UK POLITICS GUIDE
UK System of Government: Constitutional Monarchy
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a Constitutional Monarchy, in which the Monarch is Head of State and the Prime Minister is head of government. Executive power is exercised by His or Her Majesty's Government, on behalf of the Monarch, as well as by the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales, and the Executive of Northern Ireland. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, as well as in the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies. The Judiciary is independent of the Executive and the Legislature, the highest national court being the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
The UK is a multi-party system and, in the 1920s, the Labour Party replaced the Liberals as the one major political party competing with the Conservatives. Though coalition and minority governments have been an occasional feature of Parliamentary politics, the winner-take-all electoral system used for general elections tends to maintain the dominance of two parties.
Support for nationalist parties in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales led to proposals for devolution in the 1970s, though only in the 1990s did devolution actually happen. Today, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each possess a legislature and government alongside that of the United Kingdom, responsible for devolved matters. However, it is a matter of dispute as to whether increased autonomy and devolution of executive and legislative powers has contributed to a reduction in support for independence.
The constitution of the United Kingdom is uncodified, being made up of constitutional conventions, statutes and other elements in a system of government
known as the Westminster System.