Conflict or consensus.
Parliaments following the British tradition seat MPs on | opposite
sides of a central aisle. They are separated, tradition says, by a
distance equivalent to at least two sword lengths. This places MPs of
differing political views directly opposite each other; face-to-face confrontation is enhanced by the physical layout. Most other parliaments
are arranged in a half circle (the U.S. Senate and Israel's Knesset are examples), a configuration that's supposed to generate greater
cooperation. However, American and Israeli legislators still get hot
tempered during political debate. Some Parliament watchers think that
removing conflict would improve the legislative process. But, does
consensual politics make for better government? A 1993 survey that found
44% of Canadians feeling positive about Parliament, found only 23% of
Germans, where consensus politics is common, feeling the same way.