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STATE AND POLITICAL SYSTEM OF THE UK




United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy*. This means that it has a hereditary monarch (a king/queen) as its Head of State, but essentially the powers of the monarch are ceremonial and he/she can only reign with the support of Parliament**. Among the official functions of the King/Queen are the following:

· to appoint the Prime Minister at the end of the election (normally the leader of the party that has the majority in the House of Commons);

· to summon, prorogue and dissolve the Parliament;

· to enact legislation; to give his/her Royal Assent to bills when they’ve been passed by both Houses;

· to declare war/make peace;

· to recognize foreign states and governments;

· to conclude treaties;

· to annex/cede territories;

· to be the head of judiciary (all the courts of the land are the King’s/Queen’s courts; all the trials are carried out in the King’s/Queen’s name);

· to be the Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces;

· to be the “supreme governor” of the established Church of England;

· to make formal appointments to the most important offices of the state in the Armed Forces and churches;

· to confer peerages, knighthoods and other honours;

· to make formal approvals to decisions of the Government at the meetings of the Privy Council;

· to be the King/Queen of 16 former colonies, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, represented by the governor; to be the Head of the Commonwealth.

Important symbolic roles of the King/Queen are to preserve the unity of the nation, historical traditions and continuity; to be the Defender of the Faith (only Anglicans can succeed to the throne***); to be the Spiritual head of state.

UK Constitutionis uncodified (unwritten) consisting of historic documents such as the Magna Carta****, the Petition of Right, and the Bill of Rights (1689); statutes, judicial precedents (common law), and custom. The constitution is flexible and may be changed by an act of Parliament.

There are three branches of power in UK:

1) the executive power (exercised by the government);

2) the legislative power (vested in both the government and the parliament);

3) the judicial power (exercised by the system of courts).

There is no strict separation of powers of these three arms of government (in contrast to the United States). So, for example, all Ministers in the government are members of the legislature;


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