Next United Kingdom general election
|due on 7 May 2020|
|This lists parties that currently hold seats.|
|2005 election • MPs|
|2010 election • MPs|
|2015 election • MPs|
The next general election in the United Kingdom is due to be held on Thursday 7 May 2020, in line with the Fixed term Parliaments Act; it may be held at an earlier date in the event of a vote of no confidence or similar exceptional circumstances. It will elect the 57th Parliament of the United Kingdom.
In UK general elections, voting takes place in 650 constituencies to elect Members of Parliament (MPs) to seats in the House of Commons, the lower house of the Parliament. The leader of the resultant government will become the Prime Minister.
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, with its leader as Prime Minister. 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.
The postponed Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies is set to take place before the election, in 2018.
Date of the election
The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 introduced fixed-term Parliaments to the UK, with elections scheduled every five years following from the 2015 election on 7 May 2015. This removed the ability of the monarch, acting on advice of the Prime Minister, to dissolve Parliament before its five-year maximum length, except in specific circumstances. The Bill permits early dissolution if the House of Commons votes by a supermajority of two-thirds. A government can still lose a vote of no confidence by a majority of just over 50%, requiring it to resign. Parliament will be dissolved if no new government can be formed within 14 days of a no-confidence vote.
Should these not occur, the election will take place on 7 May 2020. By Section 14 of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013, the current Parliament will be dissolved 25 working days before this, which, assuming that Good Friday, Easter Monday and the first Monday in May are UK public holidays in 2020 (as they have been for many years), the date of dissolution will be Monday 30 March 2020. The Prime Minister has 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 2020. Such a Statutory Instrument must be approved by each House of Parliament. Furthermore, individual constituencies may be forced to delay their elections. In both the 2005 and 2010 general elections, one constituency delayed its poll due to the death of a candidate.
Contesting political parties and candidates
Candidates are usually representatives of a political party, which must be registered with the Electoral Commission's Register of Political Parties. 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. Both parties are likely to enter the election with different leaders from the 2015 election. David Cameron, who has been leader of the Conservative Party since 2005 and Prime Minister since 2010, announced in March 2015 that he would stand-down as Conservative Party leader at some point before the end of the 56th Parliament, though no date has been given for this. The Labour Party, who are the Official Opposition party are conducting a leadership election following the resignation of Ed Miliband in the aftermath of the previous election. A new leader will be announced in September 2015.
While the Liberal Democrats and their predecessors had long been the 'third party' in British politics, they finished the 2015 election with fewer MPs than the Scottish National Party (SNP) and fewer votes than the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). Tim Farron became the Liberal Democrat leader in July 2015 following the resignation of Nick Clegg, with an aim of rebuilding the party's representation after they lost 49 MPs in the 2015 election. The SNP, led by First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, do not stand in all of Great Britain but won 56 of 59 Scottish seats in 2015, an increase of 50 MPs. They will likely stand in all Scottish seats again at the next election, although their role will depend upon the 2016 election to the Scottish Parliament and whether their manifesto for that election includes a pledge for a referendum for Scottish independence, following the victory for 'no' in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. UKIP, led by Nigel Farage won 12.7% of the vote in 2015 but only gained 1 MP. As UKIP was founded with the UK's departure from the EU as a constitutional aim, their role at the next general election will be shaped by the results of the proposed referendum on the UK's membership of the EU. The referendum - included in the May 2015 Queen's Speech outlining government policy - is likely to take place in October 2016. The Green Party and Plaid Cymru were the other parties in Great Britain to return MPs at the 2015 general election, and are also likely to contest the next election along with hundreds of minor parties.
Politics in Northern Ireland is largely separate from the rest of the UK. All Northern Irish parties who returned MPs at the 2015 general election (Democratic Unionist Party (8); Sinn Féin (4); Social Democratic and Labour Party (3); Ulster Unionist Party (2)) will likely contest the next election, though the immediate priority for these and other Northern Irish parties will be the 2016 election to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Sinn Féin is likely to continue its policy of abstentionism and not take any seats won at the next general election. Sylvia Hermon, the only independent MP elected in 2015, has not announced whether she will stand in the next election.
At the 2015 election, all major opinion polls failed to predict the election result accurately. All pollsters forecasted a hung Parliament, underestimating the Conservative Party vote by an average of 4.2 points and overestimating the Labour Party vote by an average of 2.4 points. Almost immediately following the election polling companies started making changes to polling practices, with recommendations from a review by the British Polling Council likely to see further alterations.
- Cameron is the current Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister, but he said during the 2015 general election campaign that he would not seek a third term; thus he is expected to stand down before the next general election.
- Sinn Féin are abstentionist and do not take up their seats.
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