Who decides to call a general election?
The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 provides that Parliament is dissolved automatically after 5 years. Before the Act, dissolution was a personal prerogative of the monarch. The Act replaced the prerogative. Parliament is now dissolved automatically 25 working days before a general election.
When was the last general election?
The date of the last general election was 8 June 2017.
Do general elections have to be held on Thursdays?
The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 sets the next date of the general election at five-year interval on the first Thursday of May.
If an earlier general election is triggered outside of the five-year period, the election does not have to be held on a Thursday.
Triggering an election other than at five-year intervals
The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 provides for general elections to be held on the first Thursday in May every five years. There are two provisions that trigger an election other than at five-year intervals:
- A motion of no confidence is passed in Her Majesty's Government by a simple majority and 14 days elapses without the House passing a confidence motion in any new Government formed
- A motion for a general election is agreed by two thirds of the total number of seats in the Commons including vacant seats (currently 434 out of 650)
On Wednesday 19 April 2017, MPs voted by 522 to 13 to allow an early general election. The election took place on Thursday 8 June 2017.
Can I vote for a new Prime Minister?
No. You can only vote to elect your local MP in a general election. If you live in the constituency represented by the current Prime Minister you are still only voting for them as your local MP in the next Parliament. This is the same if you live in the constituency of the leader of another political party. You will only be voting for them as your local MP.
Who chooses the Prime Minister?
The Prime Minister is appointed by the monarch. The monarch's appointment of the Prime Minister is guided by constitutional conventions.
The political party that wins the most seats in the House of Commons at a general election usually forms the new government. Its leader becomes Prime Minister.
These conventions, laws and rules are set out in the Cabinet Manual. These affect the conduct and operation of government. It includes the role of the Sovereign.
Who forms the government?
The Prime Minister appoints ministers who work in government departments. The most senior of these attend Cabinet meetings.
What is a hung Parliament?
A 'hung Parliament' is a Parliament in which no political party wins a majority of seats. The largest party can either form a minority government or enter into a coalition government of two or more parties.
Where can I find the results of the general election?
Local and national media report on election results. Many providing live coverage of the results as they happen.
Local authorities publish results for constituencies in their area.
The Electoral Commission publishes the national election results. It also publishes results for individual constituencies.
Further information about general elections
The Library has published briefing papers on general elections and the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011: