LEDBURY, England, July 18 (UPI) -- The UK provided a remarkable demonstration of how a democracy that lacks a written constitution changes government. Following the June 23 referendum on Britain's remaining in the European Union ---- which Prime Minister David Cameron believed he would win -- by 52-48 percent margin, Britons voted to leave. Cameron then resigned and the Conservative Party began selecting a successor.
At first, the plots for choosing the next leader were Shakespearean. Boris Johnson, the highly theatrical former mayor of London turned MP appeared the most likely contender. Stabbed in the back (or front as some argued) by Michael Gove, once Cameron's closest ally turned adversary over championing leave, both Johnson and Gove withdre, leaving the field open to Theresa May, home secretary, and Angela Leadsom, a little-known back bencher.
After making on unforced and politically suicidal remark about how May's not having children would impair her leadership, Leadsom withdrew. May was elected. On Wednesday, in the afternoon and following a bravura performance in his last question time as PM, Cameron made his way to Buckingham Palace to deliver his resignation. A short time later, May made the same short journey up the Mall and, after shaking hands with the queen, became the crown's first minister. Moving vans had already replaced the Cameron family's belongings at No. 10 Downing St., the PM's residence in Whitehall, with May's.
In the days before this seamless shift of power, Nigel Farage stepped down as head of the UK Independence party and Labor's Jeremy Corbyn faced a revolt that he would ultimately contain. British tabloids screamed "implosion" and "meltdown" that evaporated just a few days later with this effortless and flawless change in prime ministers.
Not all comparisons are either odious or misplaced. For seeming eons, many Americans and outside observers remain transfixed on the race for the leader of the free world. The nominating process for president rumbled to a start nearly a year ago and took on the force of a tsunami with primary voting as the new year began. And what a primary it has been.
Donald Trump -- an anti-establishment candidate without any elective or real political experience and the self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders received a combined 40 percent of the primary vote during the ensuing six months. Through chutzpah and bluster that appealed to Americans dissatisfied and angry with the establishment, Trump outlasted and then overwhelmed his 16 Republican rivals. And Sanders kept nipping ever closer to Hillary Clinton's heels even after she had won the necessary delegate count to be assured of the nomination in Philadelphia. So barring fireworks and demolition derbies at both conventions, Trump and Clinton will square off on Nov. 8.
But even after that election -- and assuming that a Bush v. Gore type suit does not delay deciding the next chief executive further -- lame duck President Barack Obama still serves until noon on Jan. 20, more than two months later.
Unlike a parliamentary system in which Prime Minister May still retains a majority in the House of Commons and thus is in full political control, congressional elections will determine whether Republicans or Democrats will win the Senate and House of Representatives. And should Democrats regain majorities in both houses, given the requirement of a super majority of 60 votes in the Senate to pass or to block certain legislation, the extent of power residing in the White House remains problematic.
No lessons should be drawn from these two examples of the transition of power. Neither the United States nor the UK is likely to alter its basic system of governance, although there is a strong move afoot in Britain to redraft the articles of union that could have huge impact. While the British process indeed can be far smoother, the current structure of political parties and the nominating system in America virtually guarantee a long and drawn-out electoral process.
The critical question for American in the 21st century world that is far more interconnected and interrelated on an instantaneous basis, unlike Britain that guarantees persons with considerable political experience (May had been in Parliament since 1997) rise to the top of each major party's ticket, is "will the U.S. system do the same?" Trump has zero political experience. While Clinton outguns him in that category, her trustworthiness and judgment are also suspect.
Stay tuned because unlike Britain, we have months to go.
Harlan Ullman is UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave Distinguished Columnist and serves as senior adviser for Supreme Allied Commander Europe, the Atlantic Council and Business Executives for National Security and chairs two private companies. His last book is "A Handful of Bullets: How the Murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Still Menaces the Peace." His next book, due out next year, is "Anatomy of Failure: Why America Loses Wars It Starts."