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Absolutism is a political theory favoring the absolute power of the head of state, which may be a monarch. (Monarch as in a king or queen, not as in a type of butterfly.)

I suspect that most presidents and prime ministers these days would prefer to have absolutism in their countries. Of course, they would admit to that aloud, but I bet they’re thinking it. Fortunately, in democracies, they can’t always get what they want. However, there is an exception to that rule.

In Westminster style parliamentary systems, if the Prime Minister’s party has a majority in the House of Commons and controls the upper house, then he or she can act almost without limit for the four or five years, or however long that country’s constitution allows, until the next election.

Because of party discipline (more so in some Westminster-style parliamentary countries than in others), a party with a majority in both Houses can win any vote it wants to win.

And in at least one country that I can think of, the seats in the upper house are filled not by election, but through appointments by the Prime Minister of the day when or shortly after the seat becomes vacant. (Seats in the lower house, The House of Commons, are all filled by a general election.) So, if a party wins enough consecutive elections, it can stack the upper house with its own party loyalists, extending its influence there beyond when it loses control of the lower house at the ballot box.

Furthermore, in at least some of these countries, the allocation of seats on parliamentary committees is determined by the percentages of seats that each party has in the House. Thus, in those countries, the majority party can act pretty much like dictators until the next election, with only the constitution limiting them, and then only when the Supreme Court gets around to striking down unconstitutional laws.

But enough about absolutism in Canadian politics. Let’s move on.

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