What Is the Structure of the British Government?

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Great Britain, as part of the United Kingdom, is subject to a constitutional monarchy form of government in which a figurehead monarch, who was Queen Elizabeth II as of the summer of 2014, holds more symbolic than actual power and most of the actual governance is performed by a parliamentary system, which includes elected and appointed officials. The U.K. Parliament consists of two houses, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and the government as a whole is presided over by an executive branch that includes a prime minister, deputy prime minister, cabinet and other executive ministers. The office of prime minister is filled not by the electorate, but by appointment based on which political party controls the House of Commons.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom is a bicameral body that consists of the House of Lords, which is filled not by election but by appointment. There are several types of membership in the House of Lords, including appointments on the basis of ecclesiastical service in the Church of England, hereditary titling and political appointment by the queen on the recommendation of the prime minister. Members of the House of Commons gain their seats through popular vote, and it is through this indirect method that the citizenry has control over who becomes prime minister.