U.K. and U.S. Government System

The United States is a Republic government and the British government is a constitutional monarchy.

The constitutions are quite different. The United States of America has a singular document called The Constitution of the United States of America. The United Kingdom has no such document. The most famous governmental document is the Magna Carta. The charter contains sixty two chapters, which list the rights of and the privileges of the upper class during that time. The U.S. constitution is difficult to change. The U.S. Bill of Rights was created to add amendments to the constitution rather than change the document itself. In contrast the British constitution (i.e. Acts of Parliament) can be changed by the passage of legislation.

US Constitution, pg1 post treatment

(Constitution of the United State)


(Bill of Rights)


(Magna Carta)

The U.S. constitution has a strict separation of powers and includes the process of “checks and balances”. The powers are the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary in the American system. The British system has the Cabinet, House of Lords and Commons, and the legal system, respectively.

In each branch there a quite a few minute differences. In the executive branch, while the positions of the President and the Prime Minister sound the same, they are not. The President is directly elected through the Electoral College. The Prime Minister holds office only as long as they hold the majority of votes from the House of Commons. This would almost be comparable to members of the Congress and their party lines deciding the president. It can be argued that a prime minister holds more power than a president does – while a president may have incredible oversight, they are hobbled by the aforementioned checks and balances worked into the system. The prime minister in Britain not only heads the government but also has the majority seats in the House of Commons while they do so.

The Judicial system is much more politically motivated in America. In Great Britain there are currently three parties with a significant amount of power: Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat. Currently the Lib Dems and the Conservatives have created a “coalition government”. This is due to the Conservatives not having a majority in 2010, so they worked about a compromise with the Lib Dems. The current PM is a Conservative and the Deputy PM is a Lib Dem. The American government is a heavy two party system (Democrat and Republican). The length of elections are vastly different- the American presidential election lasts about two years after the general primaries while the PM election lasts a manner of weeks.

Legislative choices are always important and vary wildly. In England there are three separate parts: the Crown held by the monarch, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. Together the Houses create the Parliament. The monarchy has been steadily losing power for about three hundred years. Currently, their purpose is to convene and dissolve Parliament and represent the unity of the country. For example, there is no State of the Union address but rather a Queen’s Speech. Like the monarchy, the House of Lords has decreased over time. The term is almost literal- the House is for those of title (earl, duke, marques, etc), bishops, and life peers. Their role used to be the highest court of appeal. It does a tonne of committee work – it examines/revises legislation proposed to the House of Commons and can also delay the enactment of a law from a public bill for the length of one year. The House of Commons does a fair bit as well. They discuss pending legislation and issues and are responsible for voting on bills put forward by the government or a member of the Commons. Both houses are very large- the House of Lords was roughly 800, but has been whittled to only 92. The House of Commons hosts 650 members. There are 112 ministers as well (made up of the PM, the Cabinet, and 100 other persons). The U.S. Congress is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives number at 435 and this is taken from each states’ population. The Senate has two members per state. There are three kinds of power Congress has; congressional, enumerated, and implied. Congress’ role is authority over financial matters, matters of and pertaining to war, and passing laws. Unlike Parliament, Congress is not reasonable for higher courts and voting for the President (the United States has the Supreme Court and the Electoral College, respectively).

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