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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
King: Charles III (since 8 September 2022). Predecessor: Queen Elizabeth II.
Prime Minister: Rishi Sunak (since 25 October 2022), Conservative Party.
Next Election Dates
General elections (House of Commons): May 2, 2024 (at the latest).
Current Political Context
In 2022, UK politics were marked by high volatility, with the ousting of two prime ministers. Criticized for breaking COVID rules by attending parties in Downing Street, Tory Premier Boris Johnson survived a confidence motion in June 2022, but resigned after allegations of sexual misconduct lead to a mass walkout by ministers in July. After just 49 days in office, Liz Truss resigned in October following policy blunders and U-turns and Rishi Sunak took over as prime minister (The Economist). Containing inflation, supporting growth, tackling public debt, reforming the NHS and controlling immigration are his priorities (BBC). After reigning for 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II died in September and was succeeded by her son King Charles III.

The UK government is providing a range of economic, humanitarian and defensive military assistance to Ukraine following its invasion by Russia, and is imposing sanctions on Russia and Belarus. The fallout from the Brexit process still weighs on the policy agenda and tensions with the EU remain. In September 2022, the government introduced the Retained EU Law, also known as the ‘Brexit Freedoms Bill’, which aims to abolish the principle of the supremacy of EU law in the UK by the end of 2023, and proposes to give the government new powers to amend, replace or repeal the EU laws copied into UK domestic legislation (European Parliament). The 'Northern Ireland Protocol bill' was also introduced in June 2022, providing that certain provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol would no longer 'have effect in the UK' (European Parliament). Meanwhile, the UK worked on strengthening its commercial relations, signing rollover agreements (to ensure continuity to the deals previously covered by the EU), as well as negotiating numerous trade deals. The UK has also increased its activities in the region of western Balkans.
Main Political Parties
The three dominant parties:
- Labour Party: left-wing socialist and social democratic, grew out of trade union movement in the 19th century;
- Conservative Party: centre-right; believes in free-market economy, strong military and traditional cultural values;
- Liberal Democrats: centrist, moderate pro-European, opposed the Iraq war and strong on civil rights.
Other parties exist, such as:
- The Scottish National Party (SNP): centre-left;
- The UK Independence Party (UKIP): Eurosceptic, right-wing populist;
- The Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW - Greens): environmentalist
- The Democratic Unionist Party: right-wing;
- The Reform UK (Brexit Party): Eurosceptic
Executive Power
The King is the head of state. But above all he plays a symbolic and representational role. He continues to exercise three essential rights: the right to be consulted, to advise and to warn. Following legislative elections to the lower house of parliament, the leader of the majority party or coalition is usually appointed Prime Minister by the King to serve a five-year term. The Prime Minister is the head of government and has all executive powers, which include law enforcement and the conduct of the day-to-day affairs of the country. The Council of Ministers is appointed by the Prime Minister.
Legislative Power
The United Kingdom has a bicameral legislative system. The parliament is made up of: the House of Lords (the upper house), whose members are appointed for life by the King on the proposal of the Prime Minister (the number of members varies, currently at about 800), 91 hereditary peers and 26 members of the clergy. The House of Commons (lower house) has 650 seats, and its members are elected by universal suffrage, for a 5-year term. The government is directly responsible to and dependent on parliament.

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


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Actualitzacions: November 2023

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