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Presentation Outline. II. Political Institutions The Executive Branch The Legislative Branch The Judicial Branch Electoral System Party System. II. a) The Executive Branch. The Head of State: The Monarch The Head of Government: The Prime Minister The Cabinet The Bureaucracy.

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Presentation Outline

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  1. Presentation Outline II. Political Institutions • The Executive Branch • The Legislative Branch • The Judicial Branch • Electoral System • Party System

  2. II. a) The Executive Branch • The Head of State: The Monarch • The Head of Government: The Prime Minister • The Cabinet • The Bureaucracy

  3. The Monarch- Head of State • a hereditary constitutional monarchy (House of Windsor) • As head of state she invites the winner of the general election to form a government in her name • She signs all bills into law (royal assent) • Officially appoints Cabinet Members, Judges, and Peers to the House of Lords • She advises the government and ensures that it follows the unwritten constitution and traditions Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

  4. The Speech from The Throne

  5. The Prime Minister- Head of Government He was elected leader of the Conservative Party by its members He is the leader of the largest party in Parliament (currently in a coalition) He initiates and proposes government policy He nominates Cabinet Ministers, Judges, and Peers to the House of Lords He is accountable to Parliament and to his Party but NOT directly to the British people The Right Honourable, David Cameron

  6. The Cabinet • Appointed from the government party • Nearly all members are also sitting MPs in the House of Commons; a few are appointed from the Lords • Head and lead government departments • Must publicly support government policy (Cabinet solidarity) • Draft and propose legislation Prime Minister Cameron and his Cabinet

  7. The Bureaucracy • The British civil service administers government policy • appointed by the government • career civil servants • They are recruited from the top universities (Cambridge +Oxford) • The Cabinet relies on the civil service to provide expertise: write legislation, suggest policy proposals http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/

  8. II. b) The Legislative Branch House of Commons Parliament Bicameral Legislature Has supreme lawmaking authority House of Lords

  9. The House of Commons • 650 elected members • Each Member of Parliament (MP) represents a single district (constituency) • Representation by population • Debate policy • Vote on Bills • Party discipline • Confidence Vote • Question Period

  10. Official Opposition Coalition Government

  11. Confidence Vote 1979 Confidence vote which defeated the Prime Minister Callaghan’s Labour Government. In the resulting general election Thatcher’s Conservatives won a majority. • The Government MUST have the confidence of the House to govern at all times • The Government can be defeated if a motion of confidence passes, meaning that more than half the MPs in the Commons have withdrawn their support from the government

  12. Question Period • This period allows the Opposition parties to challenge the Prime Minister and Cabinet directly on policy • This ensures a great deal of transparency as Question Period is shown on public television state-wide

  13. House of Lords 788 members All but 92 members are appointed 92 Hereditary Peers Represents the upper or ruling class (not regions) Regularly amends and improves bills from the Commons Can delay passage of bills Constitutional safeguard Normally does not reject bills

  14. 1997 House of Lords Act • Blair’s government reformed the Lords by eliminating all but 92/788 hereditary peers • Now nearly all lords are nominated by the Prime Minister and appointed by the monarch • Originally all lords were hereditary peers

  15. UK Government VennWhere do the following positions go? Monarch Prime Minister Cabinet MP Lord Shadow Cabinet Leader of the Official Opposition Speaker Civil Servant Legislative Branch Executive Branch

  16. II. C) Judicial Branch • Nominated by the Prime Minster • Guided by British Common Law (precedents) • No constitutional authority to exercise judicial review (parliament is supreme!) • House of Lords was prior to 2009 the highest court of appeal

  17. The U.K. Supreme Court • Established in 2009 • Highest court of last resort (appeal) in the UK • Resolves legal disputes between the devolved assemblies and the UK Parliament • No authority to exercise judicial review

  18. II. d) The Electoral System • The House of Commons elects members using a single-member district plurality system (SMD) • According to tradition, elections are called by the Prime Minister at any time within a five year period • The devolved assemblies and parliaments use mixed SMD and PR

  19. UK constituencies 2010 Election Legend: Blue- Conservative Orange/Yellow- Liberal Democrat Red- Labour Bright Yellow-Scottish National Party Light Green- Plaid Cymru (Wales)

  20. 2010 General Election Results *Based on a 650 seat House of Commons 326 seats needed to form a majority government

  21. What are the PROS and CONS of the SMD system for the UK?

  22. EU Parliamentary Elections • Every 5 years on fixed election dates, UK citizens elect 72 members to the EU Parliament in Brussels • Unlike UK national elections, elections are conducted using the Proportional Representation system (PR) • Voter turnout for these elections is generally much lower than for regional or national elections

  23. II. e) The Party System • The UK has a multi-party system • However, because of the SMD electoral system it has tended more towards a two-party – catch-all system • each party nominates candidates to stand in the general election • Major parties run candidates in all constituencies (with the exception of N.Ireland which has its own parties

  24. UK Parties Major Catch-all parties • Conservative Party • Labour Party Smaller Parties: Liberal Democrats British National Party Scottish National Party (Scotland only) Plaid Cymru (Wales only)

  25. General placement of ideologies on simple political spectrum Communist Left-Wing Centrist Right-Wing Fascist

  26. Historical shifts in parties’ ideologies

  27. Discussion Questions • 1) Why is Question Period fundamental to British parliamentary democracy? • 2) In what respects does the UK have a democratic deficit? • 3) Is the UK system of parliamentary democracy suited to the 21st century? • 4) What aspects of the British parliamentary system act as democratic safeguards?

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