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Elections. In the United Kingdom, 48 million voters… and the king, the king, the king?



“I have asked His Majesty the King for the dissolution of Parliament. The King has responded favorably to this request.” On May 22, Rishi Sunak unexpectedly announces early general electionsThe prerequisite has just been fulfilled: earlier in the day, Charles III validated the principle of a dissolution of the House of Commons.

In reality, the monarch had little room for maneuver. As in many other areas, the sovereign made his decision “on the advice” of the Prime Minister. A reflection of a role of head of state overlooking partisan politics, guarantor of a certain neutrality of the monarchical institution.

“The power of the monarch has weakened considerably over the last three hundred years., notes the American magazine Time.

“The last time a monarch refused to pass a law was in 1708. And the last time a preference was given for a candidate for prime minister was in 1894, under Queen Victoria. Yet the king retains symbolic power in many aspects of the country’s governance structure.”

What about the Lords?

For example, “Once the election is over, the winner will have to go and ask the monarch for permission to form a government in his name,” specifies the newspaper Metro. The king and the head of government will then discuss current affairs each week during a private “audience” at Buckingham Palace. “In this context, many people ask themselves the following question: can the king vote?” In other words, does the sovereign have the right to participate in the choice of the next government?

Legally, nothing prevents him from doing so, responds the free London daily. This Thursday, July 4, Charles III is theoretically part of the electoral body of 48 million people called upon to renew the 650 elected members of the House of Commons. But the “monarch voluntarily chooses to abstain”, slice Metro.

“The king is expected to remain ‘above the fray’, and this decision not to vote reflects that position,” explains constitutionalist Craig Prescott to Sky News. For the same reason, the main members of the royal family also stay at home on election day. “The recommendations of the Parliament provide that it is contrary to the Constitution for them to vote,” underlines Metro.

A similar issue concerns members of the House of Lords, who are appointed for life, not elected. They simply give up their right to vote when they enter Westminster. “As members of the upper house, it is decided that they cannot contribute to defining the composition of the House of Commons, says Craig Prescott. It is up to the people alone to choose who represents them there.”

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