How the General Election works

How does an election work? Watch this speedy one-minute guide to the UK's General Election and you'll be an election expert!


Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the exercises. Remember you can read the transcript at any time.


In the UK something amazing happens every five years: we hold a General Election. On this one day every eligible person in the UK can place a vote and be part of electing their local representative to Parliament. Parties and candidates campaign to win votes by visiting constituents door to door, holding debates and publishing manifestos, a bit like a shopping list of what they plan to do if they’re voted in.

But how does the election work? The UK is divided into 650 constituencies, each of which is represented by one Member of Parliament. Voters register for a polling card to make sure they can take part. On Election Day, polling stations are open from dawn till dusk. And if a voter can’t make it along, there are other ways to make sure they can take part. Once every vote has been placed, the ballots are counted to find out which candidate has come out on top in each area. This is called ‘first past the post’. The elected MPs enter Parliament to sit in the House of Commons and represent everyone in their constituency. The political party with the most MPs, the majority, is invited by the Queen to form a government. And if there’s a hung parliament, where there’s no clear winner, then a minority government or a coalition government may be created, or a fresh election held. So, on this one day, a little piece of paper with your mark plays a big role in deciding who leads our country. 

© UK Parliament


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