Election Day (United Kingdom)

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Election Day in the United Kingdom is by tradition a Thursday. It has been suggested that this tradition arose as the best of several circumstances: Friday pay-packets would lead to more drunken voters on Fridays and weekends; having the election as far after a Sunday as possible would reduce the influence of Sunday sermons; many towns held markets on Thursdays, thus the local population would be travelling to town that day anyway. Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, all future General Elections shall take place on the first Thursday in May every five years, barring special circumstances. Most other European countries hold all Elections on Sundays. Polls in the United Kingdom open at 7:00 and close at 22:00.

UK General Elections[edit]

A General Election in the UK follows the dissolution of Parliament by the Monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister of the day. The Prime Minister thus has the power to choose the date of the election. Thursday has been the customary day to hold elections since the 1930s.[1]

Historically, elections took place over the course of a four-week period until 1918. Election days were then as follows:

and elections have been on Thursdays since then:

Other UK elections[edit]

Local elections in England and Wales are by statute held on the first Thursday in May. This has been changed in recent years: in 2001 they were delayed while an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease was dealt with. Since 2004, local elections have also been delayed in years when the European Parliament is elected, in order to allow the elections to be held simultaneously. In all cases, the elections were held on Thursdays. By-elections and other UK elections are also traditionally held on Thursdays though they can be held on other days - in particular when they would otherwise clash with bank holidays. The last Parliamentary by-election not to be held on a Thursday was the Hamilton by-election of 31 May 1978. This was held on a Wednesday as the returning officer wished to avoid a clash with the opening game of the 1978 FIFA World Cup.

Since 1997, the last four general elections have all been held alongside local elections. In 2010, the local elections were held on the same day as the general elections (Thursday, 6 May).

References[edit]

  1. ^ White, Isobel (22 September 2009). "Timing of Parliamentary election counts". House of Commons Library. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-10-13.