Odds are that in the past week, you’ve seen or heard a headline or news snippet about Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, Tories or even Lord Buckethead.
That would be because the United Kingdom held its general election on June 8, in which everyone listed above played a part.
Despite a high vote share, Theresa May of the Conservative Party lost seats, receiving just 318 MP votes. This left her 8 votes shy of the amount needed for an overall majority, resulting in a hung parliament, according to BBC.com.
If none of that made any sense to you, don’t worry. Politics and elections are complicated things.
Basically, the head of England’s government is the prime minister (think president). He or she is backed by members of parliament (think members of Congress), elected regionally by the citizens. The United Kingdom is divided into 650 constituencies (think states), and each constituency elects one Member of Parliament (MP) as a representative for their region, according to The Telegraph.
The Telegraph went on to explain that every party can have one representative run for election in each constituency. If one party ends up with a majority of elected MPs, they form a majority government, and the national representative of that party becomes the prime minister.
If no party can establish a majority through MP elections, it is referred to as a “hung parliament”, and the prime minister in power before the election stays in power, and has an opportunity to work with other parties and win their support in either a minority government or a coalition government, according to BBC.com. This requires multiple parties to negotiate and work together in order to form a government.
Taking this all back to the recent election, Theresa May will remain the prime minister for the time being, until either a minority or a coalition government is formed. According to official results on BBC.com, 318 constituencies elected conservative MPs, when 326 were needed to establish a majority. The Conservative Party had a high vote share (think popular vote), but this doesn’t always translate to overall success in elections (think back to last November’s US election).
Elections in the United Kingdom are held every five years, ever since the Fixed-term Parliament Act was passed in 2011. However, according to the Parliament’s official website, there are ways for elections to be held at shorter intervals.
The site reads, “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 elapse 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).”
Such was the case with the recent election. The last election was held just two years ago, and conservative David Cameron was elected as prime minister. Theresa May became prime minister last June, after Cameron stepped down from office. May made the motion for a general election on April 19, which passed in a 522 to 13 vote, according to The New York Times.