Major differences between US and UK elections

Major differences between US and UK elections

In this world almost everything carries certain norms and regulations so naturally election is not exceptional it too follows rules and regulations that sharply make out the difference between the countries mode of election.

President versus prime minister

In America people vote for the president and their state representatives separately, while in Britain the vote is all wrapped up in one. When Britain go to the polls in a general election, they are voting to choose who will be their local MP, most of who are members of one of the main parties in Westminster. The party with the most MPs then generally goes on to form the government and the leader of that party becomes prime minister. Therefore a vote in a British general election represents, to varying degrees, a vote for a local MP, for a party and for a prime minister.

In America, the votes for the president, for senators and for members of the House of Representatives are kept separate – so in theory someone could cast a vote for a Republican president while at the same time voting for a Democrat senator. Unlike an American president, the prime minister can change during a term because their party collectively decides who leads them – not the electorate. A president is also the head of state, where a prime minister is not.


In America, the Supreme Court is an intensely political institution – its members are appointed by the President on a partisan basis and its decisions are often highly political and highly controversial. By contrast, in Britain the Supreme Court is not appointed on a political basis and, like all British courts, avoids making decisions which it regards as proper to politicians and Parliament.

Political parties

In the USA, the Republicans are the Right of Centre party and the Democrats are the Left of Centre party. In the UK, the Conservatives are the Right of Centre party and Labour is the Left of Centre party. In the USA, there is no centre party in this sense of one positioned politically between the Republicans and the Democrats. In Britain, there is a Liberal Democrat Party which ideologically sees itself as between Conservative and Labour.

Election system

In the USA, the term of a President, Senator or Congressman is known precisely as four years, six years and two years respectively and the dates of the elections are fixed. In the UK, the term of members of the House of Commons – and therefore of the Government – is legally a maximum of five years but traditionally a Prime Minister could call a general election whenever he or she wished .However, the current Coalition Government has enacted legislation to provide for a fixed five-year term except for special circumstances.


One of the key differences between the British and American systems stems from the use of campaign money: America is huge, and that means it takes a lot of cash to spread the word. In Britain there are tight controls on what parties can spend on campaigning, and private contributions are relatively modest.

Back-to-back office

A US president is only allowed to take presidential office for a maximum of two terms. A UK prime minister can take office for as long as her or his party remains in power, and they remain leader of that party.

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