The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy and is a constitutional monarchy which means that the Queen is the official head of state, though in reality, she has little power. The UK political system is made of two houses of parliament which are the house of commons and the house of lords. Unlike in the United States where both houses are elected, in Britain, only the house of Commons is elected while members of the house of lords are appointed by sitting governments. However, a successive government cannot remove people from the lords and therefore the balance between the two major parties remains largely even.

While the UK is a multi-party system, the two major parties are the Conservatives and the Labour Party. The first past the post system means that the party who wins a majority of seats in the house of commons becomes the defacto leader. Therefore the UK generally does not have coalitions. This only happens when no party wins a majority of seats and therefore must seek the support of another party to form a government. This has only occurred once since 1945. In 2010 the Conservatives were the largest party but they did not command a majority and so formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

While most powers are centralized, some issues are devolved to the regional governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Issues such as security and foreign affairs are made in London while matters such as education and the health service can be dealt with on a country by country basis. The Scottish National Party are a dominant political force in Scotland and secured a referendum in 2014 which sought for Scotland to become an independent country. While they lost the referendum by a small margin, there are now renewed calls for another vote after Scotland voted to remain in the EU but will currently have to withdraw as part of the United Kingdom after the Brexit vote in 2016.

Politics in the United Kingdom is currently going through a period of great turbulence. The Labour Party elected a left-wing leader, Jeremy Corbyn, which saw many of his colleagues resign on the basis of a vote of no confidence. However, he was reelected by a landslide and is incredibly popular with the British public and the party saw a large increase in the number of seats they won in the snap election in 2017. The Conservative Party are facing criticism for being old and style are not attracting news member which is causing concern in terms of the sustainability for the party in the future.

The official residence of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is 10 Downing Street in Central London.

Author shawn
Categories Politics