Poli Sci 2300- Britain

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Friday, October 8, 2010
Britain
Political System
British governments personality:
oConstitutional monarchy
oUnitary system
oFusion of the executive and the legislature cabinet ministers – members of
Parliament
oParliament is sovereign – impact of EU
oResponsible government – Cabinet is responsible to the Parliament
Cannot make decisions without support of Parliament
oMember of the EU
Constitution
Not codified
“Can be more abstract, consisting of laws and customs, conventions; same as the
written one”
Constitutional principles come from:
oStatue law (acts of Parliament)
oCommon law (British courts judgments) -
oEuropean law (e.g., trade, agriculture, environment)
oCustoms and conventions (don’t have force of law)
oCommentaries (e.g. A Dicey)
oSupports of unwritten constitution – greater flexibility
oOpponents – potential for abuse of power by strong PMs
oGrowing support for written constitution
Monarchy = Rule By One
Britain has been a monarchy for centuries (except for 1639-1660)
Position by birth or hereditary – British kings and queens had monopoly over
state political power
Now, monarchy is a ceremonidal head of state
Monarch reigns but does not rule
Power of Monarch (Queen Elizabeth II) is limited to:
oCalling new elections – If the Parliament loses confidence in PM/Cabinet
oThe power of veto
oConferring with the PM
oForming a government
oAddress to Parliament (annual State Opening of Parliament)
oSymbol of state
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