The British Electoral Process.

What you need to know.

The United Kingdom (UK) is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government.

A parliamentary system of government is a system of government where the executive branch derives its legitimacy from the legislative arm of government. In the UK parliamentary system, there is a head of government and a head of state. The head of government is the Prime Minister while the Head of State is the Monarch (Queen Elizabeth 2).

The UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Although the United Kingdom is a Sovereign State, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have devolved self-government.

The position of the Prime Minister (PM) belongs to the person who commands the confidence of the House of Commons i.e. the person who leads the party with majority of the House of Commons (the PM is appointed by the Queen who is guided by constitutional conventions). The House of Commons is divided into 650 constituencies with each being manned by an elected Member of Parliament (MP).

Members of the parliament are elected using a first-past-the-post voting system.

How many political parties are in the United Kingdom?

There are two major parties in the UK namely: Conservative Party (also known as the Tory) and Labour Party. Other parties in the UK are: Liberal Democrats(Lib Dems), United Kingdom Independence Party(UKIP), Scottish National Party(SNP), Democratic Unionist Party(DUP), Plaid Cymru(Pronounced PLIGHD KUMri) and Sinn Fein.

When Are General Elections Held?

The General Elections are primarily held at five years interval, however there are exceptions to this as elections could be called for number of reasons e.g. If the PM was confident of getting more MPs than any other Party(i.e. gaining a majority), if a government was defeated on a confidence motion.

Formation of a Government Following a General Election.

As stated earlier a party that wins the most seats in the House of Commons at a General Election forms the new government and its leader becomes then new PM. However, where there is no majority as in the case of the 2010 and 2017 elections a situation known as a “Hung Parliament” occurs. The largest party in this case may then form a Minority Government or there may be a Coalition Government of two or more parties.


By: Abiodun Ogunsanya.

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