Elections

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What is a general election?

A general election is how the British public decide who they want to represent them in Parliament and, ultimately, run the country. Everyone who is eligible – and registered (see below) – gets to vote for one candidate to represent their local area, which is known in Parliament as a constituency.

The candidates standing for election are usually drawn from political parties, but can also stand as independents. The person with the most votes in a constituency is elected as its MP, to represent that area in the House of Commons.

The leader of the political party with the most MPs after the election is expected to be asked by the Queen to become prime minister and form a government to run the country. The leader of the political party with the second highest number of MPs normally becomes leader of the opposition. Once elected, MPs work both in your area – or their constituency – dealing with local matters, and in Parliament, where they vote and help shape law, alongside 649 other MPs.

Why is there going to be a general election on 8 June 2017?

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has called a general election on 8 June 2017 – three years earlier than scheduled.

Mrs May’s official reason for holding an election was to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations. She claimed Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems would try to destabilise and frustrate the process in Parliament. But Mrs May’s Conservative Party has a big opinion poll lead over Labour so she will be hoping the election will see her getting a bigger majority in the House of Commons, tightening her grip on power.

As things stand, it does not take many Conservative MPs to decide they don’t like something the government is doing to get it derailed. Mrs May is also tied to the promises made by the Conservatives at the 2015 election, when David Cameron was prime minister.

She has made a few changes – such as backing grammar schools and easing plans to reduce the deficit – but an election gives her the chance to set out her own vision for Britain.

Where do the parties stand in the opinion polls?

Find out the latest picture with the BBC’s poll tracker. The latest polls have shown the Conservatives ahead, but that their longstanding lead over Labour has narrowed.

What is a manifesto?

A manifesto sets out what a party would do if it won the election.

Each political party produces one in the run-up to a general election to say what it thinks is important, what it believes should happen in society and the changes it would make.

Promises made in manifestos can be instrumental in deciding which party people vote for – and the party which is elected can come in for severe criticism if it does not keep them once in power.

What manifestos have been published?

The Conservatives published their manifesto on 18 May with Theresa May promising a
“mainstream government that will deliver for mainstream Britain”.

Labour’s manifesto was launched on 16 May – Jeremy Corbyn
pledged to raise the income tax rate for earnings over £80,000 and £123,000.

The Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto on
17 May with leader Tim Farron promising a second EU referendum.

The SNP unveiled their manifesto on 30 May with a call for a Scottish
referendum at the end of the Brexit process.

Plaid Cymru promised to give Wales a “strong voice” in Brexit when it
launched its manifesto on 16 May 2017.

How do i register to vote?

It’s too late to register to vote in the general election on 8 June. You can register to vote in future elections online

How do i vote by post?

It’s now too late to apply for a postal vote. If you have already applied, post your completed ballot paper and voting statement back as soon as possible so they arrive in time. Alternatively, forms can be handed into your local polling station by 22:00 BST on polling day.

What about students who live away from home?

Students may be registered at both their home address, and at a university or college address. It all depends whether you spend an equal amount of time at each and, ultimately, the
electoral registration officer will decide whether or not someone can register at both.

At the general election, it is an offence to vote more than once.

What if i'm on holiday?

You can vote either by post or by proxy – which is where you appoint someone else to register your vote on your behalf. To do that you can download the form here.

Whoever you nominate must be eligible to vote in the election themselves. The deadline for applying to vote by proxy for 8 June was set as 5pm on Wednesday 31 May. Details of where to find your local registration office are on this site.

Why is this a surprise or snap election?

Prime ministers used to be free to hold an election whenever they felt like it – but under the 2011 Fixed Term Parliaments Act, a general election is supposed to take place every five years on the first Thursday in May, which is why the next one was scheduled for May 2020.

What does the general election mean to Brexit?

Britain is still on course to officially leave the European Union on Friday 29 March 2019. Negotiations with other EU nations are not due to start until June, meaning the election will probably be over and a new government in place before any serious talking gets under way in Brussels.

The Conservative Party says this is a “one-off chance to hold an election while the European Union agrees its negotiating position”. If Mrs May wins by a big margin in the UK, she will see it as a vote of confidence in her strategy for leaving the EU.

But if her slender House of Commons majority is cut further or she loses the election – with anti Brexit parties such as the Liberal Democrats getting many more MPs – then the UK’s current Brexit strategy will be up for grabs.

There’s a summary of ,where Britain’s  parties stand on Brexit,  if you’d like to read it.

Who is standing?

The main parties faced a race against time to get candidates in place and some streamlined their normal selection procedures, with more candidates chosen centrally.

Some 68 parties and 191 independent candidates contribute to a total of 3,304 people standing for Parliament this year – a decrease of 664 from 2015.