Officially: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Seat of government: London.
Status: Democratic.
Structure: Parliament comprises the House of Commons, elected in geographical constituencies, which chooses the government led by the prime minister, and the House of Lords, primarily appointed but with a sizable hereditary and theocratic component.
Governing party: Conservative Party.
Head of government: Boris Johnson, prime minister (since 2019).
Other parliamentary parties: Labour Party, led by Keir Starmer; Liberal Democrats, led by Ed Davey; Scottish National Party, led by Nicola Sturgeon; Green Party, led by Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay; Democratic Unionist Party, led by Jeffrey Donaldson; Sinn Féin, led by Mary Lou McDonald; Plaid Cymru, led by Adam Price; Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, led by Naomi Long; Social Democratic and Labour Party, led by Colum Eastwood.
Assessment: Still completing devolution of power to the inner elements of its once-sprawling empire, but yet to resolve the issue of Ulster. After its initial installation (under comparative moderates David Trimble and Seamus Mallon) and then suspension, a locally-elected executive returned to power in Ulster, originally headed by unionist Ian Paisley (2007-8) and republican Martin McGuinness (2007-17), both representing the polarization of the electorate. The pro-independence SNP placed first in 2007 elections for the Scottish parliament and formed a government headed by Alex Salmond (2007-14); it won an absolute majority in 2011. Labour served as the previous union government, under Tony Blair (1997-2007) and Gordon Brown (2007-10). A 2010 general election ended in a hung parliament, with the Conservatives holding a large plurality of seats, Labour second, both disproportionate as usual to popular-vote success; the Conservatives formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, with David Cameron as prime minister (2010-6). In 2014, Scotland held a referendum on independence; the vote was in favor of continued union, but only after the three main Westminster parties agreed to further devolution of power. A 2015 election gave the Conservatives a narrow majority on their own. Cameron subsequently called a 2016 referendum on continued membership in the European Union, which he supported; the referendum was a narrow victory for leaving the EU (popularly known as “Brexit”), and he resigned, replaced by Theresa May (2016-9). An early election in 2017 called by May to bolster her government actually weakened it, and she was forced to rely on the Democratic Unionists for a majority. She negotiated a deal with the EU on Brexit, but failed to secure support in parliament, and resigned, replaced by Johnson. Johnson then called another early election, in 2019, and secured a majority of seats (with 43.6% of the vote) on a promise to complete Brexit, which was finalized in early 2020.
FH: 1-1, free. Econ: 8.15 (21), full democracy.
Updated: 2021 November 30.