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Comparing Westminster$
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R. A. W. Rhodes, John Wanna, and Patrick Weller

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199563494

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563494.001.0001

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Comparing Westminster

R. A. W. Rhodes (Contributor Webpage)

John Wanna (Contributor Webpage)

Patrick Weller (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This book explores how governmental elites understand the Westminster systems of Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. It seeks to understand how and why countries that began with some shared meanings subsequently developed different beliefs and practices. It shows how transplanted constitutional and governmental ideas interacted with local political traditions and local elites to provide the present-day forms of government. This chapter does basic groundwork. It reviews the various definitions of Westminster in the political science literature. It sets out our definition with its focus on four interrelated features of Westminster systems as the starting point: centralization in collective, responsible cabinet government; ministerial and collective responsibility; the role of a professional, non-partisan public service; and parliament's relationship to the executive. The chapter adopts a ‘most similar’ research design and defend this approach by outlining the origins of the five ‘great self-governing dominions’. Finally, the chapter provides a summary of the rest of the book.

Keywords:   Westminster model, meaning, traditions, dominions, forms of government, public service, parliaments, elites

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