|British system of government
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The British system of government is the oldest parliamentary democracy in Europe. British parliament was formed in the eleventh century and, after the signing of the Magna Charta by King John in the year 1215, it came to power and became the main part in the system of government. In this way, England set up the base of democracy in the whole Europe.
Britain is a constitutional monarchy: Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state. In practice she reigns, but does not rule. The country is governed, in her name, by the Government, a body of ministers, which is called the Cabinet (consists of 22 leading ministers), who are responsible to Parliament.
Queen Elizabeth II was born on 21 April 1926. She married Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh and acceded to the throne on 6 February 1953. Her official title is:
“Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”
But the title is varied for those other member states of the Commonwealth (16 in number), to suit the particular circumstances of each. Other member states are republics or have their own monarchies.
The seat of monarchy is in Great Britain. In the other nations of the Commonwealth of which the Queen is head of State, her representative is the Governor-General.
The Queen’s eldest son- Prince Charles, Prince of Wales- is the heir to the throne.
Britain’s origins and traditions are to be found in its four countries (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland). They are represented in the Parliament at Westminster (London), which is the supreme legislative authority in the country.
The Parliament consists of the Sovereign, the House of Lords and House of Commons.
The Sovereign formally summons and dissolves Parliament and generally opens each new annual session with a speech from the throne. The House of Lords is made up of hereditary peers and peeresses, including the law lords appointed to undertake the judicial duties of the House, and the Lords Spiritual (the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and other 24 bishops). The House of Commons is elected by universal adult suffrage and consists of 650 Members of Parliament (MPs). There are approximately 650 seats for them. The chief officer of the House is the Speaker, elected by MPs to preside over the house. It is in the House of Commons that the ultimate authority for lawmaking resides.
A general election must be held every five years. Eighteen is the minimum voting age; candidates for election must be over 21. There are four main political parties: Conservative, Labour, Liberal and Social Democratic parties. The winning party forms the Government. Ministers are chosen by the Prime Minister (leader of winning party). The second party becomes official Opposition and forms the Shadow-Cabinet. MPs who are members of the Opposition are called back-benchers.
The British constitution, unlike that of most of other countries, is not written as a single document. It is formed partly by statute, partly by common law and partly by convention. It can be altered by an Act of Parliament, or by general agreement to change convention.
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