Home Somerset rules The rules that govern our general elections

The rules that govern our general elections


Prime Minister Boris Johnson is currently facing calls to resign over ongoing Downing Street party scandals that allegedly took place while such gatherings were banned under Covid restrictions.

The Mirror reports that Mr Johnson was elected with a strong majority on December 12, 2019, out of some 80 seats.

It won 48 seats outright in December with 43.6% of the vote – more than any other government since 1979.

General elections in the UK are usually held every five years or earlier.

The Fixed Term Parliament Act (FTPA) of 2011 sets a specific date for the holding of elections.

They must take place on the first Thursday of May every five years. Previously, prime ministers could call elections when it suited them, usually when it was most favorable to their party.

However, Mr Johnson is in the process of repealing this law so that he can call an election whenever he wants until 2024.

Under the Elections Registration and Administration Act 2013, Parliament must be dissolved 25 days before an election, and the next general election is currently scheduled for May 2024.

Under current rules it could not take place earlier unless there was a two-thirds “super majority” of parliament – as in previous snap elections – or a vote of no confidence.

But if the FTPA is repealed, Mr Johnson could call an election whenever he wants, and there are many rumors that it could take place in the fall or winter of 2023 – or even sooner.

He reportedly told his cabinet after a recent reshuffle that he sees it as the midpoint of his premiership. It has only been two years since the last election.

If an election takes place in the short term, it is called a snap election. If Mr Johnson is ousted by his own backbench MPs, his replacement could well call an election sooner, in the same way Theresa May staged a snap election in 2017, less than a year after taking over David Cameron.

However, her ploy to strengthen her government and start Brexit negotiations with a mandate backfired as she lost her narrow majority and had to side with the DUP after the election, resulting in a Parliament suspended.

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