In the United Kingdom, a general election must take place every five years. The result of a general election decides who will be in charge of the UK government for the next five years, and who will be the Prime Minister.
The United Kingdom is divided into 650 small areas, called constituencies. The people who live in each constituency can vote for a candidate who is standing in the election. The candidate who receives the most votes will be elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for that constituency. Most candidates represent a political party. There are several political parties in the UK. The Conservative party is a right-wing party which promotes lowering taxes by reducing the size of government. It is a very well established political party which has governed the UK many times. Well known Prime Ministers from the Conservative party include Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and the current Prime Minister, David Cameron. The Labour party is a left-wing party which promotes workers’ rights and wants greater funding for government workers. These are the two main parties, but there are many other smaller parties. The Liberal Democrats consider themselves a centrist party, positioning themselves as a middle option between the Conservative and Labour parties. The Green party is concerned with environmental issues and believes university should be free for all students. There is also the Scottish National Party which wants Scotland to be an independent country, and a party called Sinn Fein which promotes Northern Irish independence. Finally there is the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) which believes the UK should leave the European Union and wants tighter immigration controls.
The candidate who wins in their constituency will go to Parliament in London. If a political party has a majority of their candidates in Parliament, that party wins the election and will govern the country until the next election. If no party has a majority, then parties must form alliances and cooperatively govern the country as a coalition government. This week, everyone in the UK will have the opportunity to vote for who will be the Member of Parliament for their constituency. This will determine which party will govern the United Kingdom. As you can imagine, it can be difficult to choose which party to vote for. Some people think politics is pointless and boring, or they find the political system too confusing. Personally, I find politics very interesting. I have spent some time considering which party I think will be best to govern my country. I think it is very important to vote.
Do you think it is important to vote?