How Does it Work?
General Election 2017 – the facts:
- The next UK General Election will be held on Thursday 8th June 2017, following a surprise announcement by Prime Minister Theresa May. This so-called ‘snap’ election comes three years earlier than would have been the case under the terms of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.
- 650 Members of the House of Commons each representing a constituency of approximately 70,000 people will be elected on Election Day, though some votes will be cast by a postal ballot before that. All British citizens aged 18 or above and registered on the electoral roll can vote. Citizens of the Republic of Ireland resident in the UK and citizens of qualifying Commonwealth states resident in the UK can also vote if they are over 18 and registered to vote.
- Under normal circumstances, several weeks before polling day political parties would publish manifestos outlining the policies they plan to implement if they are able to form a government. These are scrutinised by the media, think tanks, charities and individual voters during the election campaign. As this is a ‘snap’ election, party manifestos are currently being hastily drawn together and will be published in the coming days.
- For UK General Elections, the ‘first past the post’ system is used. Voters mark an ‘X’ by the name of one candidate on their ballot and whoever attains the highest number of votes is the winner. Most candidates are members of a political party.
- To form a government with an overall majority, a party needs 326 individual MPs. An overall majority means the governing party is likely to be able to win votes and pass legislation through the House of Commons without depending on the support of any other party.
- In 2010 there was no overall majority, so the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats formed a Coalition. If there were to be no overall majority at the 2015 General Election, the largest party could either form a coalition with another party or attempt to govern as a minority government that would depend on the support of others on a vote-by-vote basis.
- In 2015, the Conservatives achieved a majority of 12 seats, with Labour suffering heavy losses in Scotland in particular following success for the SNP, and the Liberal Democrats losing 49 seats across the UK.