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A Sweeping Victory For UK's Cameron.

Initial polls had suggested that the recently held UK elections would be closely divided between the two major parties.

However, as results emerged from the May 7 vote, the verdict surprised many. The Conservative party had won more than 50% of the votes -- 331 of the 650 Parliamentary seats. The opposing Labour party had only 232 seats, which was well under what was predicted.

Prime Minister David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, has been elected to a second term in office. While pollsters try to understand how they could have gotten the numbers so wrong, lets take a look at the British electoral process.

U.K's Parliamentary System

In the U.S, the President is the head of the country and elected by the citizens. He/She heads the Executive branch of government, which is separate from the Legislative and Judicial branches. Any laws passed by the House and Senate will need the President's final approval - and can be vetoed by the President as well.

The U.K has a Parliamentary form of democracy. The country of United Kingdom (UK) includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The citizens of the country vote for their local Member of Parliament (MP), and the party with the largest majority in the House of Commons (Lower House) is asked by the British Queen to form the Government. The leader of this largest party is the Prime Minister of the country, and he/she is part of the Legislative branch of the Government - the one that makes laws.

In the UK, elections are held every five years. The election cycle is short - it begins when the Parliament is dissolved in March, and ends with elections in May of the year. Compare that to the US and its primaries, which begin 1-1/2 years in advance!

UK's Political Parties

Did you know that England has the oldest Parliament in the world? It first convened in 1256 AD! However, at that time, it consisted of aristocrats and wealthy men. Following the English Civil War in 1650 AD, two parties came into existence. The Tories were loyal to the British royalty and traditionalists who did not want to see England change. The Whigs were the liberal, reform party, who greatly modernized the British Parliament in the 19th century. The Whigs held power for the longest time.

Today, the two major political parties in UK are the Conservative and Labour Party. The Conservatives are descended from the Tories, but have changed a lot since then. They have embraced reforms, but at the same time are socially conservative. They are supported by business and industrial leaders. The Labour Party was born after the World War I, and are supported by trade unions. There is a third party - the Liberals which has its roots in he Whig party - but it has very little support these days.

There is no term limit on the Prime Minister. For as long as his party is elected into power and his party has chosen him as their representative, he can be the Prime Minister!

Critical Thinking: What do you see as differences between the political systems in the US and UK? See related articles for more details on the US system.

Here is a short video on the election process in the UK, followed by a video on Cameron's victory.

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Title Annotation:World News; David Cameron
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 11, 2015
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