Find out about UK society and politics, and whether you are eligible to vote in elections.
The UK is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch as Head of State. Queen Elizabeth II, as constitutional monarch, has the right ‘to be consulted, to encourage and to warn’, but her influence is mainly informal. As the Sovereign, she is required, on the advice of Ministers, to assent to all Bills, and the Royal Assent (consenting to a measure becoming law) has not been refused since 1707. Read more about the Queen’s role in the modern state here.
Parliament consists of three parts, the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Crown, and is responsible for making laws, examining the work of Government, controlling finance, protecting the individual, examining European proposals, and debating. The public can only vote for Members of Parliament (MPs) to sit in the House of Commons; members of the House of Lords are normally appointed by the Crown on the advice of the Prime Minister (Life Peers), or are Bishops or Archbishops, Law Lords, or Elected Hereditary Peers. Read more about UK Parliament.
At the end of the 20th Century, legislation was passed by the UK Parliament to create devolved Parliaments/Assemblies. You can find out more by visiting the websites for the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
General parliamentary elections
Only British Citizens, or citizens of the Irish Republic or Commonwealth countries, are allowed to vote in General Elections.
Local and European elections
If you are a European Union citizen, living in the UK, you can vote at local government, devolved legislature and European parliamentary elections.
You can register to vote at local, national and European elections, and find out more about how to vote, on the Electoral Commission website ‘About my vote’.
Visit the DirectGov website to find out more about the political system in the UK, and links to major political parties.