Great Britain is a parliamentary monarchy.
The King or the Queen is at the head of the state but does not play an important part in the political life of the country.
The Queen has powers that can surprise many. She can choose a Prime Minister, dissolve Parliament and declare war like an absolute monarch. But in reality, she does not have these powers and acts under the tradition on the advice of Parliament.
The British monarch has served both the Empire and the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth is the head of state not only of one small island nation, but also of the 53 nations of the Commonwealth, with the population of 1.8 billion.
The Queen’s powers are limited by Parliament. It consists of two chambers: the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The House of Lords has inherited (наследственные) members and the House of Commons has elected members. The House of Commons is the main law-making body of the United Kingdom. It is here that new bills are introduced and debated.
The House of Lords has more than 1,000 members, although only about 250 take an active part in the work of the House. The chairman of the House of Lords is the Lord Chancellor, who sits on the Woolsack.
The House of Commons is made up of 650 elected members, known as Members of Parliament, or MPs. The House of Commons is presided over by the Speaker.
The Government is formed by the Prime Minister usually the leader of the party that has the majority in the House of Commons. He is appointed by the queen. Prime Ministers hold Cabinet meetings at their house at number 10 Downing Street, which is very near the Houses of Parliament. The second largest party becomes the official opposition with its own leader and the Shadow Cabinet.
The highest executive power is the Cabinet. It consists of 20 ministers and the Prime Minister. The country is ruled by the Government in the name of Queen.
The judiciary branch of the government determines common law and is independent of both the legislative and the executive branches. There is no written Constitution in Great Britain, only precedents and traditions.
At present there are 3 main political parties in the country: the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the Labour Party. The Conservative Party and the Liberal Party were founded in the middle of the 19th century and were supported by the rich people. The Labour Party was founded by the Trade Union Congress at the beginning of the 20th century. While many Labour voters are middle-class or intellectuals, the traditional Labour Party support is still strongest in industrial areas.
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