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In Flight
Forced Smiles
Happy Oblivion
Ducking Destiny
Chance of Showers
Chance Encounters
The Thinking Dog
The Race
Flight of the Ostrich
Monster Under My Bed
The Rose Garden
Window Shopping
Dramatic Romances
Musings on Nature
A Day at School
The Holy Light
A Rainy Night


The Roller Coaster
The Purse
Sammy's Lesson
The Legend of the Hungry Dragon
Spirits in the Night


My Philosophy of Life
Five Scholarship Questions
Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois
Prophets for God
My Service Project (1999-2000)
My Service Project (1997-1998)
The Beauty of the Forest
Reaching Beyond

The Pastry Menace
A College Just for You!
The Rights of Plants

Literary Analyses
Saving Harry:  Clearing the Controversy Over Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Essays on Wuthering Heights
The Creature in Frankenstein and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Edna's Decision in The Awakening
Character Comparison in Kate Chopin's The Awakening
Why The Chosen?

Research Papers
Race, Norms, and the Sidewalk
Analytical Exercise
The Validity of Comparing Governments
The British System: Legal-Rational Or Traditional?
The Importance of Framing
Madison on Factions
Spirituality and the Brain
Sea Water and Conductivity

Clinic Violence: A "Moral" Way to Bring About Change?
Graduation Speech
The Call to Relationship
Mark Twain Speaks Again (original version)
Mark Twain Speaks Again (shortened version)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Year 2000
Hunting for Sport?

Mercury Spill Exercise
Chocolate Feature Exercise
Character Sketch
Reaction Story
Aspiring Actress Profile
"Shark Attack" Exercise
Villa Maria Academy Hosts Diversity Panel

Coastal Vacation


Analytical Exercise

The United Kingdom currently faces many questions about its system of government. The future of traditional institutions, such as the monarchy and the House of Lords, is being questioned. People question whether the current method of electing members of the House of Commons is most representative of the nation. The very concept of what the nation is comes into question when considering the United Kingdom's role in the European Union and the level of independence that should be given to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

When most people think of reforming the United Kingdom, their attention is immediately drawn to the undemocratic institutions of the monarchy and House of Lords. Both institutions have seen reform in the past several years, the monarchy with the reform of the Civil List and other cuts in spending and the Lords with the removal of most hereditary peers. However, these institutions, while they may see other reforms, such as election of at least some members of the second house as 47 percent of the population supports according to Market Opinion and Research International, neither is likely to be abolished. Britons tend to favor sticking with what has worked in the past, and unless some compelling new reason comes along that makes people turn against these age-old institutions, they are likely to remain. In another MORI poll, 70 percent of those surveyed supported a monarchical system and 67 percent saw the monarchy as still existing in 25 years.

Electoral reform is another issue currently on the British agenda. Today, members of Parliament are elected by winning a plurality in their constituencies. This "first-past-the-post" method of electing the House of Commons has caused controversy among those who wish to see representation in the Commons more proportional to the actual votes cast for each party. On the table are three main reform proposals, the List System, the Additional Member System and the Single Transferable Vote. Each system is used in certain United Kingdom elections but not for the Commons. It is likely that any proposed change in representation would be put to a referendum, and as the population does not overwhelmingly support the change--only 45 percent, according to MORI--it is a proposal unlikely to pass.

Britain's involvement in the European community is a divisive issue among the population. Of those surveyed by MORI, 17 percent unequivocally support British participation in the European Union and 23 percent strongly oppose it, with 51 percent of the population falling somewhere in between. Although a member of the EU, Britain has been reluctant to fully support all of its activities, such as the euro single currency. But if MORI's results concerning the euro are correct, then the British will likely become much more involved with the EU if the euro is an economic success on the Continent.

The British Empire has shrunk massively since its days as a colonial power, and the United Kingdom continues to see its constituent parts try to break away. In 1997, Scottish and Welsh citizens voted yes to a referendum on devolution, creating a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly. Northern Ireland has its own assembly as well. These developments do not signal the end of the United Kingdom, however. Joined by land and a common culture, Wales and Scotland are unlikely to completely break away from Great Britain, and giving them a measure of autonomy was a good way to keep them a part of the whole. Problem-plagued Northern Ireland, physically separate from Great Britain but adjoining the Republic of Ireland, seems a far more likely candidate for secession, although if it were to leave the United Kingdom, it is unlikely that it would be annexed to Ireland as opposition to this is as strong as opposition to remaining a part of the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom will face many decisions in coming years. Issues ranging from outdated institutions to nationalism already have confronted the nation. With its empirical approach to problem solving deeply embedded in its political culture, though, it is unlikely to change greatly unless another way can be strongly demonstrated to be better.

Copyright © 2002 Colleen Fischer | Last updated October 7, 2002