Elections. The campaign
The maximum life of the House of Commons has been restricted to five years since the Parliament Act 1911. The franchise (right to vote) became universal for men in the nineteenth century. Women's suffrage came in two stages (1918 and 1928).
For parliamentary elections the United Kingdom is divided into 650 constituencies of roughly equal population. The average constituency contains about 60,000 registered votes. Any British citizen from the age of 18 registered as an elector for the constituency elects a single member to the House of Commons.
Voting is on the same day (usually on Thursday) in all constituencies, and the voting stations are open from 7 in the morning till 9 at night. Each voter has only one vote, if he knows that he will be unable to vote, because he is ill or has moved away or must be away on business, he may apply in advance to be allowed to send his vote by post.
Voting is not compulsory. But in the autumn of each year every householder is obliged by law to enter on the register of electors the name of every resident who is entitled to vote. Much work is done to ensure that the register is complete and accurate. It's only possible to vote at the polling station appropriate to one's address.
As in Britain the political scene is dominated by the Conservatives and the Labour Party, in every constituency each of these parties has a local organization whose first task is to choose the candidate and which then helps him to conduct his local campaign. Any British subject can be nominated as a candidate, there is no need to live in the area, though peers, clergymen, lunatics and felons in prison are disqualified from sitting in the House of Commons.
There are usually more than two candidates for each seat. The candidate who wins the most votes is elected. This practice is known as the majority electoral system.
Date: 2015-04-20; view: 699