United Kingdom general election, 2015

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United Kingdom general election, 2015
United Kingdom
← 2010 7 May 2015 2020 →
Conservative David Cameron
Labour Ed Miliband
SNP Nicola Sturgeon[n 1]
Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg
DUP Peter Robinson[n 2]
Sinn Féin Gerry Adams[n 3]
Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood[n 4]
SDLP Alasdair McDonnell
UKIP Nigel Farage
Green (England & Wales) Natalie Bennett
Alliance David Ford[n 5]
Respect George Galloway
Total number of seats 650
This lists parties that won seats. See the complete results below.
Prime Minister before election Prime Minister after election
David Cameron
Conservative
TBD
TBD

The United Kingdom general election of 2015 will be held on 7 May 2015 (with postal votes having gone out from late April), to elect the 56th Parliament of the United Kingdom.

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (as amended by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013) led to the mandated dissolution of the 55th Parliament on 30 March 2015 and the scheduling of the election on 7 May, the House of Commons not having voted for an earlier date.[5] There are local elections scheduled to take place on the same day across most of England, with the exception of Greater London. There are no additional elections scheduled to take place in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, apart from any local by-elections.

In UK general elections, voting takes place in all parliamentary constituencies of the United Kingdom to elect Members of Parliament (MPs) to seats in the House of Commons, the lower house of Parliament.

How the election is held[edit]

Each parliamentary constituency of the United Kingdom elects one MP to the House of Commons using the "first past the post" system. If one party obtains a majority of seats, then that party is entitled to form the Government. If the election results in no single party having a majority, then there is a hung parliament. In this case, the options for forming the Government are either a minority government or a coalition government.[6]

Although the Conservative Party planned the number of parliamentary seats to be reduced from 650 to 600, through the Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies under the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, the review of constituencies and reduction in seats was delayed by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 amending the 2011 Act.[7][8][9][10] The next boundary review is now set to take place in 2018; thus the 2015 general election will be contested using the same constituencies and boundaries as in 2010. Of the 650 constituencies, 533 are in England, 59 in Scotland, 40 in Wales and 18 in Northern Ireland.

In addition, the 2011 Act mandated a referendum in 2011 on changing from the current "first past the post" system system to an Alternative Vote system for elections to the Commons. The Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition agreement committed the coalition government to such a referendum.[11] The referendum was held in May 2011 and resulted in the retention of the existing voting system. Before the previous general election, the Liberal Democrats had pledged to change the voting system, and the Labour Party pledged to have a referendum about any such change.[12] The Conservatives, however, promised to keep the first past the post system, but to reduce the number of constituencies by 10%. Liberal Democrat plans were to reduce the number of MPs to 500 elected using a proportional system.[13][14]

Ministers have increased the amount of money that parties and candidates are allowed to spend on the election by 23%, a move decided against Electoral Commission advice.[15] The election sees the first cap on spending by parties in individual constituencies during the 100 days before Parliament's dissolution on 30 March: £30,700, plus a per-voter allowance of 9p in county constituencies and 6p in borough seats. An additional voter allowance of more than £8,700 is available after the dissolution of Parliament. UK political parties spent £31.1m in the 2010 general election, of which Conservatives spent 53%, the Labour Party spent 25% and the Liberal Democrats 15%.[16]

This will be the first UK general election using individual rather than household voter registration. The change in registration system has been accompanied by a drop of almost 1 million in the number of registered voters.[17]

Date of the election[edit]

An election is called following the dissolution of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The 2015 General Election is the first to be held under the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. Prior to this, the power to dissolve Parliament was a Royal Prerogative, exercised by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. Under the provisions of the Septennial Act 1716, as amended by the Parliament Act 1911, an election had to be announced on or before the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the previous parliament, barring exceptional circumstances. No Sovereign had refused a request for dissolution since the beginning of the 20th century, and practice had evolved such that a Prime Minister would typically call a general election to be held at a tactically convenient time within the final two years of a Parliament's lifespan, in order to maximize the chance of an electoral victory for his or her party.[18]

Prior to the 2010 general election, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats pledged to introduce fixed-term elections.[12] As part of the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition agreement, the Cameron ministry agreed to support legislation for fixed-term Parliaments, with the date of the next general election being 7 May 2015.[19] This resulted in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, which removed the Prime Minister's power to advise the monarch to call an early election. The Bill only permits an early dissolution if Parliament votes for one by a supermajority of 66%, or if a government loses a vote of no confidence by a majority and no new government is subsequently formed within 14 days.[20] However, the Prime Minister does have the power, by order made by Statutory Instrument under section 1(5) of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, to provide that the polling day is to be held up to two months later than 7 May 2015. Such a Statutory Instrument must be approved by each House of Parliament. Under section 14 of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 was amended to extend the period between the dissolution of Parliament and the following general election polling day from 17 to 25 working days. This has had the effect of moving forward the date of the dissolution of the present Parliament to 30 March 2015.[5]

Delay[edit]

Occasionally, a constituency is forced to delay its polling day. In each of the two preceding general elections, one constituency delayed its poll due to the death of a candidate.[21]

One 2015 candidate has died: Ronnie Carroll, a Northern Irish singer and 1960s Eurovision Song Contest contestant running as an independent for Hampstead and Kilburn. Since Carroll was an independent, the polling day will not be delayed, although Carroll's name will remain on the ballot.[22][23][24]

Contesting political parties and candidates[edit]

Overview[edit]

As of 9 April 2015, the deadline for standing for the general election, the Electoral Commission's Register of Political Parties includes 428 political parties registered in Great Britain,[25] and 36 in Northern Ireland.[26] Candidates who do not belong to a registered party can use an "independent" label, or no label at all.

The Conservative Party and Labour Party have been the two biggest parties since 1922, and have supplied all UK prime ministers since that date. Polls predict that these parties will receive between 65-75% of the votes and win 80-85% of seats between them [27][28] and that as such the leader of one of these parities will be the prime minister after the election. The Liberal Democrats have been the third party in the UK for many years; but as described by various commentators, other parties have risen relative to the Liberal Democrats since the 2010 election.[29][30] The Economist described a "familiar two-and-a-half-party system" (Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats) that "appears to be breaking down" with the rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the Greens and the Scottish National Party (SNP).[31] Newsnight[32] and The Economist[33] have described the country as moving into a six-party system, with the Liberal Democrats, SNP, UKIP and Greens all being significant. Ofcom, in their role regulating election coverage in the UK, have ruled that for the general election and local elections in May 2015, the major parties in Great Britain are the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats, with UKIP a major party in England and Wales, the SNP a major party in Scotland, and Plaid Cymru (PC) in Wales, and that the Greens are not a major party.[34] The BBC's guidelines are similar but exclude UKIP from the category of "larger parties" in Great Britain and instead state that UKIP should be given "appropriate levels of coverage in output to which the largest parties contribute and, on some occasions, similar levels of coverage".[35][36] Seven parties (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP, SNP, PC and Green) participated in the election leadership debates.[37]

Great Britain based[edit]

The main Great Britain based parties - several parties operate in Northern Ireland only, which has a mainly separate political culture - are listed below in order of seats being contested:

  • Conservative Party: led by David Cameron, the current prime minister. The Conservatives were the larger party in the coalition government, having won the most seats (306) at the 2010 election. They are standing in 647 seats, not contesting 2 in Northern Ireland and the seat of the Speaker
  • Labour Party: led by Ed Miliband. Labour had been in power from 1997 to 2010. They were the Opposition party after the 2010 election, having won 258 seats. They are standing in 631 of Great Britain's 632 constituencies,[n 6] missing only the Speaker's seat.
  • Liberal Democrats: led by Nick Clegg, the current deputy prime minister. The Liberal Democrats were the junior member of the 2010–15 Coalition Government, having won 57 seats. The Lib Dems are contesting the same 631 seats as the Labour Party.
  • UK Independence Party: led by Nigel Farage MEP, who has not previously been in parliament but is standing in South Thanet in the general election. UKIP won the fourth most votes at the 2010 election, but failed to win any seats. They have since won two seats at by-elections in 2014 and won the highest share of votes at the 2014 European Elections. They will be contesting 624 seats across the United Kingdom.
  • Greens. Two distinct but cooperating Green parties operate in Great Britain: the Green Party of England and Wales and the Scottish Green Party, with opinion polling generally making no distinction between the two. The Green Party of England and Wales is led by Natalie Bennett, who has not previously been elected to Westminster, but is standing in Holborn and St Pancras at the general election. Caroline Lucas was elected as the only Green MP in 2010, in which the two parties received a combined 1% of the vote and were seventh overall. The Greens will be standing in 568 seats in Great Britain.
  • Scottish National Party: led by Nicola Sturgeon, who is an MSP and not standing in the general election.[n 1] The SNP only contest seats in Scotland and will be standing in all 59 Scottish constituencies. The party got the second most votes in Scotland and sixth overall in 2010, winning 6 seats. They have since won the 2011 election to the Scottish Parliament and have had a surge of support since the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014, in which they were the main political party behind the losing Yes campaign.[38] Most projections suggest that they will be the third largest party overall after the 2015 election, in terms of seats won, overtaking the Liberal Democrats.[28]
  • Plaid Cymru: led by Leanne Wood, a member of the Welsh Assembly and not standing in the general election.[n 4] Plaid Cymru organise in Wales where they will be contesting all 40 constituencies. They have three MPs and were fourth in Wales (eighth in Great Britain) by vote share in 2010, later finishing third in the 2011 Welsh Assembly elections.

Dozens of other minor parties are standing in Great Britain. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, founded as an electoral alliance of socialist parties in 2010 have 135 candidates and are the only other party to have more than 40 candidates.[39] Respect enter into the election with one MP (George Galloway), who was elected at the 2012 Bradford West by-election, but are standing just 4 candidates. The British National Party, a far-right nationalist party which finished fifth with 1.9% of the vote for its 338 candidates at the 2010 General Election, are standing only 8 candidates following a collapse in support.[40] There are 753 other candidates standing at the general election, including all independents, Northern Ireland-based party candidates, and candidates from other parties.[40]

Northern Ireland[edit]

The main parties in Northern Ireland (with 18 constituencies) described by Ofcom,[34] the BBC[41] and others, ordered by vote share in 2010, are:

  • Sinn Féin: Sinn Féin won most votes in Northern Ireland in 2010, but came second in seats, winning five constituencies. They were second in the 2011 Assembly elections, but first in the 2014 European elections. Sinn Féin operate a policy of abstentionism with respect to the Commons and have never so far taken their seats there. The party also organises in the Republic of Ireland, where it does take seats in parliament. They are standing in all 18 Northern Irish constituencies.
  • Democratic Unionist Party: the DUP won 8 seats in 2010, making them the biggest party from Northern Ireland, and the fourth biggest in the UK as a whole. The party also won the 2011 Northern Ireland Assembly election, but were second in the 2014 European election. They will be contesting 16 seats, having entered into an electoral pact with the Ulster Unionist Party in 2.
  • Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP): the SDLP were third in terms of votes and seats in the 2010 and 2011 elections, and fourth in the 2014 European elections. They have three MPs. The SDLP has a relationship with the Labour Party in Great Britain, with SDLP MPs generally following the Labour whip. They are expected to support Labour in June in the event of a hung Parliament[42] and are contesting all 18 constituencies at the election.
  • Ulster Unionist Party: in 2010 the UUP shared an electoral alliance with the Conservative Party and finished 4th in terms of votes in Northern Ireland, but won no MPs. However, they have an MEP, having been third in the 2014 European elections. They were fourth in the 2011 Assembly elections. They will contest 15 seats, not running due to an electoral pact with the DUP in 2 seats or in the seat of their former member and current independent MP Lady Hermon.
  • Alliance Party of Northern Ireland: the Alliance Party had an MP (Naomi Long) elected for the first time in 2010. They were fifth in the 2010 election by vote share, fifth overall in 2011 and sixth in 2014. Alliance has a relationship with the Liberal Democrats in Great Britain: the party's former leader sits in the House of Lords as a Liberal Democrat, but Alliance's one MP elected in 2010 sat on the opposition benches in the Commons and not with the Liberal Democrats on the government benches. They are contesting all 18 Northern Irish constituencies in 2015.

Smaller parties in Northern Ireland include Traditional Unionist Voice (standing in 7 seats) and the Green Party in Northern Ireland (standing in 5 seats), both of whom have one current Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). The independent MP Lady Hermon will once again be running for election in North Down.

Candidates[edit]

The deadline for parties and individuals to file candidate nomination papers to the acting returning officer (and the deadline for candidates to withdraw) was 4 p.m. on 9 April 2015.[43][44][45][46] The total number of candidates is 3,971; the is the second-highest number in history, slightly down from the record 4,150 candidates at the last election in 2010.[40][47]

There are a record number of female candidates standing in terms of both absolute numbers and percentage of candidates: 1,020 (26.1%) in 2015, up from 854 (21.1%) in 2010.[40][47] The proportion of female candidates for major parties ranges from 41% of Alliance Party candidates to 12% of UKIP candidates.[48] According to UCL's Parliamentary Candidates UK project [49] the major parties had the following percentages of black and ethnic minority candidates: the Conservatives 11%, the Liberal Democrats 10%, Labour 9%, UKIP 6%, the Greens 4%.[50] The average age of the candidates for the seven major parties is 45.[49]

The youngest candidates are all aged 18: Solomon Curtis (Labour, Wealden); Niamh McCarthy (Independent, Liverpool Wavertree); Michael Burrows (UKIP, Inverclyde) Declan Lloyd (Labour, South East Cornwall); and Laura-Jane Rossington (Communist Party of Britain, Plymouth Sutton and Devonport.[51][52][53] The oldest candidate is Doris Osen, 84, of the Elderly Persons' Independent Party (EPIC), who is standing in Ilford North.[52] Other oldest candidates running in the election include two longtime Labour MPs running for reelection: Sir Gerald Kaufman, 84, of Manchester Gorton, and Dennis Skinner, 83, of Bolsover.

A number of candidates—including two for Labour[54][55] and one for UKIP[56]—were suspended from their respective parties after nominations were closed. One independent candidate died after nominations were closed.[57]

2010 results[edit]

The table below shows the figures for seats won by each party at the 2010 election and the seat changes that have taken place before the next election.

Affiliation Members[58]
After 2010 General Election At dissolution of Parliament
Conservative 306 302
Labour 258 256
Liberal Democrat 57 56
DUP 8 8
SNP 6 6
  Independent
1 5
Sinn Féin 5 5
Plaid Cymru 3 3
SDLP 3 3
UKIP 0 2
Alliance 1 1
Green 1 1
Respect 0 1
  Speaker
1 1
 Total number of seats
650 650
 Actual government majority
83 73
Notes
  • See here for a full list of changes during the fifty-fifth Parliament.
  • The actual government majority is calculated as Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs less all other parties. This calculation excludes the Speaker, Deputy Speakers (two Labour and one Conservative) and Sinn Féin.

MPs not standing for re-election[edit]

While at the previous election there had been a record 148 MPs not standing for re-election,[59] the 2015 election saw 90 MPs standing down.[60] These comprised 38 Conservative, 37 Labour, 3 Independent, 1 Sinn Fein and 1 Plaid Cymru MP. The highest profile Members of Parliament leaving were: Gordon Brown, a former Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party (both 2007-2010) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (1997-2007); and William Hague, the outgoing First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons and former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (2010-2014), Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition (both 1997-2001).[61] Alongside Brown and Hague, 17 former cabinet ministers stood down at the election, including Stephen Dorrell, Jack Straw, Alistair Darling, David Blunkett, Sir Malcolm Rikfind and Dame Tessa Jowell.[61] The highest profile Liberal Democrat to stand down was former leader Sir Menzies Campbell, while the longest serving MP (the "Father of the House") Sir Peter Tapsell also retired having served from 1959-1964 and then continuously since the 1966 general election.[61]

Television debates[edit]

The first series of televised leaders' debates in the United Kingdom were held in the previous election. After much debate and various proposals,[62][63] a seven-way debate with the leaders of Labour, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru was held, with a series of related programmes.

Endorsements[edit]

Various newspapers, organisations and individuals have endorsed parties or individual candidates for the election.

Target seats[edit]

Under the first-past-the-post system, parties usually focus their efforts on winnable seats, described as targeting.

Opinion polling[edit]

━━━━ Conservative   ━━━━ Labour   ━━━━ Lib Dem   ━━━━ UKIP   ━━━━ Greens


Throughout the 55th parliament of the United Kingdom, first and second place in the polls without exception alternated between the Conservatives and Labour. Labour took a lead in the polls in the second half of 2010, driven in part by a collapse in Liberal Democrat support.[64] This lead rose up to approximately 10 points over the Conservative Party during 2012, whose ratings dipped alongside an increase in UKIP support.[65] UKIP passed the Liberal Democrats as the third most popular party at the start of 2013. Following this, Labour's lead over the Conservatives began to fall as UKIP gained support from them as well, [66] and by the end of the year Labour were polling at 39%, compared to 33% for the Conserative Party and 11% for UKIP. [66]

UKIP received 26.6% of the vote at the European elections in 2014, and though their support in the polls for Westminster never reached this level, it did rise up to over 15% through that year. [67] 2014 was also marked by the Scottish independence referendum. Despite the 'No' vote winning, support for the Scottish National Party rose quickly after the referendum, and had reached 43% in Scotland by the end of the year, up 23 points from the 2010 General Election, largely at the expense of Labour (-16% in Scotland) and the Liberal Democrats (-13%).[68] In Wales, where polls were less frequent, 2012-2014 saw a smaller decline in Labour's lead over the second place Conservative Party, from 28 points to 17. [69] These votes went mainly to UKIP (+8%) and Plaid Cymru (+2%). The rise of UKIP and SNP, alongside the smaller increases for Plaid Cymru and the Green Party (from around 2% to 6%) [67] saw the combined support of the Conservative and Labour party fall to a record low of around 65%.[70] Within this, the decline came predominantly from Labour, whose lead fell to under 2 points by the end of 2014. [67] Meanwhile the Liberal Deomcrat vote, which had held at about 10% since late 2010, declined further to approximately 8%. [67]

Early 2015 saw the Labour lead continue to fall, disappearing by the start of March. [71] Polling during the election campaign itself remained relatively static, with the Labour and Conservative parties both polling between 33-34% and neither able to establish a consistent lead. [72] Support for the Green Party and UKIP showed slight drops of around 1-2 points each, while Liberal Democrat support rose up to around 9%.[73] In Scotland, support for the SNP continued to grow with polling figures in late March reaching 54%, with the Labour vote continuing to decline accordingly, [74] while Labour retained their (reduced) lead in Wales, polling at 39% by the end of the campaign, to 26% for the Conservatives, 13% for Plaid Cymru, 12% for UKIP and 6% for the Liberal Democrats. [69]

In addition to the national polls, Lord Ashcroft funded from May 2014 a series of polls in marginal constituencies, and constituencies where minor parties were expected to be significant challengers. Among other results, Lord Ashcroft's polls suggested that the growth in SNP support would translate into over 50 seats; [75] that there was little overall pattern in Labour and Conservative Party marginals; [76] that the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas would retain her seat; [77] that both Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and UKIP leader Nigel Farage would face very close races to be elected in their own constituencies; [78] and that Liberal Democrat MPs would enjoy an incumbency effect that would gain the party more MPs than their national polling implied. [79] Several polling companies included Ashcroft's polls in their election predictions, though several of the political parties disputed his findings [80][81]

Seat predictions[edit]

The first-past-the-post system used in UK general elections means that the number of seats won is not closely related to vote share. [82] Thus, a number of approaches are used to convert polling data and other information into seat predictions. The table below lists a number of regularly updated predictions. ElectionForecast is being used by Newsnight and FiveThirtyEight. May2015.com is a project run by the New Statesman magazine.[83]

Seat predictions draw from nationwide polling, polling in the constituent nations of Britain and may additionally incorporate constituency level polling, particularly the Ashcroft polls. Approaches may or may not use uniform national swing (UNS). Approaches may just use current polling, i.e. a "nowcast" (e.g. Electoral Calculus, May2015.com and The Guardian), or add in a predictive element about how polling shifts based on historical data (e.g. ElectionForecast and Elections Etc.).[84] An alternative approach is to use the wisdom of the crowd and base a prediction on betting activity: the Sporting Index column below covers bets on the number of seats each party will win with the midpoint between asking and selling price, while FirstPastThePost.net aggregates the betting predictions in each individual constituency. Some predictions cover Northern Ireland, with its distinct political culture, while others do not. Parties are sorted by current number of seats in the House of Commons:

Party ElectionForecast[84][85]
(Newsnight Index)
as of 5 May 2015
Electoral Calculus[86]
as of 4 May 2015
Elections Etc[87]
as of 5 May 2015
The Guardian[88]
as of 5 May 2015
May2015.com[89]
as of 4 May 2015
Sporting Index[90]
as of 5 May 2015
First Past the Post[91]
as of 5 May 2015
Conservatives 281 280 289 274 273 289 279
Labour 267 276 257 270 269 265 270
SNP 51 52 53 54 56 47 49
Liberal Democrats 26 18 26 27 28 25 25
DUP 8 Included under Other GB forecast only Included under Other Included under Other No market 8.7
UKIP 1 1 3 3 2 3.3 4
SDLP 3 Included under Other GB forecast only Included under Other Included under Other No market 2.7
Plaid Cymru 4 2 3 3 3 3.35 3.1
Greens 1 1 1 1 1 1.15 0.7
Other Sinn Féin 5
UUP 1
Sylvia Hermon 1
Speaker 1
18 (including 18 NI seats) GB forecast only, but
does not sum to
632 due to rounding
21 (including 18 NI seats) 19 (including 18 NI seats
& Respect 1)
No market Sinn Féin 4.7
Hermon 1
Speaker 1
UUP 1
Respect 0.6
Overall result (probability) Hung Parliament (100%) Hung Parliament (91%) Hung Parliament (91%) Hung Parliament Hung Parliament Hung Parliament Hung Parliament

Other predictions have been published.[92] An election forecasting conference on 27 March 2015 yielded 11 forecasts of the result in Great Britain (including some included in the table above).[93] Averaging the conference predictions gives Labour 283 seats, Conservatives 279, Liberal Democrats 23, UKIP 3, SNP 41, Plaid Cymru 3 and Greens 1.[94] In that situation, no two parties (excluding a Lab-Con coalition) would be able to form a majority without the support of a third. On 27 April, Rory Scott of the bookmaker Paddy Power predicted Conservatives 284, Labour 272, SNP 50, UKIP 3, and Greens 1.[95]

LucidTalk for the Belfast Telegraph have a monthly prediction, incorporating some dedicated polling, of the result in Northern Ireland. Latest prediction: DUP 9, SF 5, SDLP 3, Lady Hermon 1, with the only seat changing hands being the DUP gaining Belfast East from Alliance.[96][97]

Results[edit]

Results are expected on the night of the 7 May and into the morning of 8 May 2015.

Pacts and possible coalitions[edit]

With the United Kingdom electoral system, coalitions have been rare as one party has usually won an overall majority in the Commons. However, with the incoming Government being a coalition and with opinion polls not showing a large or consistent lead for any one party, there has been much discussion about possible post-election coalitions or other arrangements such as confidence and supply agreements.[98] The run-up to the general election was marked by a rise in multi-party politics, with increased support for UKIP, the SNP and the Greens. That, coupled with the two main parties, Conservative and Labour having similar levels of support, has led to discussion of another hung parliament and what government would then be formed.[32] Because of the first past the post electoral system, the number of seats won by parties can be very different from their vote share, complicating predictions.[99][100]

Pre-election pacts[edit]

Some UK political parties that only stand in part of the country have reciprocal relationships with parties standing in other parts of the country. These include:

  • Labour (in Great Britain) and SDLP (in Northern Ireland)
  • Liberal Democrats (in Great Britain) and Alliance (in Northern Ireland)
  • SNP (in Scotland) and Plaid Cymru (in Wales)
    • Plaid Cymru have also recommended supporters in England vote Green,[101] while SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said she would vote for Plaid Cymru were she in Wales, and Green were she in England.[102]
  • Green Party of England and Wales (in England and Wales), Scottish Greens (in Scotland) and the Green Party in Northern Ireland (in Northern Ireland)

On 17 March 2015, Democratic Unionist Party and Ulster Unionist Party agreed an election pact whereby the DUP will not stand candidates in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and Newry and Armagh. In return, the UUP will stand aside in Belfast East and Belfast North. The election pact between the two largest Unionist parties may be advantageous to both parties: the UUP lost their last constituency in 2010, whilst a ninth seat for the DUP would further strengthen their position as the dominant political force in Northern Ireland. The SDLP rejected a similar pact suggested by Sinn Féin.[103][104][105] The DUP has also called on voters in Scotland to support whichever pro-Union candidate is best placed to beat the SNP.[106]

Coalitions[edit]

With Sinn Féin abstaining from Parliament, 323 seats are needed for a majority (presuming Sinn Féin have 5 seats, holding the ultra-marginal of Fermanagh and South Tyrone). Most predictions saw Labour as having more potential support in Parliament than the Conservatives, with several parties having committed to keeping out a Conservative government. [107] [108] The most likely right-of-centre coalition of three parties is seen as being the Conservatives, the UK Independence Party and the Democratic Unionist Party, although a Conservative minister, Rob Wilson, suggested that a second General Election would be more likely than a three-party coalition. [109] The possibility of a Conservative/LibDem/DUP coalition has also been mooted in the media. Likely arrangements on the left of centre would see Labour supported by the SNP, the Liberal Democrats or both. Various smaller parties (Green, Plaid Cymru, SDLP) could also support therm.[110]

Labour and the Conservatives have both insisted that they are working towards winning a majority government, are also reported to be preparing for the possibility of a second election in the year.[111] The Liberal Democrats have said that they will talk first to whichever party wins the most seats.[112]

All three of Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties have rejected the idea of a coalition with the SNP, who polls suggest will finish with the third highest number of seats at the election [113] [114][115] This was particularly notable for Labour, to whom the SNP had previously offered support: their manifesto stated that "the SNP will never put the Tories into power. Instead, if there is an anti-Tory majority after the election, we will offer to work with other parties to keep the Tories out."[116][117] SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon later confirmed in the Scottish leaders' debate on STV that she was prepared to "help make Ed Miliband prime minister."[118] However on 26 April, Miliband ruled out a confidence and supply arrangement with the SNP too.[119] Miliband's comments suggested to many that he was working towards forming a minority government,[120][121] possibly with Liberal Democrat support. [122]

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats ruled out coalitions with UKIP. [123] Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, asked about a deal with UKIP in the Scottish leaders' debate, replied, "No deals with UKIP." She continued that her preference and the Prime Minister's preference in a hung Parliament is for a minority Conservative government.[124] UKIP say they could support minority Conservative government through a confidence and supply arrangement in return for a referendum on EU membership before Christmas 2015. [125] He also spoke of the DUP joining UKIP in this arrangement.[126] UKIP and DUP have said they will work together in Parliament.[127] The DUP have welcomed the possibility of a hung Parliament and the influence that this would bring them.[111] The party's deputy leader, Nigel Dodds, has said that the party could work with the Conservatives or Labour, but that the party is "not interested in a full-blown coalition government".[128] Their leader, Peter Robinson, has said that the DUP will talk first to whichever party wins the most seats.[129] The DUP have said they want, for their support, a commitment to 2% defence spending, a referendum on EU membership, and a reversal of the under-occupation penalty. They oppose the SNP being involved in government.[130][131] The UUP have also indicated that they would not work with the SNP if it wanted another independence referendum in Scotland.[132]

The Green Party of England & Wales, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party have all ruled out working with the Conservatives, and have agreed to work together "wherever possible" to counter austerity.[133][134][135] Each would also make it a condition of any agreement with Labour that Trident nuclear weapons are not replaced; the Green Party of England and Wales have stated that "austerity is a red line."[136] Both Plaid Cymru and the Green Party have stated a preference for also prefer a confidence and supply arrangement with Labour, rather than a coalition.[137][136] The leader of the SDLP, Alasdair McDonnell, has said, "We will be the left-of-centre backbone of a Labour administration", and that, "the SDLP will categorically refuse to support David Cameron and the Conservative Party".[138] Sinn Féin have reiterated their abstentionist stance.[111]

Timetable[edit]

Counting of the votes is expected to be finished on 8 May 2015. Parliament is due to sit again on 18 May and will begin by electing or re-electing the Speaker. The Queen's Speech and State Opening are due on 27 May.[5] After a few days of debate, there will be a vote on the Queen's Speech, which is generally regarded as a test of whether the new government formed can stay in office (although it does not constitute an explicit vote of no confidence under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act).[139]

The UK has an unordered government formation process: that is, the parties can negotiate with each other as they wish. The incumbent ministerial team remain in office until a new government is formed, but are expected not to take any major decisions.[129]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b SNP party leader Nicola Sturgeon, a Member of the Scottish Parliament and First Minister of Scotland, has participated in some of the main UK-wide televised debates, but is not standing for a seat in this election. Angus Robertson, MP for Moray, is the SNP leader in the House of Commons. For the question of a possible post-election leadership role at Westminster for Nicola Sturgeon's predecessor Alex Salmond, see Alex Salmond#2015 Westminster election.
  2. ^ DUP party leader Peter Robinson, a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly and First Minister of Northern Ireland, is not standing in this election. Nigel Dodds, MP, the DUP's current leader in the House of Commons, is again standing for the constituency of Belfast North.[1]
  3. ^ Sinn Féin party leader Gerry Adams, a former MP for Belfast West, is now a Deputy in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Republic of Ireland's Parliament, and is not standing in this election. In any case Sinn Féin's abstentionist policy means that elected Sinn Féin MPs refuse to take their seats in the House of Commons.
  4. ^ a b Plaid Cymru party leader Leanne Wood, a member of the Welsh Assembly, has participated in some of the main UK-wide televised debates, but is not standing for a seat in this election. Elfyn Llwyd, MP, the party's outgoing leader in the House of Commons, is "standing down", and thus is also not standing for a seat in this election.[2][3]
  5. ^ Alliance Party of Northern Ireland leader David Ford, a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Minister of Justice, is not standing in this election. Naomi Long, the party's only outgoing MP, is again standing for the constituency of Belfast East.[4]
  6. ^ After nominations had closed and ballot papers were printed, the Labour candidate in Banff and Buchan, Sumon Hoque, was suspended from the Labour Party when he was charged with multiple driving offences, and the Labour candidate in Wellingborough, Richard Garvie, was also suspended after a conviction for fraud

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External links[edit]

Polls and forecasts[edit]

Constitutional issues[edit]

News sites[edit]

Manifestos[edit]

Boundary Commissions[edit]