Systems of government in the English speaking world



Otázka: Systems of government in the English speaking world

Jazyk: Angličtina

Přidal(a): Veronika S.




  • =a form of government in which the people have the authority to choose their governing legislation/ the rule of majority, fundamental principles formulated in a constitution
  • two types of democracy:
    • representative democracy
      • people elect representatives who make decisions
      • parliamentary democracy (UK)
      • presidential democracy (US)
    • direct democracy (Switzerland)
      • referendums are held on virtually anything – people directly decide about the public matters


Division of power – checks and balances

  • the political power is separated into 3 branches, the system is set to prevent any of the branches from usurping too much power (part of the US Constitution):
    • legislative power – makes laws (can impeach the president or judges)
    • executive power – executes and enforces the law (can veto legislation and nominate judges)
    • judicial power – interprets and applies the laws (can declare laws or presidential acts as unconstitutional)



  • elections in the UK
    • held on Thursday
    • House of Commons – elections held every 5 years
    • the candidate who received the most votes in a particular area (each constituency has the same population) – becomes the MP (Member of Parliament)
    • voting age=18 years, voter turnout typically not over 80%
    • parties:
      • the two main rivals in the elections – the Conservative Party (right-wing,; currently holds the majority of the seats) + the Labour Party (left-wing)
      • (+ the Scottish National Party + the Liberal Democratic Party – other two parties that are considerably represented in the House of Commons)
  • elections in the US
    • held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November
    • presidential – held every 4 years; Senate – every 6 years; House of Repr. – every 2 years
    • voting age=18 years, voter turnout typically not over 80%
    • parties:
      • the Republican Party (right-wing) + the Democratic Party (left-wing) (other parties virtually nonexistent)


Parliamentary vs. presidential systems

  • The United Kingdom – parliamentary democracy + constitutional monarchy
    • division of powers:
      • legislative – Parliament (resides in the Palace of Westminster)
        • House of Lords – the upper house
          • not elected, the number of members not fixed, debates laws (minimal influence today – cannot reject laws passed by the MPs)
          • (has undergone important changes recently – the number of hereditary peers was reduced; the rest are life peers – nominated by the Queen – they hold their position but cannot pass the title down to their children)
        • House of Commons – the lower house
          • elected, 650 MPs, makes laws + controls government’s finances
          • (the job of MP was unpaid until the 20th century so only rich people could afford it)
      • executive – British government (=cabinet) + the monarch
        • prime minister = the leader of the government, lives at 10 Downing Street
        • monarch = head of the state + commander-in-chief of the armed forces + head of the church of England + head of the Commonwealth x  mostly a representative role – she has no real political power, resides in the Buckingham Palace
      • judicial – the Supreme Court
  • Ireland, Canada, Australia – parliamentary democracies
    • Ireland – head of the state = president
    • Canada+Australia – head of the state = the British monarch – has no political power
  • The United States – presidential democracy + federal republic
    • division of powers:
      • each of the 50 states has a significant degree of autonomy (their own government + independent legislation in some matters x  every state has to abide by the Constitution (adopted in 1788 + various amendments were added over the years, the document guarantees freedom of religion, speech, press, peaceful assembly etc.) + cannot leave the union at any circumstances)
      • legislative – US Congress (resides in the US Capitol)
        • Senate – the upper house
          • 100 members (2 for each state), advisors of the president + makes laws
        • House of Representatives – the lower house
          • 435 members (elected by total number of votes), makes laws (both houses have to agree on a law for it to pass to the president for signature)
      • executive – president (resides in the White House)
        • president = head of the state + leader of the government + commander-in-chief of the armed forces – highly influential, can serve a maximum of two four-year terms
      • judicial – the Supreme Court
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