British Elections

  Jun 16, 2020

British Elections

Why are British elections taking place?

Nearly three-and-a-half years after the UK voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum, it has not happened.

Britain was to exit the European Union by the end of October 2019. It could not happen as there was no majority for the Conservative party of Johnson. UK requested EU for an extension. The new Brexit deadline is January 31, 2020 by when the terms of separation have to be finalised. A new House has to be constituted and a new law is to be made in time. 

This will be the country's first December election since 1923, but the urgency of the new January 31 Brexit deadline and the extent of the parliamentary deadlock has forced the poll.

Is there unity among the political parties about the Brexit plan?

No. Politicians are divided: some want the UK to leave the EU as soon as possible, some would prefer another referendum, and others to cancel Brexit altogether.

What is Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA)?

It is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that for the first time sets in legislation a default fixed election date, based on the date of the previous election, to the Westminster parliament. Before the Act was passed, elections were required to be held at minimum once every five years, but the Prime Minister, exercising royal prerogative, could unilaterally call one earlier. Like Prime Minister Vajpayi did in 2004. 

Elections can still be held more often than once every five years under the Act, but the power to effect this has now been transferred to Parliament, and requires a supermajority to vote in favor.

The Act sets out the timetables for parliamentary general elections and dissolution of parliament. Under the Act, the next general election is, in the absence of other parliamentary intervention, automatically scheduled for the first Thursday in May of the fifth year after the previous general election. An earlier election can take place if

In October 2019, Parliament voted to prepone the election from 2022 to December 2019 for the reasons cited above. 

What are the main political parties in UK?

How is a government formed in UK? 

It is like in India. In the UK, voters don't elect a prime minister directly. Instead, they elect a Member of Parliament (MP) to represent their local constituency. The leader of the party which wins a majority of the UK's 650 constituencies becomes Prime Minister.

That means a party needs to win 326 seats to form a majority government. If no group meets that number, the party with the most seats can seek the support of smaller parties, either to join in an official coalition or support from `outside’- that is by not joining the government. 

Who can vote?

British citizens over the age of 18, plus qualifying Irish and Commonwealth citizens living in the UK, are able to vote.

What are the issues?

Brexit, National Health Service and immigration.