GENERAL elections normally take place every five years, however, sometimes a Parliament might ask the monarchy to dissolve the current office or the monarch decides to do so.
Here is everything you need to know about general elections and when to expect the next one.
When is the next general election?
A Parliament can last in office for five years.
After that time, it will automatically dissolve and then the polling day will probably take place 25 days later, not earlier.
The last general election was called in December 2019, as Boris Johnson called one early.
This means that the Parliament will dissolve on Tuesday, December 17, 2024, which allows for a general election to take place on January 24, 2025.
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The re-introduction of the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022 now gives power to the monarch – The King – to dissolve the Parliament if they feel the need to.
Sitting Prime Ministers have the power to call a general election early if they choose.
The contests are traditionally held on the first Thursday of May to coincide with local council votes.
There must be 25 days notice for an election, so candidates can go into campaign mode.
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In order for this to happen, Parliament is dissolved and major Government business suspended.
That means the latest the next contest could be announced is December 29, 2024.
If no earlier election is called, the current parliament will be the first since 2015 to complete a full term.
A provisional date of Thursday, May 2, 2024, has been given for the next general election.
The last election was won by the Conservatives with a 364-seat majority, this has dropped to 358 seats since the by-election losses.
Can a general election be called before the next set date?
Yes., there are several reasons why the next general election might be called before May 2, 2024.
An election called earlier than originally scheduled is known as a snap election.
In 2017, Theresa May called an early election, a decision which cost the Tories their majority.
The last general election, called by Mr Johnson in 2019, was also early.
However, it is not likely that a snap election will be called by the Prime Minister any time soon.
Johnson was ousted as the leader of the Conservative Party after an onslaught of resignations from his ministers.
This led to him resigning as PM as well as party leader.
A leadership election took place which saw Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss going head-to-head in the pools, however, Truss came out on top to become the third female UK prime minister.
As previously said, the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022 "revived the power of the monarch to dissolve Parliament, at the request of the Prime Minister of the day."
This means that the monarchy can now request a new Parliament and hence have an earlier general election.
What could cause a snap election?
The Prime Minister can choose to call a General Election whenever they wish before their five year term is up.
Former PM David Cameron brought in new rules in 2011 that limited the powers of premiers to trigger snap contests.
He introduced the Fixed Term Parliament Act to provide stability for his coalition with Nick Clegg's Lib Dems.
Under it an election could only be called if a two-thirds supermajority of MPs vote in favour or the Government lost a confidence motion.
But the act had unintended consequences and led to parliamentary gridlock during the Brexit talks.
It meant ex premier Mrs May, who was a lame duck without a majority, was unable to force an election.
Mr Johnson scrapped the legislation in March 2022 and returned to the system where the PM is in control of triggering a national vote.
Can the public force a general election?
Under the Fixed-Term Parliament Act 2011, there was no way the public could force a general election.
The rules restricted the reasoning for an election so it could not be swayed by public opinion or petitions.
The power to call a general election whenever theoretically means that if there was enough strength of public opinion one could be called.
However, it is highly unlikely that a sitting PM would call a snap election due to public pressure.
The public is far more likely to want a general election when they are unhappy with the current leadership so the sitting PM would probably lose in that scenario.
Public pressure and appeals would have to be overwhelming but only the PM – or the King theoretically – could force a general election.
How often are general elections in the UK?
A full parliamentary term in the UK can last up to five years, with general elections held on the first Thursday of May.
Now that the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 is gone prime ministers can call an election whenever they wish.
This tends to be every four or five years, when it is most beneficial to them and their party.
Leaders in a strong position typically go to the people earlier, with those fearing a loss waiting out the full duration of their term.
Parties in a weaker position are more likely to wait until the term is up or resolve issues without a general election.
Votes of confidence can be taken to vote out a leader who is not providing what the party needs, this can be done to a sitting PM as well as the opposition.
If a sitting PM is ousted from their party, a leadership contest takes place rather than a general election.
Why are elections always held on a Thursday?
Every general election since 1935 has been held on a Thursday.
Before this the day varied across the mid-week days, with the occasional Saturday.
It is suggested that because Thursday was traditionally market day, meaning more people would already be in town, it could potentially result in a higher turnout.
Others suggest that a Friday election could lead to more drunken votes due to a Friday pay day, while a Sunday election could be influenced by Sunday sermons.
Another reason is that a Thursday election would allow the nation to find out the result on Friday and give the new leader the weekend to appoint their Cabinet before entering their first full week as PM.
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But this system caused issues for the UK when we were a member of the EU, because most European nations hold theirs on Sundays.
That meant votes cast for MEPs had to be locked away for three days to be counted at the same time as on the rest of the continent.
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