Who can call a general election in UK? Can Boris Johnson, Labour or the Queen call one - and when is next vote
A political party wins a general election by an overall majority if it reaches 326 MPs
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Here’s what you need to know.
Who can call a general election?
The UK is divided up into 650 constituencies, with each area having an MP representing it in Westminster. Each person in the UK has one vote to choose their preferred candidate.
In the first-past-the-post system, the candidate who receives the most votes automatically becomes the MP for that constituency and wins a seat in the House of Commons.
A political party wins a general election by an overall majority if it reaches 326 MPs. The Queen then invites the leader of the party to form a new government, with the leader becoming the country’s Prime Minister.
But if no single political party wins a majority - known as a hung Parliament - a coalition government or minority government is formed.
When is the next general election due to take place?
There is currently no date for the next general election.
However, the maximum term for Parliament is five years.
Due to an early election, the current Parliament first sat on 17 December 2019 and will be automatically dissolved on 17 December 2024.
Polling Day would therefore be expected to take place 25 days later, in January 2025.
Prior to the last general election, polls have traditionally taken place in May.
A general election could take place earlier if a snap poll is called before then, which is exactly what happened in 2019, when Mr Johnson called a snap general election in an effort to increase his parliamentary majority and end months of deadlock over Brexit.
After MPs debated in Parliament, it was agreed the election would go ahead. Two-thirds of MPs were at that time required to agree to an early election through a vote.
If the snap election hadn’t been called, a general election would have taken place in 2022 instead as every five years Parliament is automatically dissolved.
Who can call an early election?
The decision to hold an early election usually rests with the Prime Minister, but until recently, this wasn’t the case.
In 2011, a law was passed that removed the Prime Minister’s power to hold an early election and instead hand control to the House of Commons.
Under those rules, an early election could only be held under certain circumstances, such as if two-thirds of MPs agreed to one.
However, after winning the 2019 election, the Conservatives introduced a new law called the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022, which abolished the previous one and restored the Prime Minister’s power to call elections at a time of their choosing.
Could there be an early general election?
Mr Johnson announcing he will resign means there will now be a leadership contest to replace him as the leader of the Conservative Party and as the Prime Minister.
Tory leadership battles typically take two months to complete and take place across two rounds.
There is no obligation on the next Tory leader to call a general election, but they could do so if they wanted.
For example, when Gordon Brown took over from Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2007, he did not hold an early election.
Labour would not be able to call a general election as they are not currently the party in power.
If a Prime Minister does want an early election then they need to make a "request" to the Queen to dissolve Parliament, which is the official term for closing Parliament in order to hold an election.
Once an election is called, polling day would be expected to take place 25 days later.
MPs lose their status and campaign for re-election, if they choose to stand again.