Democracy has been in action in the US and UK over the past two days with widely differing results.
President Donald Trump has hit the headlines with executive orders reversing trade treaties law changes over immigration and terrorism.
While in the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May lost to a legal challenge in the Supreme Court which ruled she did not have the power under the royal prerogative to invoke the process to start Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Behind the rhetoric, the incidents underlined the difference between politics in the USA and UK.
Trump has the ultimate power. He can sign off an executive order that has the power of law that bypasses Congress and there’s little anyone can do about it.
Congress cannot approve or reject an executive order. At worst, the house can vote not to fund the order, but the president can overturn that ruling as well.
The only way to stop an executive order is for the president to rescind the instruction or for a new president to do so when entering office.
Since 1789, presidents have made more than 13,000 executive orders and only two have lost to rulings by the US Supreme Court.
In Britain, Parliament has the ultimate power, not the prime minister and this right was upheld by the UK Supreme Court.
When a US president and British prime minister sit face to face across the negotiating table, the big difference is the president can make decisions that do not need the approval of the elected house, while the prime minister always has the break of Parliamentary scrutiny on her actions.
Balance of power
This fundamental difference in who holds the balance of power in each country gives the president a slight advantage, because what he says goes.
In Britain, the prime minister must put a bill for debate before MPs and the Lords and the bill only becomes law after passing through Parliament.
The prime minister can agree in principle, but the final decision is Parliament’s to make.
Another reason for the abyss between US and UK politics is Britain never had a revolution to replace the head of state with an executive power.