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British Life and Culture

by Mandy Barrow

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British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales
General Elections

A UK Parliament has a maximum duration of five years. At the end of the five year or before, a general election must take place so new members of parliament can be elected by the people.

What is a General Election?

The election of all Members of Parliament (MPs) for each constituency (local area) is called a General Election. In the UK we vote for the best candidate in our local area to represent us in the House of Commons.

The UK system is not like the US system where you vote for the President/Vice-President, then your local representatives separately.  In the UK, the winning candidate becomes MP and takes a seat in the House of Commons.  The party with the majority of seats in the Commons gets to form the government.  That party’s leader becomes Prime Minister.

In the UK we have the House of Commons and the House of Lords. We can only vote for a MP to represent us in the House of Commons. The Lords are appointed or inherited.

How often do General Elections take place?

General elections have to take place at least every five years and are called by the Prime Minister (the leader of the Government).

When was the last General Election?

The last General Election was in 2010. No single party won enough majority of seats to form the government alone. So in order to form a government two or more parties had to join together. David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, formed a new government, in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

Who can become a MP?

People are nominated as candidates to become MPs. Any one over the age of 21 can be a candidate.

How does an MP get a seat in Parliament?

When an MP gets the most votes for his constituency (local area) he gains a seat. This means he has a place in Parliament.


Did you know?
In the US, there are general elections every four years for the presidency and every two years for governor, senate and congressional seats. Those in-between general elections where the presidency is not determined are called mid-term elections. And the date chosen is always the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. However, there may be local elections that are called as needed by local councils.

How Britain is Governed | Parliament

House of Parliament | Elections | Government

Prime Minister | House of Commons

Making and Passing Laws

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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the Mandy Barrow.

© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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