Wondering how prime ministers and members of the British Parliament get their jobs? Here’s a crash course.
In the United Kingdom, Parliament is the lawmaking body. Parliament has two houses: the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
Members of the House of Lords are called lords or peers. Until recently, most of them inherited their seats from a parent and kept their seats for life. Now, people may be appointed to the House of Lords by other people in power or by a committee.
Members of the House of Commons are elected by the public. Its members are often called MPs. Each MP represents a different constituency, or district, and looks out for the interests of the people in that constituency.
There are many political parties in the U.K., but most MPs belong to either the Conservative Party or the Labour Party. The party that has the majority in the House of Commons selects the prime minister (PM) to lead the country. The prime minister is always a member of Parliament.
A Parliament can be in power for up to five years until there is a national election to select new members. However, the prime minister can request that the current Parliament be dissolved before that time, which would lead to an early national election. The king has the power to dissolve Parliament at the request of the prime minister.
Calling for an early election is risky. It could add to the number of MPs who belong to the majority party. But that party might end up with fewer members of Parliament. Even worse, the party might lose its majority, which means the new majority party would select a new prime minister.
By law, the next general election has to take place by January 23, 2025.