Westminster and democracy


Sir, – I suspect Sean O’Sullivan (January 4th) has misunderstood Dennis Kennedy’s description of Westminster as the “model for parliaments around the world” (“Referendum need not be the last word on Brexit”, Opinion & Analysis, January 3rd).

The word “model” in this context means “template”, rather than “ideal”. The Westminster system of government has a number of distinguishing features, including a house of parliament that nominates a prime minister and has the power to prompt the dismissal of the government at any time.

It is a simple fact that a large number of parliaments around the world have been modelled on Westminster – a total of 33 countries around the world still use this system, and the vast majority were formerly part of the British Empire.

While I share Mr O’Sullivan’s dim view of the UK’s electoral system, it is important to note that the Westminster system of government is not tied to any particular electoral system. For example, both Ireland and Australia operate very different electoral systems in tandem with the Westminster system of government. – Yours, etc,