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UK political system

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarch, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. The branches of government are: Parliament, the executive and the judiciary. The legislature, Parliament, is the supreme authority. It comprises 2 chambers - the House of Lords and House of Commons - together with the Queen in her constitutional role.

The executive consists of the central Government - the Prime Minister and Cabinet and other ministers who are responsible for initiating and directing the national policy, government departments, local authorities, and public corporations. The judiciary determines common law and interprets status and is independent of both the legislature and executive.

The Government derives its authority from the elected House of Commons. A general election for all seats in the House of Commons must be help every 5 years. The Government is normally formed by the political party which is supported by the majority in the House of Commons. The Party's leader is appointed Prime Minister by the Queen. He chooses a team of ministers of whom 20 or so are in the Cabinet. The second largest party becomes the official opposition with its own leader and Shadow Cabinet. The House of Commons comprises members from the constituencies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who represent people whose history and traditions differ. The House of Lords is a hereditory Chamber.

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