Political Issues- US and UK

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    Jan 23, 2013
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The constitution is supreme Law in the US. State and local Laws have to conform to it. Acts of Congress signed by the president must also conform to it. The constitution defines the Law of the US government and it establishes the US federal system of government. It established three branches of government:

  1. The Legislative branch (congress and support agencies)
  2. Executive branch (the President and executive bureaucracy)
  3. Judical branch (the US Supreme Court and other federal courts)


It is legal document which protects the basic rights of the US citizens. It guarantees to the people certain civil liberties and rights. These liberties and rights are written in the Bill of Rights.

UK can be said to have a constitutional system without constitution because it has not written constitution contained in one document. The constitution has several elements. There are statue Law (Acts of Parliament); common Law or judge made Law; conventions and some ancient documents like Magna Carta. Most of these elements are in written form and they are flexible enough to respond quickly to new conditions.Contemporary Britain has “multi level governance” model. It is often described as a constitutional monarchy. Royal executive power no longer exists. However the monarch is still formally the head of state, head of executive, judiciary and legislature, “supreme governor” of the Church of England and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The queen has three constitutional rights: to be kept informed to advise and to warn. The queen still posses the power to choose and appoint UK Prime Minister. The monarch assumes neutral political position, but the Prime Minister is the most important person in UK politics.

The British Prime Minister is the political leader of the UK and he has a great influence on the political party from which his power comes. He is the head of the majority party in parliament and this party always gives him support and loyalty. On the other hand US president has no direct links with his party. However the US president has the position of supremacy in domestic politics. The president nominates the highest officials in the executive branch. He nominates the secretaries and assistant services who lead the departments. The UK Prime Minister also selects the politicians he will work most closely with. The president has to fight to achieve support. Loyalty is not guaranteed in the US system. The US president has more power when it comes to foreign policy. The constitution gives him the role of the foreign policy dictator. In terms of domestic policy the UK Prime Minister has more important role. The Prime Minister and the president are both the head of policy implementation within their countries. While in the UK the prime minister shares his power with his cabinet, the president in the US does not.

In the US electing the president is very complicated, long and expensive affair. During the presidential election year, the state is narrowing the field of candidates. Party voters choose delegates and give them the authority to make its official nomination of candidates. Party voters choose delegates and give them the authority to make its official nomination of candidate. The parties and their candidates face each other in the post-convention campaign. Candidates travel all over the country to make themselves and their opinions known. Television plays important role in the media battle of presidential elections. Americans watch public debates which are televised all over the country. On Election Day television networks track two different tallies of the results. “Popular vote” is a count of how many people across the country have supported the candidates. The other is “electoral-college vote”. Each state has a number of votes in the college equal to its members in congress. The popular vote is not counted nationally, but by state. The plurality system has its most dramatic effects in the electoral-college vote. If the candidate wins a state, he gets all the votes in the college. In such a system the majority of voters do not want to “waste” their votes on smaller parties candidates. They almost never win whole states and votes in the college. However, the third-party candidates, who win the small numbers of votes within states, sometimes can determine the result of the whole national contest.

UK parliament has a maximum duration of five years, except in emergency situations. However it is often dissolved earlier. New elections are ordered by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister. The house of lords consists of lords temporal and lords spiritual. Lords of spiritual are the archbishops of York and Canterbury of England. Lords temporal are 92 peers and peeresses which hereditary titles and about 577 life peers and peeresses. The members of the House of Lords are appointed by political parties and an independent appointment commission and by the lords of appeal. The House of Commons has 646 members. They are chosen from all parts of the UK and they represent citizens in parliament. They are elected by voters (from age 18). Voting is not compulsory in Britain. The two big parties (Labour and Conservative) have a greater chance of achieving power and British electoral system is unfair to smaller parties. Each elector casts one vote and the candidate who wins the most votes in a constituency is elected MP for the area. This system is “the simple majority” or the “first past the post’ system. The party which wins most seats in the House of Commons usually forms the new government. The party must have more than 33 per cent of the popular vote before winning a large number of seats. It must also approach 40 per cent in order to form a government with an overall majority. Minority parties which do not reach the percentage above and whose support is scattered, do not gain many seats in commons. This system is undemocratic towards them because election success often depends on whether support is concentrated in geographical areas. This system suits two major parties, but it does not reflect the popular vote.



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