Unit 12.1

Government and politics: Powers of State and state institutions

General knowledge

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Government Systems

  • The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch.
  • King or Queen is the head of state while Prime Minister leads the government with the Cabinet and ministers.
    • The Government is responsible for deciding how the country is run and for managing it. To make new laws or raise new taxes the Government needs Parliament’s agreement.
    • The Cabinet meets to discuss the most important issues for the government and is made of senior members of the government. It is the most important decision-maker in the government.
    • Ministers come from House of Commons and House of Lords. They are being chosen by the Prime Minister. They are responsible for their departments.
  • Parliament is the highest legislative authority in the UK.
    • It monitors the work of government and also checks and approves new laws.
    • It is also known as the “Legislature”.
    • The headquarters of parliament are located at Houses of Parliament in London.
  • The United Kingdom has a unitary system of government but some powers have been given to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Only the United Kingdom´’s Government can represent it abroad.
  • National Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: The government runs the country. It is responsible for developing and executing policy and for planning laws. It is also known as the ‘Executive’.
  • The United Kingdom has a civil service that acts impartially. It doesn’t change when the government changes.
    • It does the practical and administrative work of government.
  • The British constitution is uncodified; it is flexible.

Symbols of the State’s Powers and the Institutions

  • Flags: Each country has its flag.
    • The Union Jack is the national flag of the whole United Kingdom. It is the combination of English, Scottish, Northern Ireland’s and Welsh flags.
Bandera del Reino Unido
Source:  wikipedia.org
    • Saint George’s Cross is the national flag of England.
Flag of England.svg
Source: wikipedia.org
    • The Saint Andrew’s Cross is the national flag of Scotland.
Flag of Scotland.svg
Source: wikipedia.org
        • The Baner Cymru or Y Ddraig Goch is the national flag of Wales.
      Flag of Wales (1959–present).svg
      Source: wikipedia.org

      Only official flag in Nothern Ireland is Union Jack and it is represented in it by The Saint Patrick’s Saltire.

250px saint patrick's saltire.svg
Source: wikipedia.org
  • National Anthems:
    • The British National Anthem is God Save the Queen. It represents the whole of the United Kingdom.
    • At most international sporting events Scotland uses “Flower of Scotland” as its national anthem.
    • Anthem of Wales is Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Old Land of My Fathers).
    • Northern Ireland does not have anthem but songs Londonderry Air and Ireland’s Call are used at some events to represent it.
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