Next United Kingdom general election
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The next United Kingdom general election will be the election to the 56th parliament of the United Kingdom. The terms of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 mandate that the election will be held on 7 May 2015 (except in the event of a collapse of government or a two-thirds majority of MPs voting for an early election).
In the general election, voting will take 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 the Parliament.
This will be the 55th general election for the United Kingdom since 1801 (earlier elections took place for parliaments in Great Britain and Ireland), though the resultant Parliament will be the 56th, as the first Parliament came about after the co-option of members from the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland.
The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 provided for the reduction of the number of seats in the Commons from the current 650 to 600. It also instructs the Boundary Commissions to undertake the Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies before 2014, which involves a notable redistribution of seats between the four parts of the UK and the near-equalisation of constituency sizes by registered electorate. In accordance with this, the Boundary Commissions are undertaking a full revision of constituency boundaries with an instruction to reduce the number of constituencies to 600 and to recommend constituencies which are no more than 5% above or below the standard size. The Boundary Commissions are required to produce their reports by 1 October 2013. However, these were not expected to be approved by the Commons given opposition by Labour and the Liberal Democrats after, in August 2012, Liberal Democrats Party Leader Nick Clegg announced that his party would oppose the implementation of the new constituency boundaries as a reaction to the failure of the Government to enact House of Lords reform. On 29 January 2013, the proposed boundary changes were effectively rejected by the House of Commons after MPs voted by a margin of 334 - 292 to approve an amendment that delayed the boundary review until after the next general election. The next boundary review is now set to take place in 2018, meaning that the next general election must be contested using the same constituencies and boundaries as the 2010 election.
In addition, the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act mandated a referendum in 2011 on changing from current first-past-the-post system to the Alternative Vote system for elections to the Commons. The Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement committed the coalition government to such a referendum. The referendum was held in May 2011 and resulted in the retention of the existing First Past The Post 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. The Conservatives, however, promised to keep the first past the post, but to cut the number of constituencies by 10%. Liberal Democrat plans were to reduce the number of MPs to 500 elected using a proportional system.
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 were to obtain a majority of seats, then that party would be 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 coalition government or a minority government.
If Scotland votes to leave the United Kingdom in the independence referendum on 18 September 2014, it is expected that a 2015 General Election would still take place in Scotland, but the status and role of MPs elected in Scotland would be unclear.
Date of the election 
Previous law 
An election was usually called following the dissolution of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The power to dissolve Parliament was a Royal Prerogative, exercised by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Sovereign had not refused a request for dissolution since the beginning of the 20th century; the guidelines under which this might theoretically occur are known as the Lascelles Principles after the King's private secretary who set them out. As a result, incumbent Prime Ministers often chose to call a general election at a time when they believed they enjoyed a temporary tactical advantage.
Under the provisions of the Septennial Act 1715, 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. Since the enactment of the 1715 Act, Parliament has never been allowed to expire. The previous general election, held on 6 May 2010, elected MPs to the 55th Parliament which began on 18 May 2010; as such, Parliament would expire at the end of 17 May 2015. Since the last day that a proclamation summoning a new Parliament could be issued is this day of expiration, the election timetable dictated that the latest possible date for the election was 11 June 2015.
A constituency may occasionally be 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.
Fixed-term Parliaments Act 
Prior to the 2010 general election, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats pledged to introduce fixed-term elections. 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. This would have coincided with elections for the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales, which are held on a four-year, fixed-term basis. In response to cross-party criticism of this, Nick Clegg offered each devolved body the right to vary their length of tenure by a year in either direction. Therefore, the next elections to the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales will take place in 2016.
The act removed the Royal Prerogative to dissolve Parliament. As a result of this, a prime minister no longer has the power to advise the monarch to call an early election. The bill originally only permitted early dissolution if Parliament voted for one by a supermajority of 55%. A government could still lose a vote of no confidence and be replaced on a normal majority of over 50%. Later, the Government amended the bill to to increase the proposed supermajority to two-thirds, as is used by the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. When doing so, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg clarified that Parliament would be dissolved if no new government could be formed within 14 days of a no-confidence vote. The bill passed Parliament in this amended form.
MPs standing down 
- James Arbuthnot (North East Hampshire), announced 6 June 2011
- Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North), announced 17 January 2013 
- Charles Hendry (Wealden), announced 1 March 2013
- Peter Luff (Mid Worcestershire), announced 5 September 2012
- Richard Ottaway (Croydon South), announced 28 May 2012
- Sir Jim Paice (South East Cambridgeshire), announced 8 March 2013 
- Sir John Stanley (Tonbridge and Malling), announced 23 March 2012
- Bob Ainsworth (Coventry North East) announced 7 December 2012.
- Martin Caton (Gower) announced 11 March 2012.
- John Denham (Southampton Itchen), announced 7 October 2011
- Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Kilburn), announced 23 June 2011
- Dawn Primarolo (Bristol South), announced 10 November 2011
- Nick Raynsford (Greenwich and Woolwich), announced 22 March 2013
- Dame Joan Ruddock (Lewisham Deptford), announced 12 January 2013
Liberal Democrat 
Political parties 
As of 17 September 2010[update], the Electoral Commission's Register of Political Parties includes 392 different political parties registered in Great Britain, and 43 in Northern Ireland. In addition, candidates who do not belong to a registered party can use "independent" or no label at all.
Possible target seats 
The Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies has been effectively postponed until 2018, which means the next election will be held without new boundaries being agreed. It will use the same boundaries as the previous election (2010). Listed below are some of the top target seats for those parties which won seats at the 2005 or 2010 general elections, ranked by the percentage swing required. These may not be the seats where parties choose to target their resources. In January 2013, Labour published its list of 106 target seats for the next election.
|SNP targets||Swing Required||Plaid Cymru targets||Swing Required|
|1||Ochil & Perthshire South (LAB)||5.14%||Ynys Môn (LAB)||3.55%|
|Green Party targets||Swing Required||Respect targets||Swing Required|
|1||Norwich South (LD)||7.20%||Birmingham Hall Green (LAB)||3.9%|
|UUP targets||Swing Required||Sinn Féin targets||Swing Required||SDLP targets||Swing Required||DUP targets||Swing Required||Alliance targets||Swing Required|
|1||South Antrim (DUP)||1.74%||Belfast North (DUP)||3.01%||Newry and Armagh (SF)||9.3%||Belfast East (A)||2.22%||Belfast South (SDLP)||15.00%|
TV debates 
The first series of televised leaders debates in the United Kingdom were held in the previous election. Comments from senior politicians such as Prime Minister David Cameron have made it clear that they intend to hold another series of televised debates in the run up to the 2015 election, although they will likely take on a different format, as Cameron felt that they dominated the campaign. It has been proposed that the TV debates could start as early as 2014, presumably after the Parliamentary summer recess as not to have an impact on the elections to the European Parliament. It has also been suggested that the debates could still take place in 2015 before the election campaign begins over the longer period of January, February and March.
There is media speculation from individuals such as Michael Crick of Channel 4 News as to who may be included in TV debates. He suggested that if UKIP's political fortunes were to continue to improve, and they do not receive sufficient coverage, they could make a legal case against broadcasters that under-represent the party, if the leaders of the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats are included. The Prime Minister has dismissed the call for UKIP's participation. The Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband said in January 2013 that the composition of each debate was a matter for the media organisations
Opinion polling 
The chart shows the relative state of the parties from 13 May 2010 to the date the next election is held, with each line's colour corresponding to a political party: blue for the Conservatives, red for Labour, yellow for the Liberal Democrats and purple for the UKIP. Each dot represents a party's results from an opinion poll displayed in the tables below. The lines are created by an eight-data-point moving average.
See also 
- Electoral Calculus, prediction of future general election results using mathematical modelling
- European Parliament election, 2014 (United Kingdom)
- "Peers end deadlock over fixed term parliaments". BBC News Online. 14 September 2011.
- Rowena Mason. "Coalition split over boundary reform delays new voting laws". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- Jowit, Juliette (6 August 2012). "Nick Clegg blocks boundary changes after Lords reform retreat". The Guardian.
- Wintour, Patrick (29 January 2013). "Lib Dems vote with Labour to reject constituency boundary review". The Guardian.
- "Full text: Conservative-LibDem deal". BBC News. 2010-05-12. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- "Where They Stand: Guide to party election policies". BBC News. 26 March 2010.
- How Strong is the Case for Reducing the Number of MPs? Democratic Audit
- Q&A - Boundary Changes BBC News
- "Why the Scottish referendum date matters". The Guardian. 2008-07-16. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- "Research Paper 07/31: Election Timetables". House of Commons Library.
- "Thirsk and Malton candidate death delays poll date". BBC News. 22 April 2010.
- "Full text of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition deal". The Guardian (London). 12 May 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- House of Commons Debate 5 July 2010 c 23.
- "Tory MP James Arbuthnot to step down for 'new challenge'". BBC News Online. 6 June 2011.
- "Cardiff North Conservative MP Jonathan Evans to step down". BBC News Online. 17 January 2013.
- Hendry, Charles (1 March 2013). "Letter from Charles Hendry MP".
- "Ex-minister Peter Luff to leave Parliament at next election". BBC News Online. 5 September 2012.
- "Conservative MP Richard Ottaway to step down at election". BBC News Online. 27 October 2012.
- "Cambridgeshire MP Sir Jim Paice 'will not stand again'". BBC News Online. 8 March 2013.
- "Sir John Stanley MP announces his retirement". ConservativeHome. 24 March 2012.
- "Bob Ainsworth to step down as Coventry North East MP". BBC News (BBC). 7 December 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
- Gower MP Martin Caton is ready to stand down This Is South Wales
- "Denham to stand down as MP". Southern Daily Echo. 7 October 2011.
- Graham, Georgia (23 June 2011). "Glenda Jackson won’t stand in next election". Ham & High.
- "Bristol South MP Dawn Primarolo to stand down". BBC News online. 11 November 2011.
- "Labour MP Nick Raynsford to stand down at next election". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
- Chandler, Mark. "Lewisham Deptford MP Joan Ruddock to stand down at next election". News Shopper. Retrieved 12/01/1203.
- March 2013 - Reporting Back Annette Brook
- Musson, Chris; Crichton, Torcuil; Lyons, James (2 March 2012). "Shamed MP Eric Joyce admits affair with schoolgirl but won't quit Parliament until next election". Daily Record.
- "Party Finance - the Electoral Commission". Electoral Commission. 16 September 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
- "Register of political parties (Northern Ireland)". Electoral Commission. 16 September 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
- "List of Labour's 106 target seats for 2015". Politicshome.com. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- As compared to the 2010 General Election result, not the 2011 by-election result
- "TV debates could take place a year before election day". Retrieved 7 January 2013.
- "Will There Be Election Debates In 2015, And Who Will Fight Them?". Retrieved 7 January 2013.
- "After Rotherham, Ukip aims to top the 2014 Euro poll". Retrieved 7 January 2013.
- "Can UKIP become a serious political party?". Retrieved 7 January 2013.
- David Cameron: Don't put UKIP in general election TV debate Evening Standard
- Ukip could get a place in TV election debates Daily Telegraph
Boundary Commissions 
- Boundary Commission for England
- Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland
- Boundary Commission for Scotland
- Boundary Commission for Wales ((in Welsh)