Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen as the head of state. Britain is divided into four parts: England (London), Wales (Cardiff), Scotland (Edinburgh) and Northern Ireland (Belfast).
Locally is Britain divided into counties. The capital of the whole Britain is London. Other big cities according to population are Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bradford and Bristol.
Britain is a constitutional monarchy. It means that the head of the state is the Queen but she can act only on the advice of her ministers.
LEGISLATIVE AND EXECUTIVE POWERS, POLITICAL PARTIES
The constitution is unwritten, it is based on custom, tradition and common law.
Parliament is the supreme law-making body in the country. It consists of: The House of Commons and The House of Lords. The members of the Commons are elected, the Lords is made up of hereditary and life peers. The major part of Parliament's work is revising the Government's work. Another important parliamentary task is law-making. A proposal of some new law must pass through both Houses and then is sent to the Queen for Royal Assent.
The Government is formed by the party which has the majority in Parliament. The Prime Minister appoints a team of main ministers as the Cabinet. The second largest party forms the official Opposition with its own leader and "shadow cabinet". The present Prime Minister is a conservative John Major.
NATIONAL FLAG AND ANTHEM
British national flag is sometimes called "Union Jack". The origin of the name is uncertain. Each country has its cross in the flag:
England - St. George's Cross
Scotland - St. Andrew's Cross
Ireland - St. Patrick's Cross
National anthem is "God Save the Queen!"
Each part has its own symbol: England has the red rose, Wales has the leek and daffodil, Scotland has the thistle and Ireland has the shamrock.
The USA with the President as the head of state is a federation of 50 states with 48 on the continent, Alaska in the North and Hawaii in the Mid-Pacific. There is also one district, D.C. - District of Columbia - this territory is not a state, the state capital is situated here.
It went into effect in March 1787. The Bill of Rights was added in 1791. This document guarantees freedom of religion, free speech, free press the right to fair trial etc. It gave the USA the principle of a balance power divided into three ranches - legislative, executive and judicial.
The legislative branch is made up of elected representatives. The Congress is divided into two parts: The House of Representatives consists of lawmakers who are elected according to the population of each state.
The Senate has 100 members - 2 of each state.
The executive branch is represented by the President and 13 executive departments. He is elected every 4 years. The Vice-President is from the same political party as the President.
The judicial branch is made up of Federal District Courts, 11 Federal Courts of Appeals and at the top the Supreme Court.
The Democratic Party is more liberal - they think that the government should provide wide social and economic programmes for those who need them.
The Republican Party puts more emphasis on private enterprise and individual initiative.
THE AMERICAN FLAG AND ANTHEM
The American flag consists of two parts - one smaller blue oblong wit 50 white stars symbolizing 50 American states and one larger oblong consisting of 6 white and 7 red stripes symbolizing the original 13 states which used to be the British colonies. The flag is sometimes called "Old Glory" or "Stars and Stripes".
The American anthem is called "The Star-Spangled Banner".
THE CZECH REPUBLIC
The Czech republic is a sovereign, united and democratic state. It was established on 1st January 1993. Its government is divides into three branches - the legislative, represented by the Parliament, the executive, represented mainly by the president and the government, and the judicial, represented by courts at various levels.
The Parliament consists of two chamber - the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The 200 Deputies and 81 Senators have the exclusive duty of making laws. These two groups of members of the Parliament differ in the way in which they are elected and in the length of the terms they serve. The elections to the Chamber of Deputies take place every four years while every two years one third of the Senators is renewed. When these times come, every citizen from the age 18 can exercise the universal, equal, direct and secret right to vote. The Parliaments main task is to pass laws, ratify international treaties and decide on sending our troops abroad.
The Parliament is a law-making body. a new law-to-be, a bill, can be proposed by a deputy, a group of deputies, the Senate, the government or higher-level authorities. The bill first goes to the Chamber of Deputies which debates and ultimately votes on it. A bill that has been passed by the Chamber of Deputies is then submitted to the Senate where the process begins anew. The law must be approved by the government. A law must be signed by the head of the Chamber of Deputies, the prime minister and the president.
The president is elected every five years by the Parliament but no one can serve more than two terms in office in a row. The president represents the state abroad and concludes foreign treaties. He has also many duties in relation to the other bodies of government: appointment of all judges, generals of the army, ambassadors and other officials. The president is also the commander-in-chief of the army. In the law-making process he can exercise the power of veto which means not signing a bill within the assigned 15 days and returning to the Parliament. In relation to the judicial power he can grant a pardon to a convicted person or declare an amnesty. His task is also to call a general election. The leader of the winning is then appointed the prime minister and on his suggestion the president makes appointments of all the other members of the government.
The government is composed of the premier, the vice-premiers and the ministers. The hierarchy of the executive branch goes further down to the local authorities where the municipality is the smallest unit. The head of municipal authorities is called a mayor.
The judicial power is divided into a system of courts, starting with the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court and going down to the courts at all level of regional government. The courts check the constitutionality of existing laws. They apply the law in practice in individual cases. Judges serve for an unlimited period and must be professional lawyers.
In the elections the citizen can choose from a variety of political parties. They can be divided into these three groups: the left wing, moderate, and right wing. In our republic Coalition is formed by the right wing parties (the Civic Democratic Party, the Civic Democratic Union, the Christian Parties). The moderate and the left wing are in opposition.
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