Talk:Parliamentary opposition

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please define "government"Edit

In parliamentary systems, does the term "the government" have a special technical meaning or something?? I keep reading it over and over again in articles, but nowhere that I find yet is any special meaning defined or mentioned. I'm left to take the word at face value, but this makes much of the writing on parliamentary systems sound like nonsense. For example,

Parliamentary Opposition is a form of political opposition to a designated government, particularly in a Westminster-based parliamentary system.

So, what, the minority parties elected officials are opposed to the British government?? How can an elected official be opposed to "the government", if "the government" is taken in the usual sense of the word? To my ears, only terrorists and traitors oppose the government. In fact, that's almost a DEFINITION of a traitor -- one who opposes the government. Or maybe I'm misinterpreting the situation because I'm American and we just have a totally different idea of what "the government" and/or traitor means?? Revolver 07:40, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

By their very presence in the debating chamber, parliamentary oppositions recognize the legitimacy of the system of politics, and thus may share many of the views of the government.

This is another example of a statement which sounds like complete nonsense to American ears. In America, the government doesn't have "views"...I'm not even sure what that means. Individuals or parties have views, but not the government. Am I missing something?? Revolver 07:44, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

As I understand it, the government – when used in the sense of Westminster parliamentary democracies – is the cabinet. After a general election, the leader of the largest party is called upon by the Head of State (the Queen, in the case of the UK) to form the government. This person becomes the Prime Minister, and he selects the ministers that will form his cabinet. Where there is a hung parliament, it may be that the Prime Minister will form an alliance with a smaller party, and in this instance some members of the government (i.e. cabinet) will be selected from that party. An opposition may share the views of the government in that they agree with the form of electoral system that is in use; the mechanisms of raising taxes; and the general operation of the civil service. Thus, while parliament is there to debate and advise, it is the government in the form of the cabinet committee that rules (with the authority of the head of state). Being of more of a scientific bent than someone with any learning in this area, some of the detail is likely to be wrong, but I hope that helps. Noisy | Talk 08:10, May 8, 2005 (UTC)

"Government" here means all the "ministers", of whom there are half a dozen or more for each department, with varying levels of seniority (Secretary of State or equivalent, Minister of State, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State) and their Parliamentary Private Secretary Parliamentary Private Secretaries. Only the Secretary of State for each department is part of the Cabinet (unless that department is the Treasury, but that's another story). Other members of the government's party would be "government backbenchers". Members of all other parties in parliament are the "opposition". They are opposed to the "government of the day", not to the system. This meaning of government is mentioned, albeit in less detail, in Government, in the last paragraph of "Definitions", where it is considered equivalent to the American term "Administration". The equivalence is not perfect, but is good enough. --rbrwr± 09:20, 8 May 2005 (UTC)
Simply put: to Americans, "government" means "the state", whereas in Europe, "government" usually means "the cabinet/administration". In Dutch, we have two words for this: "overhead" (the state) and "regering" (the administration). 09:49, 8 May 2005 (UTC)


The difference in meaning must be mentioned IN THE ARTICLE. It's not enough to say, "well, the difference in mentioned in the article government of on the differences in American/British vocabulary. If you don't make some kind of note (e.g. "Here, "government" refers to the party in power, not the general form of government") or something, many readers will be totally confused. Revolver 18:57, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

I did that. "Note that this article uses the term government as it is used in Parliamentary systems, i.e. meaning the administration or the cabinet rather than the state." Please check before complaining. I didn't make the (entire) article. Wouter Lievens 19:16, 8 May 2005 (UTC)
Also your America-centric behavior upsets me a bit. You're a minority in the world, you know. Wouter Lievens 19:17, 8 May 2005 (UTC)
Well, I object to my lack of knowledge of this as being described as a "naive American". One reason I stuck to my guns on this one is that no matter how open-minded an American (or non-British world) citizen is, they will find the discussions confusing, because they don't know that they should be looking for a terminology discrepancy. I'm sure I could find plenty of things about American government that Europeans are totally ignorant of. I've heard some pretty silly things said by Europeans on NPR about America, usually based on terminology confusions, but also based on pretty basic misunderstanding of the political system, and I don't think it was because they were naive. Revolver 21:27, 13 August 2005 (UTC)
It just hit me... The term Opposition in Europe has about the same meaning as Minority in the USA, in terms like Minority Leader of the House, etc. Wouter Lievens 19:20, 8 May 2005 (UTC)
That seems accurate. I'm still confused what the actual *activities* of the opposition are. The articles here make it sound as if they don't actually participate in the government (administration), meaning they don't vote, they don't participate in committees, or cabinet meetings, etc. I'm left wondering what the actual day-to-day activities of this "shadow government" are. Do they just huddle in a corner, have their own meetings, speak out in public, but not vote on anything? If they do vote and participate, what is it that they do that makes them "official opposition", assuming that all other parties enjoy the same rights (to vote in legislation, etc.)? Revolver 21:27, 13 August 2005 (UTC)

What is that "... occupation and reoccupation of Treasury Benches..."Edit

Why did the person who labeled it put that line there? It's inappropriate.

It's not only Treasury benches being occupied in transition. It can be any of the seats, especially that of the prime minister. -Pika ten10 (talk) 00:32, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Parliamentary oppositionEdit

The article should be moved to Parliamentary opposition. There is no good reason to set it to "Opposition (parliamentary)". (talk) 23:12, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Assessment commentEdit

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Parliamentary opposition/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Loyal opposition is American. Perhaps we can just have a page for loyal opposition in American history with a link to opposition as a world wide subject. That would be much better than to get rid of loyal opposition altogether. Remember, many students (like me) use Wikipedia for history homework. ( (talk) 05:34, 4 October 2008 (UTC))

Last edited at 05:34, 4 October 2008 (UTC). Substituted at 01:55, 30 April 2016 (UTC)

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