7 -- Part 2: . The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The creation of a two-party system is possible because of Britain's electoral system.
The government has always been operated by one of the two major parties, now Labour versus Conservatives.
The Liberal Democrats held a significant number of seats in the House of Commons and formed part of the governing coalition with Conservatives from 2010 to 2015, while the Scottish Nationalist Party holds thirty-five seats.
Britain's two major parties are competing for control of government.
The Conservatives are the more right-leaning of the two parties.
The internal debate within the party on the proper role of government in the economy can result in factional divisions.
The idea of noblesse oblige is that the upper classes have a responsibility for the care and welfare of those in lower classes.
Margaret Thatcher's economic philosophy of rolling back the welfare state, reducing government controls and regulation, and expanding the role of markets is what the Thatcherite wing believes in.
Thatcherites see European integration as a threat to British sovereignty and tend to be more Euroskeptical than their traditional counterparts.
Labour is the left-leaning party in Britain, while the Conservatives are the right-leaning party.
Most of the principles of the modern welfare state are supported by both parties.
Other parties do not get elected in large numbers.
Conservatives get a lot of their electoral support from England.
Conservative voters have higher incomes and education levels.
Since World War II, the Conservatives have held power in Britain twice as long as the Labour Party, with Boris Johnson currently serving as prime minister.
The Labour Party was founded in 1906 to advance workers' rights in the political sphere.
It has since become one of Britain's two dominant parties.
The Labour Party portrays itself as the defender of the British middle class and working class against a Conservative Party that seeks to make the economic climate more favorable to business and investors, as opposed to "regular" British employees who have seen their wages stagnate despite economic recovery.
English is the main language of Labour's voters.
They have historically won seats in Scotland and Wales and draw most of their support from manufacturing towns.
Labour lost the general election in Scotland to the Conservatives and Ed Miliband resigned as leader.
The new leader of the Party, Jeremy Corbyn, did well in the election.
After the 1920s, the Liberals lost control of government to the Labour Party, despite being the major opposition party to the Conservatives.
There was an opening for a centrist party between the right-wing Thatcherite extremists and the left-wing Labour extremists in the 1980s.
They renamed their parties the Liberal Democratic Party in 1989.
The single-member-district system has made the Liberal Democrats the biggest electoral victim.
Their seats in the House of Commons have never exceeded 10 percent of the total, even though their total share of the vote is often impressive for a third party.
The most vocal advocates of election reform in the United Kingdom are the Liberal Democrats.
After the 2010 elections in which no single party won a parliamentary majority, the Liberal Democrats forged a governing coalition with the Conservatives, and as part of the arrangement, a referendum was staged on changing Britain's election system away from the first-past-the-post system.
Britain's election system remains the same after the referendum was defeated.
The Liberal Democratic Party received only 7.9 percent of the vote in 2015, dropping from fifty-six seats down to only eight, as a result of their cooperation with the Conservatives in many budget austerity measures.
The Independence Party wants a British exit from the European Union.
They currently have the most representation among British parties in the European Parliament, controlling twenty-three of Britain's seventy-three seats, and they won 12.6 percent of the vote in the 2015 general election, though this only translated into control of one seat in the House of Commons.
The leader of the group stepped down after the referendum.
The UK Independence Party received very few votes.
Regional nationalist parties that have never held enough seats to control the central government are competing for seats in the Parliament and often vying for power at the regional level.
The Scottish National Party, which is based in Wales, and Sinn Fein, which is based in Ireland, both oppose Northern Irish union with Britain.
The other regional parties combined to take nineteen of the fifty-six seats in Scotland that the SNP won in the election.
Their vote and seat shares went down.
In Britain, interest groups and other civil society organizations compete for the attention of the state to influence policymaking.
The interests of British citizens are represented by them.
Some of these relate to economic concerns of business leaders in particular industries or trade, or to the interests of laboring class workers employed by those businesses.
Improving the environment, protecting animal rights, alleviating poverty, changing the relationship between Britain and Europe, and revising civil laws regarding fathers' and mothers' rights in divorce and custody disputes are some of the political causes that others relate to.
Modern British interest groups are free to organize in a society that is more pluralistic than Britain was in the early 20th century.
The state's relationship to interest groups is complicated in the case of quasi-autonomous non-governmental organizations.
They receive funding from the state in return for performing functions that are valued by the state.
The Water Services Regulation Authority is an example in Britain.
The divide between the state and private actors is complicated by the fact that Quangos act as advocates for the interests of their organization.
The media in Britain are free to investigate and report on the activities of the government.
The British Broadcasting Corporation was created by the state to provide information to citizens.
Despite being owned and operated by the state, the BBC is more than just a voice for the state.
Ensuring and enhancing fairness in competition among political parties is one of the objectives of British media.
Parties and candidates can't buy airtime to run advertisements.
Television networks in Britain must give equal coverage to all parties in the weeks before a general election, and political communications are only allowed during the general election period, which is six weeks before the election.
Almost everyone in Britain has access to a wide array of information sources in print, broadcast, and digital platforms.
The United Kingdom is an official monarchy.
The monarch still has many ceremonial functions, but she doesn't hold any policymaking authority.
The section on political change in the United Kingdom is based on the history of gradual English reform, highlighted by a few key events such as the English Civil War, the Glorious Revolution, and the Reform Act of 1832.
The role of the monarch these days is limited to presiding over the State Opening of Parliament where she gives a speech outlining the government's agenda in Commons.
The Parliament is the most important political institution in Britain.
The House of Commons is the lower house of the British Parliament.
The House of Commons is the more important of the two in modern British politics.
The 650 members of the House of Commons are directly elected by the people in single-member-district plurality elections.
The candidates don't run from their district of residence, rather they are assigned which constituency to run in by their party leadership.
The Conservative or Labour Party will usually get a majority of seats in the Commons, which will allow them to form a government.
The Scottish National Party won almost all of the seats in Scotland in the most recent election.
If no party gets a majority, parties must form a coalition government.
The leader of the party that won the most seats is expected to be appointed by the monarch as the leader who will have the first chance to form a government.
The majority of political power in Britain is concentrated in the House of Commons.
Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister of the Conservative and Democratic Unionist coalition.
The House of Commons is the most powerful political institution in Britain.
The prime minister and cabinet are chosen by the majority party in the House of Commons.
The leader of the majority party in the Commons is chosen by the House of Commons.
rank and file members of the party who do not hold any significant leadership position or responsibility beyond serving their constituency in the Commons act as backbenchers.
The leaders of the opposition in the front row are representing the shadow cabinet, which is loyal to the state and the regime.
The speaker of the house has been chosen by the other MPs to serve in this role, even though he was elected as an mp.
After being elected, the Speaker ceases his or her party affiliation and serves as a non-partisan moderator of debate in the Commons.
Prime Minister's Questions, or PMQs, is a weekly event where the opposition party, backbenchers, and minor party MPs can submit questions to be answered by the prime minister on a live television broadcast.
transparency and accountability from the government to the people of Britain is an important element of PMQs.
The upper house of Parliament is known as the "upper house" of Parliament, but it does not play a bigger role in modern policymaking.
Due to the gradual reforms of the British constitution over the last three centuries, it has taken a backseat to the Commons.
There isn't a fixed number of members.
The twenty-six "Lords Spiritual" are from the Church of England.
Ninety-two members of the Lords Temporal are hereditary peers because of their family history.
The large majority of the House of Lords used to be composed of hereditary peers, but that number was reduced to ninety-two by the House of Lords Act 1999, one of Tony Blair and Labour's constitutional reforms.
The remaining members are called life peers, as they are appointed by the prime minister to serve for life, without passing the title to their heirs, usually as recognition of lifetime achievement and contribution to the United Kingdom.
The monarch and the House of Lords used to have total political power.
Today, they are mostly ceremonial.
Legislation can only be taken up from the Commons for debate and amendment, which can delay its implementation for up to a year.
The power to amend a bill can be removed by a majority vote in the House of Commons, making it procedural rather than substantive.
The highest court of appeals was a role held by the Law Lords until 2009.
The Constitutional Reform Act of 2005 resulted in the creation of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
Although a peer from the House of Commons will occasionally serve as a minister in the government, their power as a political institution is little more these days than it was in the past.
The leader of the majority party in the House of Commons is chosen by the prime minister and his cabinet.
The functional head of government in the United Kingdom is the prime minister.
He is considered the first among equals with the cabinet.
Given his position as majority party leader, the prime minister exercises a lot of control over the legislation coming out of the Commons.
He is subject to removal by a vote of confidence.
When he presented a controversial issue to the House and lost, he and the rest of the government were expected to resign and call for new elections.
In the past, only the express vote on the question "that this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's government" would result in resignation and new elections.
Any legislation the prime minister recommends is usually passed into law because he or she commands the loyalty of the majority party.
The prime minister exercises many executive powers that are not officially held by the monarch.
The queen is technically the commander in chief, but the prime minister has the power to declare war and oversee the Defense Council.
Much of the prime minister's power comes from his party's loyalty in the House of Commons.
The power of the party to decide which constituency a candidate will run for office from is one of the reasons why party loyalty is strong in the British House of Commons.
The next reelection of those MPs is less likely because they are not required to leave the House of Commons.
It is highly unlikely that a prime minister will fail to get his initiatives passed through the House.
The British cabinet is made up of the prime minister and twenty-two ministers.
The ministers are elected as MPs in the majority party of the House of Commons, though the occasional Lord is included as well.
They are appointed by the prime minister.
All members of the cabinet publicly support the policies of the government under the principle of collective responsibility, even though they don't vote on questions that come before the House of Commons.
Cabinet ministers are responsible for the government's policies.
If a cabinet minister can't support a policy of the prime minister, they will resign their post or be sacked by the prime minister.
Cabinet ministers are usually under the control of the bureaucrats they are supposed to oversee.
The cabinet members do not usually have technical expertise in the government ministry they are charged with leading.
The career bureaucrats who work under the ministers often give direction to the ministers themselves.
Ministers rely on the top bureaucrats for advice.
Bureaucrats are powerful in Britain.
Most bureaucrats stay in their departments for decades.
As their political careers progress and decline, the cabinet ministers who oversee them come and go.
Career bureaucrats develop policy expertise that their "superiors" in the cabinet don't have.
Many bureaucrats have discretionary power to decide how a particular law or executive branch policy is to be implemented.
The British bureaucracy is made up of a piece of quinchos.
There are 766 quangos in Britain.
These bodies are held "at arm's length" from the government and ministerial agencies, receiving financial support and bureaucratic authority from the government, while at the same time retaining political independence apart from the government in their decision making.
The judiciary of the United Kingdom is not unified.
The judicial systems in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have their own legal authority.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is able to take appeals from the entire United Kingdom.
Britain's common-law systems place a lot of importance on precedent and consistency in the interpretation of law, giving judges more interpretive power.
There is a reputation for independence and legal competence for judges in the United Kingdom.
Few ever serve as MPs or in other political offices, and they are not active in party politics.
Most were educated at Oxford, Cambridge, and highly prestigious British public schools, which is the term for elite, independent academic institutions one must pay fees to attend.
Judges are usually expected to retire at the age of seventy-five.
The United Kingdom has a common-law legal system.
Common law is defined by adherence to precedent.
The way the law is applied in the future should be the way courts have applied the law in the past.
Many practical laws for how property is transferred, rights of workers, who own a patent, and so on, are not written down in an act of the legislature, but come from historical court decisions and case precedents that create the basis of the legal system.
Code-law systems attempt to write the answers to legal questions into a set of legislative codes to form the basis of the legal system.
Most code-law systems come from states that don't have a long history of precedent to draw common law from.
Most legal questions in longstanding case precedent have already been decided by Britain.
The traditional judicial functions of the courts in the United Kingdom include trials for criminal and civil cases.
They don't usually exercise judicial review in the same way that courts in other liberal democracies do.
The idea of parliamentary sovereignty is that the final authority should rest with the elected House of Commons, rather than unelected officials in the judiciary.
When the courts rule on constitutionality or whether acts of Parliament violate British common law, they do so on a very limited basis, rather than through sweeping, activist declarations that change policy.
While it was a member of the European Union, Britain was bound by the EU's treaties and laws, and it was incumbent upon the courts to decide when acts of Parliament did not comply with the laws of the EU.
The United Kingdom's Supreme Court was given the power to rule on the constitutionality of acts of Parliament in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Supreme Court was created in 2005 to replace the Law Lords, who acted as the highest appellate court.
Many of Britain's current public policy concerns are in line with those of most liberal democracies, such as concerns about the aging population and funding the welfare state's obligations.
Britain's history and political culture are unique.
These are some of the most significant policy debates of recent decades.
The welfare state was established after World War II by the Labour government under Clement Atlee.
The creation of the National Health Service centralized all health care provision into a single-payer system with the government providing access to all citizens free of charge.
The operation of state-owned enterprises nationalized during the collectivist consensus was financed by progressive taxation.
Many developed countries face the same problems as Britain.
Older people need more medical attention than younger people, and life expectancy is getting higher as the baby-boom generation reaches old age.
Budget problems for the state and long wait times for diagnosis and care are caused by this strain on the system.
Many Conservatives have proposed reforms to add market-based elements into the system, or shift some of the cost burden away from the state and onto those using medical services, but these reforms often face stiff political resistance.
In Britain, tuition is heavily subsidized by the state.
University students were not charged tuition until 1998.
Demands by the universities for access to more funding combined with a lack of available money except through new taxes led the Labour government to allow universities to charge up to PS1000 in 1998.
The higher education system is supposed to be expanded by these additional funds paid for by students, but many fear that the costs will push higher education out of reach for many middle-class British students.
The European Community was the subject of intense debate in Britain.
The British have always been resistant to integration from the people of other European countries because they see themselves as distinct and different from continental Europe.
There are two distinctions Britain negotiated in its EU membership.
The Euro is not a valid legal currency in Britain because they joined the EU without joining the EMU.
Many business interests of the Conservative Party support integration for trade benefits, while the populist right wing of the party oppose any further integration with Europe and supported the referendum to leave the EU.
The European Union requires freedom of movement across state borders for European citizens to live, work, travel, and retire wherever they please, but Britain was allowed to restrict immigration and travel into itself.
When the Schengen Agreement was being negotiated, Britain was given a full opt-out in order to keep its membership in the European Union.
After the Independence Party became a major political force, many British citizens wanted to withdraw from the EU altogether, and David Cameron approved a referendum on the question of Britain's continued membership in the EU.
Fifty-two percent of the British voted to leave the EU.
The prime minister resigned.
Less than two decades ago, the issue of terrorism in Britain was limited to the activities of the Irish Republican Army and other anti-Unionist forces in Northern Ireland.
The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 led to the cessation of hostilities and the creation of the Northern Ireland Assembly, as well as other regional parliaments.
Britain is much more concerned with the threat of Islamic extremism today than it was in the past.
In 2005, four British suicide bombers attacked the London transit system, killing 56 people.
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A suicide bomber killed 22 people at the Manchester Arena as people were leaving a concert.
Terrorist attacks were attempted but failed in the past.
British policymakers have tried to deal with this problem with new security measures and an educational program designed to discourage young Muslims from using violence.
Muslims were being "singled-out" as potential perpetrators by a society that aspires to treat everyone equally before the law.
It is difficult to balance security with an inclusive society in modern Britain.
Scottish nationalists have been pushing for independence due to the fact that the decision to give many powers to local parliaments made it more realistic for Scotland to govern itself.
In the general election of 2015, the Scottish National Party won fifty-six of fifty-eight seats in the House of Commons from Scotland.
The referendum on the United Kingdom's membership in the European Union renewed questions of Scotland's future in the United Kingdom.
Depending on how Britain's negotiations proceed, Scotland may one day consider independence in order to continue its relationship with the EU.
The terms that appear on the AP Comparative Government and Politics exam are tested.