Whip (politics)

In politics, a whip is a member of a political party in a legislature whose task is to ensure that members of the party attend and vote as the party leadership desires. The term originated in the Parliament of the United Kingdom and derives from the "whipper-in" at a fox hunt. Whip is also used to mean the voting instructions issued to members by the Whip.

Whip in British politics

The Government Chief Whip in the House of Commons is assisted by the Deputy Chief Whip, Whips, and Assistant Whips. To provide a seat in the Cabinet, the Chief Whip is usually appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury. The other senior government Whips are also given offices in the Government: the Deputy Chief Whip as Treasurer of HM (Her Majesty's) Household, the next two Whips are Comptroller of HM Household and Vice-Chamberlain of HM Household, and the remaining Whips are Lords Commissioners of the Treasury. (Assistant Whips, and, of course, Whips of other parties, generally do not receive such appointments.)

A similar arrangement exists for Whips in the House of Lords. The Government Chief Whip is usually appointed Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms, while the Deputy Chief Whip is usually appointed Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard. Other Whips, who are fewer in number due to the decreased importance of party discipline in the Lords, are appointed Lords in Waiting if men and Baronesses in Waiting if women.

In the UK Parliament the importance of a vote is indicated by underlining of items on the whip paper. A "one-line whip" indicates that MPs may vote as they please. "Two-line whips" indicate an expectation that MPs vote as the party directs. Pairing (the practice whereby a member of one party chooses to not vote because a member of the opposite party will also be absent, essentially nullifying the effect of the absence) is allowed. "Three-line whips" are reserved for the most important matters; MPs must attend and vote with their party, and no form of pairing is allowed. Disregarding a "three-line whip," even by failing to attend the session, is a serious matter and may result in "withdrawal of the whip", which is a form of expulsion from the party.

The whips although superficially dictatorial, act as communicators between the backbenchers and the party leadership, and if backbenchers are unhappy with the leaderships' position may use the threat to revolt to force the leadership to compromise.

The whip was first introduced to British politics by the Irish Parliamentary Party, under Charles Stewart Parnell.

Whip in United States politics

Both houses of Congress, the House of Representatives and Senate, have majority and minority whips. They in turn have subordinate 'regional' whips.

In the Senate, the Majority Whip is the second highest-ranking individual in the majority party (the party with the greater number of legislators in a legislative body), outranked only by the Majority Leader. However, in the House the Majority Whip is outranked by both the Majority Leader and the Speaker.

In both houses the Minority Whip is the second highest-ranking individual in the minority party (the party with the lesser number of legislators in a legislative body), outranked only by the Minority Leader.

The current Senate Majority Whip is Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who reports to the current Senate Majority Leader, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee.

The current Senate Minority Whip is Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, who reports to the current Senate Minority Leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.

The current House Majority Whip is Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, who reports to the current House Majority Leader, Representative Thomas D. DeLay of Texas.

The current House Minority Whip in the House is Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who reports to the current House Minority Leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California.da:Indpisker de:Whip sv:Whip


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