How do UK elections work? | CNBC Explains


Britain is heading to the ballot box for its first
December election in almost a century. It could decide both the fate of the U.K.’s
departure from the European Union and the future of the world’s
fifth-largest economy. So, how does Britain’s
voting system work? In a general election, the U.K. is divided into 650
local areas called parliamentary constituencies, each of which is represented by one member of
parliament, or MP, in the House of Commons. Constituencies vary in size geographically, but typically
each will have between 60,000 and 80,000 voters. All British citizens resident in the country and
aged 18 years old or over on December 12 will be able to cast their ballot, with some 46
million people reportedly registered to vote. Voters choose one person from a list of
candidates to represent their local area, and the candidate that
receives the most votes wins. All of the elected MPs then enter parliament
to sit in the House of Commons and represent the people
in their constituency. The political party that secures the most MPs is
then invited by the Queen to form the government. An absolute majority in
parliament is 326 seats, although the number for a working
majority is slightly lower in practice. That’s because lawmakers elected for Sinn Fein
in Northern Ireland actively abstain from taking up their seats in Westminster, since the party
rejects Britain’s claim to sovereignty over Ireland. So for example, in the 2017 election,
seven Sinn Fein MPs were elected. This effectively lowered the
threshold for a majority to 322. If there is a clear result when polls
close at 10pm on election day, we can expect to see opposition
leaders conceding to the winner. However, if recent history is to repeat
itself and no party secures a majority, the election could bring about
another hung parliament. In June 2017, a shock exit poll showed
Theresa May’s ruling Conservative party had failed to return a
parliamentary majority. This is completely catastrophic for The
Conservatives and for Theresa May. It forced the prime minister to strike a deal with the
Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, or DUP, in order to secure a working
majority in the House of Commons. If there is no clear winner this time around, parties
could look to create a formal alliance together. That way, they could bolster their chances of
securing enough votes to pass laws in parliament. As the incumbent, Boris Johnson would
get first try to form a government. Instead of Theresa May’s agreement with the DUP,
he could try to secure a formal coalition arrangement, which is what happened in 2010 between the
Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. … and work together in
the national interest. If Johnson is unable to form a government,
he could resign and recommend the leader of the largest opposition party be given
a chance to form the executive. As is typical with major national parties in campaign
mode ahead of the general election, they have all suggested they would not be
willing to work together to form a government. Most countries around the world
use a proportional voting system, meaning that a party that wins half of the total vote
share also wins half of the seats in parliament. But, not in the U.K. The voting system used in Westminster
is known as first-past-the-post. A term used in horse racing; it signifies
that the contest is effectively over once a candidate receives the largest
number of votes for their local area. Essentially, it’s winner takes all. The same voting system is
used in Canada and India, as well as many Caribbean
and African states. Advocates of first-past-the-post say
it is a simple and familiar process which usually delivers a
one-party government. It allows that party to implement their
plans over the duration of the parliament. First-past-the-post certainly has its
critics, with many quick to point out that the winning MP usually
receives less than half of the vote. In most constituencies, the majority of
people actually end up voting against the winning candidate
rather than for them. MPs are sometimes elected
on a vote share as low as 35%, leaving the losing parties
with 65% of the vote. The winning party is also usually elected
by less than half of the electorate. In fact, of the 21 general elections between
1935 and 2017, the majority of voters only voted for parties that formed a
government on two separate occasions. Smaller parties often hit out at the
first-past-the-post voting system too, arguing they do not
gain fair representation. In 2015, the U.K. Independence Party, led at
the time by Brexit proponent Nigel Farage, received 12.6% of the vote,
but this only returned one MP. It’s also argued that the first-past-the-post voting
system encourages what’s known as tactical voting. Take so-called ‘safe
seats’ for instance. If you’re a voter that lives in a constituency
that usually returns a Labour MP for example, you may feel there is little point in
backing a Conservative candidate because they are
unlikely to be elected. When this happens,
and it happens a lot, voters may choose to vote against a candidate
they dislike rather than for one they prefer. Or they might
not vote at all. Around two-thirds of constituencies
in the U.K. are considered safe seats. In 2011, the British public was given a chance
to change Westminster’s voting system with the Alternative Vote referendum, but the
electorate overwhelmingly rejected this option. The vote on December 12 is much
more likely to usher in a government led by either the Conservative Party’s Boris
Johnson or the Labour party’s Jeremy Corbyn. The incumbent has sought to frame
the vote as “a Brexit election”. We’re going to
get Brexit done! With each of the major national
parties offering markedly different visions of how best to resolve the U.K.’s
long-running constitutional crisis. Johnson, who had promised to deliver Brexit
by October 31 “come what may, do or die,” demanded a general election after
parliament frustrated his attempts to ratify his last-minute
divorce deal with the EU. As the leader of the center-right Conservatives,
Johnson said that if his party wins, he will get lawmakers to ratify his Brexit
divorce deal before the end of January. By comparison, Corbyn’s Labour party has indicated
they would need slightly longer to resolve Brexit. The center-left opposition has said it will
negotiate a new withdrawal agreement with the bloc within six
months of the election. Labour would then seek to hold a national referendum
on whether to leave on the terms it has agreed, which it says will mean maintaining very close
ties between Britain and the EU, or to remain. Corbyn, the veteran socialist leader of Labour, has
said he will stay neutral in such a referendum We can’t go on forever being divided
by how people voted in 2016. He’s argued it’s right to try to appeal to
both the 52% of people who voted Brexit and the 48% of people
that voted to remain. Meanwhile, the pro EU Liberal Democrats are
trying to woo voters away from bigger parties by promising to scrap
Brexit altogether. Jo Swinson, the leader of the centrist party,
has said the fast-approaching vote is “a moment for
seismic change.” Almost all politicians were in agreement that
a pre-Christmas election was necessary to try to break a cycle
of inaction over Brexit. And major parties are now scrambling to attract
weary voters in a bid to end years of political crisis. Thanks for watching! If there are any other topics you
think we should be covering please do let us know. See you next time.

25 Replies to “How do UK elections work? | CNBC Explains

  1. 0:55 Wait, what? That's. FPTP voting.

    that's the BS USA system that gives us only 2 (really 1.Pretending to be 2) that is A.big.reason why nothing gets done

  2. As a follow-up to this, do an explainer about the boundaries of the constituencies and the proposed changes to them… as this will affect voting within them.

  3. DO FOR STAN LEE BECAUSE WITH GREAT POWER COMES WITH GREAT RESPONSIBILITY AND JEREMY CORBYN IS NOT USING POWER RESPONSIBILITY. DO IT FOR THE GREATER GOOD OF OUR COUNTY.

  4. Jeremy corbyn is center left😂😂😂😂😂 then Pakistan is a secular country and saudi arbia care about human rights

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