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Key differences in the way of governance in the USA and the UK

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USA and the UK are two different states in the world. USA, completely known as United States of America has a federal and constitutional republic form of government while the UK (United Kingdom) instills the constitutional monarchy-parliament governance.

Here are some key differences in the way of governance: Perhaps the most fundamental difference between the American and British political systems is the constitution. The United States has a written constitution as most of the other nation states. The UK does not have a single document called the constitution but instead its constitutional provisions are scattered over various Acts of Parliament.

The American constitution is hard to change and, in current political circumstances, perhaps impossible to change in any meaningful respect. The British Constitution i.e. – various Acts of Parliament – can be changed by a simple majority in the legislature. The most obvious and certainly the most visible differences between the American and British political systems is that the USA is a presidential system, with the apex of power in a President elected indirectly through an Electoral College, whereas the UK is a parliamentary system, with the Prime Minister holding office and power only so long as he or she commands a majority of votes in the House of Commons.

A US President is limited by the constitution to two four-year terms in office, whereas there is no limit to the time that a British Prime Minister can serve in the office. The American Cabinet is appointed by the President but he does not chair it or even attend it. The British Cabinet is appointed by the Prime Minister who normally attends and chairs every meeting. In the USA, both houses of the legislature – the Senate and the House of Representatives – are directly elected. In the UK, the House of Commons is directly elected, but the House of Lords is largely appointed making it unique in the democratic world.

In America, the Supreme Court is an intensely political institution – its members are appointed by the President on a partisan basis and its decisions are often highly political and highly controversial. By contrast, in Britain the Supreme Court is not appointed on a political basis and, like all British courts, avoids making decisions which it regards as proper to politicians and Parliament.

In the USA, the term of a President, Senator or Congressman is known precisely as four years, six years and two years respectively and the dates of the elections are fixed. In the UK, the term of members of the House of Commons – and therefore of the Government – is legally a maximum of five years but traditionally a Prime Minister could call a general election whenever he or she wished and it has been considered “cowardly” to wait the full five years and so the election has been more typically after around four years. However, the current Coalition Government has enacted legislation to provide for a fixed five-year term except for special circumstances.

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