors, pledged to one or another candidate, are popularly elected. In December following the presidential vote, the electors meet in their respective state capitals and cast ballots for President and Vice President. To be elected, a President requires 270 Electoral votes.
It is possible that in a close race or a multiparty race the Electoral College might not cast 270 votes in favor of any candidate — in that event, the House of Representatives would choose the next president.. The presidential election is done on a winner-take-all basis in a state. Therefore if a candidate has most voters voting for him in one state he will get all the Electoral votes that state have. This is true even if the number of people who voted against him is greater than the number he received. But if his competitors received less votes than he did, candidate takes all the votes in that state.
‘Primary election’ is the term used in America for the elections which select the two parties (in the USA there are only two main parties) presidential nomination. The primary elections start in January of election year in what is called the “primary season”. A good start to the primaries is considered vital if a candidate is to become his party’s presidential nomination.
In both countries, Lithuania an USA age limit to be a voter is 18 years. Voting in the United States is a two-step process. There is no national list of eligible voters, so a citizen must first qualify by becoming registered. Citizens register to vote in conjunction with the place they live; if they move to a new location, they typically have to register again. Registration systems have been designed to eliminate fraud. But the procedures for registering voters vary from state to state. In times past registration procedures were sometimes used to discourage certain citizens from participating in elections. Recently, there has been a tendency to ease registration requirements, and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (the “Motor Voter” law) makes it possible for people to register to vote at the time they renew their drivers’ licenses. In Lithuania it is absolutelly different. There is a national list of eligible voters. According to the place person is registered he belongs to the electoral area. The voter’s certificate is delivered to the voter’s home. And only having this certificate person can vote. So, differently from the USA, in Lithuania people who has right to vote, don’t have to register themselves.
Government is the second body after the President in Lithuania and USA and the Monarch in the UK In this aspect the USA and the UK have more similarities than these countries and Lithuania. The Government in those two countries are bicameral, while in Lithuania it is unicameral. In the USA the Congress consists of House of Representatives and the Senate. In the UK there are two Houses of Parliament – House of Lords and House of Representatives. Differently from above mentioned countries Lithuanian Government consists only of one body called Seimas.
In the USA each seat in House of Representatives represents a geographic constituency, and every member is elected from a unique, or “single-member,” district by plurality rule; that is, the candidate with most votes wins election. Each of the 50 states is assured of at least one seat in the House, with the rest allocated to the states by population. A candidate for the House of Representatives must be at least 25 years old, must have been a US citizen for at least 7 years, be a resident of the state in which seeks election and may be elected by voters of one congressional district of the state or be elected by voters throughout the state.
The Senate was designed to represent the states and, in fact, senators were originally selected by state legislatures. It was not until passage of the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1913 that senators were directly elected by their state’s voters. Every state has two senators elected for six-year terms, with one-third of the Senate seats up for reelection every two years. In effect, then, senators are chosen by plurality vote of the electorate, with a state serving as a single-member district. A candidate for the Senate must be at least 30 years old, to have been a US citizen for at least 9 years, to be a resident of the state in which he seeks election and must be elected by voters from all parts of the state.
In the UK, like in the USA the Government consists of two houses, but only members of House of Representatives are elected. Members of House of Lords inherit their seats or they get it for special merits for the country. Members of the House of Commons are elected by voters in constituencies. The maximum length of a parliamentary period is five years, but the government in power can choose to have a general election at any time.The UK is divided into constituencies and each of them elects one Member of Parliament from a list of several candidates in a secret ballot. A person who wishes to become an MP must be 21 or over, not a bankrupt, a clergyman of the Established Church or holder of certain public offices. Differently from the USA where if candidate doesn’t belong to the main party he has no chances, in the UK it is not necessary to have the support of an established political party if one wants to be a candidate. Differently from the USA in the UK there are always a number of so called ‘independent’ candidates.
Lithuania differently from other two countries has a unicameral Parliament called Seimas. Members of Parliament are elected for four year term in one-candidate or multi-candidate electoral areas by secret ballot. Differently from the USA and the UK where ‘first past the post’ system is in power, Seimas is formed by combined system – half of MP’s are elected by ‘first past the post’ system and the other half is elected by proportional representation. Party has a list of candidates and if it gets more than 5% of the electorate votes, a candidate of this party who are on the list by first number gets a seat in the Parliament. Every citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who is at least 25 years old and is not connected with a foreign state by oath or pledge and has permanently resided in Lithuania may be elected as Seimas member.
To sum up, it is obvious that in the aspect of the head of the state there are more similarities between Lithuania and the USA than the UK, because in the UK the head of the state is Monarch who is not elected, but inherits his title. But in aspect of the Parliament all the three countries are different because even though in the USA and the UK Parliaments are bicameral, in the UK members of only one House are elected, members of House of Lords inherit the seats. And Lithuania differs from these two countries that the Parliament of Lithuania is unicameral.
9. Lectures material on countries