General elections

All Standard Notes
28 Documents
03.02.2015Election 'purdah' or the pre-election period
The term 'purdah' has come into popular use across central and local government to describe the period of time immediately before elections or referendums when specific restrictions on the activity of civil servants are in place. The term 'pre-election period' is also used. The Government has recently announced that pre-election purdah before the next general election will begin on 30 March 2015, the same day as the dissolution of Parliament.
28.01.2015Dissolution of Parliament
Under provisions in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, Parliament is dissolved automatically 25 working days before a general election. The Act sets the date of the next general election as 7 May 2015, accordingly this Parliament will dissolve on 30 March 2015.
14.01.2015Televised debates between party leaders
This note sets out the background to the current debate about televised debates between party leaders during a general election campaign. Three debates were held for the first time in the UK during the 2010 general election. The BBC, ITV News, Sky News and Channel 4 have put forward proposals to change the format of the televised leaders' debates to be held before the 2015 general election.
05.01.2015Prisoners' voting rights
Prisoners serving a custodial sentence do not have the right to vote. Prisoners on remand are able to vote under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 2000. This Standard Note provides a narrative of events following the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on 6 October 2005, the Hirst case, that the UK's current ban on all serving prisoners from voting contravenes Article 3 of Protocol No 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
11.12.2014Voting systems in the UK
This Standard Note provides brief details of the different voting systems currently used in the United Kingdom.
11.11.2014Overseas voters
This Note provides background to the provisions relating to overseas voters in the Representation of the People Act 1985 which was subsequently amended by the Representation of the People Act 1989 and the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. Information is also given about the procedure for registering to vote as an overseas elector and the means of voting, either by post or by proxy.
10.09.2014Timetable for the UK Parliamentary General election
The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 fixes the date of the next general election as 7 May 2015, and provides for five year intervals between elections. The Act ends the prerogative power of dissolution. The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 made provision for lengthening the UK Parliamentary election timetable, both for general and by-elections. These provisions have been brought into force and Parliament will have to be dissolved 25 rather than 17 days before the general election on 7 May 2015.
22.05.2014Pre-election contacts between civil servants and opposition parties
By convention, opposition parties are entitled to enter into confidential discussions with senior civil servants in the run-up to a general election. This note outlines the current arrangements and also provides a brief history of the convention.
15.01.2014Prisoners' voting rights - in brief
On 6 October 2005 the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the Hirst case, found that the UK's current ban on all serving prisoners from voting contravenes Article 3 of Protocol No 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The issue of prisoner voting has become linked with the overall question of compliance with the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights. This note briefly draws together Library material on the issue and summarises Standard Note 1764, Prisoners' voting rights, which provides a narrative of events following the judgment.
02.05.2013Party Political Broadcasts
This note sets out the current arrangements for party political broadcasts including such matters as their allocation, frequency, length and content.
28.02.2013General Election results: Social Indicators page
General Election results: headline data and trends.
18.12.2012All-women shortlists
This note looks at the background to the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002 which allowed political parties to draw up all-women shortlists of candidates for elections; and its extension. It gives details of Labour candidates selected through all-women shortlists and methods of positive action used by the main political parties to increase the number of women MPs.
14.03.2012Postal voting and electoral fraud 2001-09
This note gives a brief history of postal voting and sets out the main electoral offences. It covers the period 2001-09; for information about electoral fraud since 2010 see Standard Note 6255, Electoral fraud since 2010.
12.07.2011Armed Forces Voting
The Note also gives a brief history of how the system of voting by members of the Armed Forces has changed, particularly during the periods directly after each World War.
04.03.2011Sizes of Constituency Electorates
The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act contains measures to set the number of UK parliamentary constituencies at 600 and to limit the permitted variation in the number of registered electors for a constituency. This note considers the possible impact by region of the proposals in the Bill and compares the sizes of constituency electorates at 1 December 2010. It looks at the variation in electorate sizes about national and regional means and about the UK Electoral Quota as defined in the Act.
21.02.2011The Parliamentary Voting system and Constituencies Bill: summary of amendments
15.02.2011Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill: Lords stages
This Note summarises the Lords stages of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010-11. It supplements Research Paper 10/55 which was produced for the Bill's second reading in the House of Commons and Research Paper 10/72 which summarises all the Commons stages of the Bill.
28.07.2010Redistributing parliamentary boundaries: some international comparisons
This note describes how constituency boundaries are redrawn in a number of other countries: Canada, Australia, the USA and France. Much of the material in the note is taken from a key text on the subject, Redistributing in comparative perspective edited by Lisa Handley and Bernard Grofman.
03.06.2010Hung parliaments
This note sets out situations where there has been no overall control in the House of Commons during the twentieth century. It considers precedents and conventions governing how the monarch might decide which party should form a government in such a situation, and when a request for a dissolution might be granted. The note also considers how a minority government or coalition might affect the work of Parliament. Lastly, it looks briefly at the formation of coalition governments in Scotland and Wales.
23.04.2010Timing of Parliamentary election counts
There has been speculation in the press about the timing of counts at the general election. This note looks at the statutory requirements concerning the count and summarises recent reports suggesting that the count will be moved from Thursday night to Friday in certain areas.
02.04.20102010 General Election: new constituencies; seats and swing
The 2010 General Election will use new constituency boundaries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland the boundaries will be the same as 2005. After the election there will be 650 seats in the House of Commons, four more than the 646 now. In partisan terms, the new areas give a net benefit to the Conservatives. If the 2005 election had been fought on the new boundaries the Conservatives would have gained around 12 additional seats and Labour seven fewer.
26.03.2010Electorate statistics 2009
This Note provides data on the number of electors and attainers in each parliamentary constituency as at 1 December 2009, published by the Office for National Statistics on 26 February 2010.
This note provides a brief outline of the procedures followed at the end of Parliament to ensure the enactment of some of the legislation that has not completed its passage through Parliament when a general election is called. The note also gives details of the time available for wash-up following the announcement of general elections since 1983.
01.03.2010Election publications: printer and publisher details
This note discusses the requirement in election law for a candidate's election leaflets and other documents to carry the name and address of the printer and publisher. It discusses the category of offence within which a failure to do so falls, and the other different types of election offices. It also discusses the ability of someone guilty of an 'offence' to apply for relief as a result of inadvertence.
17.12.2009Donations to Members of Parliament
From 1 July 2009 Members no longer have to report certain donations to both the Electoral Commission and Registrar of Members' Interests. The Note examines the history behind this dual requirement enacted in the Political Parties, Election and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA). Section 59 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 provided for dual registration to end, but implementation of this provision was delayed until July 2009. The Note also sets out the new limits on donations which have to be declared by Members, enacted in the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009.
23.09.2009Candidate selection-Primaries
This Note looks at the possibility of introducing primaries into the candidate selection processes of UK political parties, following the experiment of an open primary in Totnes, Devon, by the Conservative Party. It also examines experience of primaries in the United States, where the procedure is well established.
16.03.2009Candidates' addresses on the ballot paper
A new clause was added to the Political Parties and Elections Bill at report stage on 2 March 2009 which would allow candidates to withhold their home address from publication. There has been a provision to require a candidate to give his home address on the nomination form, from where it is transferred to the ballot paper, since the Ballot Act 1872. This Note looks at the background to this requirement and at earlier calls for the practice to be discontinued.
05.09.20083-way marginal seats
3-way marginal seats. By Sean Lightbown. SN/SG/3425.
All Research Papers
8 Documents
07.08.2012UK Election Statistics: 1918-2012
This paper presents an overview of results from UK elections since 1918, including elections to the House of Commons, the European Parliament, devolved bodies and local government.
11.02.2011Wash-up 2010
The wash-up period at the end of a Parliament allows a Government to get onto the statute book essential or non-controversial legislation that would not otherwise complete its passage through Parliament because of Dissolution. This paper describes the wash-up process; reviews the proceedings on wash-up in 2010; and provides details of Bills that received Royal Assent in each of the last six wash-up periods.
02.02.2011General Election 2010
No single party won an overall majority at the 2010 General Election, for the first time in the UK since February 1974. The Conservatives won the most seats, 306, a net change of 96 compared with notional 2005 general election results. Labour were down by 90 seats, leaving them with 258, while the Liberal Democrat total of 57 was five fewer than 2005. General Election 2010 provides detailed analysis of the results of the 2010 General Election. The data for votes cast and electorates agree with the official results published by the Electoral Commission. This Research Paper replaces the analysis published on 8 July 2010 which used provisional data.
11.11.2010Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010-11: Commons Stages
This Paper summarises all Commons stages of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010-11. It supplements Research Paper 10/55 which was produced for the Bill's Second Reading and replaces Standard Note 5697 'Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill: Progress of the Bill'. No major changes were made during the passage of the Bill in the Commons, but the text of the referendum question was altered and legislative provision was made for the combination of polls on 5 May 2011.
01.09.2010The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill [Bill 63 of 2010-11]
This Paper has been prepared for the Second Reading debate in the House of Commons. The Bill seeks to enable the next general election to be fought under the Alternative Vote system, provided this change is endorsed in a referendum on 5 May 2011 and boundary changes have been made to reduce the size of the House of Commons to 600. New rules for the redistribution of seats are designed to give primacy to numerical equality in constituencies and regular redistributions would take place every five years.
13.05.2009Election timetables
01.02.2008Election Statistics: UK 1918-2007
This paper has been superseded by Research Paper 12/43, UK Election Statistics: 1918-2012.
10.03.2006General Election 2005
General Election 2005. House of Commons Library Research Paper 05/33