Learn about the political system of the UK in brief
The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy. This means that while a monarch is the head of state, he/she is not the head of government. Most of the decisions about how the government is run are made by the Prime Minister, or PM.
The English monarchy used to have absolute power, but that was a long time ago – over 800 years in fact. 2015 was the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, or the Great Charter. This document spelled out the rights and responsibilities of King John of England and the ruling class in 1215. The Magna Carta is regarded as the first statement of citizen rights in the world.
The Bill of Rights on 1689 – which is still in effect – lays down limits on the powers of the crown and sets out the rights of Parliament and rules for freedom of speech in Parliament, the requirement for regular elections to Parliament, and the right to petition the monarch without fear of retribution.
The UK’s government has three basic types of power: legislative, executive, and judiciary.
Legislative power is the power to make new laws or remove old ones. This power is held by Parliament, which is made up of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and the Northern Irish Assembly also have legislative powers; however, they do not have as much authority as Parliament.
Executive power – the power to implement and enforce laws – is controlled by the British government, which works on behalf of the Queen, as well as the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales and the Northern Ireland Executive.
Judiciary power, which is the power to prosecute those who break the law. The highest court in the UK is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
People vote in elections for Members of Parliament (MPs) to represent them. The party that gets the most seats in Parliament forms the Government.
There are lots of political parties in the UK, but the big ones are:
- The Conservative Party. The Conservatives are “right wing,” or conservative. They typically believe that business shouldn’t be regulated and that we should all look after ourselves.
- The Labour Party. Labour are “left wing,” or liberal. People who are left wing believe that the state should support those who cannot support themselves.
- The Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems, as they’re called, fall between the Conservatives and Labour. Even though they have “liberal” in their name they are really a mix of liberal and conservative.
- Scottish National Party. The SNP is left wing and Scotland is, politically-speaking, more liberal than England.
Members of the UK Parliament are elected in general elections, which typically take place every five years.
Speak about the United Kingdom political system briefly, will you?