The political atmosphere of London has been molded by a variety of influences over the years. Before the Labour Party rose to power in British politics, the Liberal Party was the other major political force alongside the Conservatives. Since 1965, there have been 32 city councils in London and the City of London, providing essential services such as education, housing, social services, environmental services, local planning, and many arts and leisure services. The City of London is the oldest local authority in England, having been around for centuries. It offers the same services as the districts, but in a much smaller area.
The City of London has also been leading its own police force since 1839 - the City of London Police. This city has kept its strong traditions alive, with its mayor and members of the Common Council Court (on which the Westminster Parliament is based) acting on a non-partisan political basis. The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) is responsible for running the London Fire Department and advising on fire safety, enforcing fire safety laws, and carrying out various emergency planning activities.
Duverger's Lawis a political science principle that affects elections and political parties in the United Kingdom. It states that plural voting systems, such as “first past the post”, tend to lead to the development of bipartisan systems.
In practice, this means that the leader of the political party with an absolute majority of seats in the House of Commons is elected prime minister. The emergence of Labour on the left wing of British politics caused a slow decline in Liberal Party energy, resulting in it taking third place in domestic politics. The Mayor sets an annual budget for the Greater London Authority (GLA) and for the GLA Group, which includes Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Department. Since the 1920s, two main political parties have dominated seats in the House of Commons - the Conservative and Unionist Party and Labour Party. Its constitutional function is to support whichever government is currently in power regardless of their political party. After 1918 this led to a decrease in Liberal Party power as a major reform force in British politics.
In 1971 Ian Paisley founded what has become Northern Ireland's largest unionist political party - The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Coalition governments and minority governments have been an occasional feature of parliamentary politics but usually one party has a majority due to “First Past The Post” electoral system which has contributed to creating a two-party system. The last two decades have seen a significant decrease in violence although tensions remain high as more radical parties such as Sinn Féin and DUP now occupy most parliamentary seats (see Demography and Politics of Northern Ireland).