Thought I'd do a little explanation for all the Non-Brits on how the system works.
Election Day 2005 will be Thursday 05 May. It's a tradition that the election is held on a Thursday but its not tied to that day. Polls are open from
7am GMT until 10pm GMT. Campaign paraphenalia is not allowed within a set boundary of the polling station and the presiding officer of the Station can
ask people to remove campaign badges and stickers.
It is also traditional that the parties do not campaign on the last full day before the election but this may not be honored this year due to the
cutthroat nature of todays politics.
The British public are an unusually fickle lot when it comes to voting. For instance, after World War 2 they swiftly voted Churchill out and brought a
Labour Government in, only to reverse that decision a few years later and elect Churchill for a second term.
Britons will take to the polling stations at 7am to make a choice... the system is fundamentally different from the American system. Voters will make
a choice for their local "Member Of Parliament".
Parliament consists of two chambers. The House of Commons and The House of Lords.
The House of Commons
holds 646 members. Each member is referred to as an MP aka Member of Parliament. They debate and vote on issues and are
generally seen as in charge of the country.
The House of Lords
is a chamber filled with peers who are appointed by the Government as well as those who have inherited titles. They discuss
issues and vote on them. The Lords is generally made up of experts in matters who bring their authority to bear on the topics. If the Commons votes
yes on an issue and the Lords votes no then the Commons can force the bill into legislation by means of the The Parliament Acts 1911 and
Since 1949 four acts have been passed into law without the consent of the House of Lords:
The War Crimes Act 1991
The European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999
The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000
The Hunting Act 2004
The Prime Minister
is the leader of the party with a majority of seats in the House of Commons. The Labour party currently hold the majority so
the Prime Minister is Tony Blair. If the Conservative party were to hold the majority of seats then the Prime Minister would be Michael Howard.
The fundamental difference in the British and American systems is that the electorate does not directly elect the leader of the country.
This year it is expected that Labour will retain the majority whilst the Liberal Democrats pick up seats.
After 10pm the Votes are counted. The key moments of election day are...
Exit polls (All day)
Polling stations close(10pm)
First constituency result (Previously 22:43)
First marginal seat result (Dorset South is the government's most vulnerable seat)
First Conservative/Labour/Lib Dem gain
Minister loses seat
A party leader concedes defeat
A leader's victory speech
The results are televised on BBCOne, BBC2, ITV and Channel 5.