One of the countries that have played a significant role in the history of the world is the United Kingdom. It is a country that has influenced many other nations in the world including the United States. The British influence has been felt in culture, language, and many other areas. The United Kingdom consists of four different countries that are England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. A part of Ireland broke off from the kingdom to establish Northern Ireland in the year 1921 through the Anglo-Irish treaty.
One may start to look at the government of the United Kingdom from as early as the 1000s. During that period, the monarch that was ruling the region (before the formation of the present-day country) at the time started minimizing the powers that were held by the monarch’s family. Over the years since then, several treaties have been signed that have led to the inclusion of the other countries.
The country is headed by the Queen whose role is limited in terms of steering the country. The Queen has taken on a more ceremonial role, and her duties have been limited to reigning over the kingdom but not ruling it (Watts 2003). The first government head of the country is said to have been brought into power in 1940.
The country has a parliamentary form of governance with a system that consists of two houses. The first is the House of Commons that is composed of elected officials. The second one is the House of Lords which is the upper house and is made up of appointed officials (Williams 1998 ). This division of the two houses that make up the Parliament of the United Kingdom may be traced back to the fourteenth century.
The United Kingdom is an island that has relied heavily on trade to support its economy and its people. It was the world leader in the past century, but it has lost its position to other developing nations. This may be attributed to the two world wars and the loss of most of its territories in the past century. The country took on a spearheading role in both world wars. This was through leading the onslaught in curtailing Germany’s increasing power in Europe. This brought the country into grave debt; as a result, it needed the help of both Canada and the United States to recover.
Much of the economic prowess of Britain was brought about by the trade system that greatly favored industries of the country, while at the same time squashing those of other nations. The country did this by applying policies that favored local industries. These policies greatly encouraged exportation through the provision of such incentives as subsidies to its local industries, while at the same time imposing higher tariffs on imported goods. This was both in the United Kingdom and its colonies.
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Most of this success was majorly guaranteed by the fact that it was the first country to industrialize. This influence started to decrease in the late twentieth century. This was caused by the emergence of other world economies and also by the adoption of free trade policies. The UK is currently the third largest economy among European nations and the seventh largest economy in the world (Holden, Mathews, & Thompson 2004 ).
There are certain similarities in the governmental composition of the United States and the United Kingdom. First of all, both of these governments are democratic and their governance rests on elected officials. In the case of the United States, there is the House of Representatives and the Senate. These are structurally similar to the ones that are found in the UK, which are the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Representatives in the case of the USA are of two kinds. There are two representatives from each state that are voted into the Senate every six years. Then there are those who are voted into the House of Representatives depending on the population of a given congressional district.
Another similarity may be in that they both have a head of the country: in the USA, this is the president, while in the UK, this is the queen. On the other hand, this presents a difference between the two countries in that the powers of both of these heads are of varying nature and degree. In the case of the UK, the Queen is considered a more ceremonial position with very little power in terms of affecting laws or direction of the country. On the other hand, with regard to the USA, the president is a more powerful position and they are considered as the head of the executive branch. Some of their functions include the protection of laws that have been laid down by the legislature.
Another difference that emerges when it comes to the governmental organization in both of these countries is the position of the countries’ heads. The UK is headed by a monarch. That is to say, the current ruling family will be the head of the nation until the time when certain extenuating circumstances lead to the cancellation of this position. People of the country have very little sway as to who the head of the monarchy may be. The USA, on the other hand, is headed by the president who is an elected official. This is done through a general election that takes place every four years. They can only hold this office for a maximum of two four-year terms.
The position of the president in the United States may be thought to be similar to that which is held by the prime minister in the UK. The prime minister is elected into the position by the greatest majority of votes in the House of Commons. Some of their duties include the appointment of the cabinet. Members of the cabinet are usually representatives of the majority party.
Another difference between the countries is the existence of a separation of powers between the executive and the legislative branches in the case of the USA. Here the legislature is made up of the parliament that includes both the senate and the House of Representatives. The powers of the executive branch are then left to the president who is aided by different departments that have been created by the congress. On the other hand, in the case of the UK, both of these functions are performed by the same house with the cabinet being appointed by the prime minister. The power to enact laws in the UK is left to both houses of parliament that also have the responsibility for enforcing and ensuring the upholding of these laws.
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The USA is a federal country. Here different states that make up the country hold some autonomy as far as the decision regarding their self-governance is concerned. The central federal government still holds some powers as far as enacting legislations that will affect the whole country is concerned. The government of the UK, on the other hand, is largely made up of a central rule-making body. This is the parliament with different regions having to adhere to these different rules. There is some form of devolution though to regions other than the parliament in London (Wilson & Chris 2006 ). These other houses have powers to legislate on certain issues.
Another difference between the countries that may be of concern is the constitutions of the two countries. The USA has a constitution that is written down. This constitution can be amended only under certain strict rules. These include the ratification by over a two-thirds majority in both houses and three quarters of the state representatives that come from three quarters of the states (Watts 2003). On the other hand, in the UK, the laws have various sources. These sources include a large number of treaties that the country has signed, case-laws which are judgments of past cases, and different statues. These laws though can be changed by acts of the parliament. According to the data provided on the UK parliament website, the country’s constitution is referred to as “partly written and wholly uncodified”.
The economies of these two countries have a lot of similarities in terms of contributors. In both of these countries, the major contributor is the services sector. This sector provides over fifty percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of both countries. Moreover, it is the major employer in both countries. These two countries also have their economies being largely dependent on the financial services sector. The UK and the city of London attract a lot of foreign capital for investment. It is slowly losing its position though to other emerging economies that have decided to get into this area. In the US, this role is taken up by New York City which houses the largest stock exchange in the world.
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Another similar feature between the economies is that both of these countries rely heavily on export-oriented growth as opposed to domestic consumption. Both of them have free markets that have agreements with most other countries in the world. They also rely heavily on imports of some of the supplies that they need. One of the major imports in both countries is energy. This is despite the fact that both countries have huge reserves of this precious commodity. This has largely contributed to the deficits that both of these countries have had in their balance of payments.
What is more, both of these countries may be considered as capitalist countries that are hugely driven by the growth of privately held enterprises. There might be a small difference here though. The difference is that the majority of USA businesses are privately held corporations with very little or minimal government control. The government of the UK though is one where most of the enterprises have some form of government control. However, this issue is being addressed by the government with most public ownership schemes being reduced. Also, some steps have been taken to limit the increase in the number of the present social welfare programs (Card 2004).
In my opinion, the systems of governance work best, while the economic ones have some shortcomings. With regard to the government, there is a combination of both legislative and executive arms, which has streamlined the law-making procedure. This helps to make the process of passing fundamental laws easier and faster. This may be credited to the reduced bureaucracy of the system. Also, the centralization of the governance in combination with the devolution of some powers to other regional parliaments creates an efficient governance system. This is because all regions are under a single authority on any given issue. This reduces conflicts that may arise due to differences in positions that may be caused by variations in the regulations that govern a given region.
The only issue with the economy of the UK is that the country has majorly maintained a deficit. The continued deficit limits the economy’s potential to grow and regain its former position as a world economic leader. The reliance on foreign goods may also limit the growth potential of local industries that are in these sectors. Also, with the recent financial crisis that has rocked the world, it may be noticed that these deficits may limit the ability of the country to cope with such shocks and unexpected situations as best as it can.
One positive side that the UK has over the USA is its ability to maintain and govern its social programs. This is an area that the USA as a country is still working on. This is both from a governance perspective and an economic one. Politics have played a major role in curtailing the efforts that could be made in this sector. Also, the USA has an increasing deficit, which means that there is a decreasing amount of money that can be dedicated to such programs. In the UK, however, these programs have been successfully implemented for many years.