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FAQ: All you need to know about UK polls

April 30, 2015 10:13 IST

On May 7, 2014, around 47 million voters will get a chance to elect a new government in the United Kingdom. Touted to be the most hotly-contested elections ever, each and every party is naturally fighting hard for every vote.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron presents the Conservative party election manifesto in Swindon. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Pool/Reuters

Here’s what you must know in the lead-up to the biggest political event of the past five years, and why it matters:

When is the election?

The date of the next general election has been set for Thursday, May 7, 2015.

What are they voting for?

The UK is divided into 650 constituencies -- the vast majority of them (533) in England, the biggest and most populous part of the UK. Scotland has 59 seats, Wales 40 and Northern Ireland 18.

The winner in each constituency becomes its representative in parliament, an MP. This system is called, 'First Past the Post'.

 

Who are the major players?

Clockwise: David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nigel Farage and Nicola Sturgeon. Photographs: Reuters

Party: Conservative Leader: David Cameron

Party: Labour Leader: Ed Miliband

Party: UK Independence Party Leader: Nigel Farage

Party: Scottish National Party (Scotland only) Leader: Nicola Sturgeon

 

What are the main issues likely to be in the run-up to the election?

Campaign placards placed on seats, ahead of a speech by Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband on health, at a campaign event in Leeds, northern England. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

The top issues on voters’ minds ahead of the election are: economy, jobs, public spending, and two very hot topics -- the National Health Service and immigration.

What happened in the last election?

In the 2010, not a single party won more than half the seats in the House of Commons. The Conservative Party, won the most with 306. The Labour Partycame second with 258 seats. The Liberal Democrats came third with 57 seats.

What makes this election important?

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon delivers their election manifesto in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photograph: Russel Cheyne/Reuters

It is important for the following reasons:

  • The vote is very close, and highly unpredictable. Since 1922, the UK’s two major parties -- the Labour and the Conservatives – have been in an out of power and have been neck-to-neck in the polls. Also, smaller parties such as the UKIP and the Green Party could fragment the votes.

 

  • Polls indicate that it could be a hung parliament this time. Also, according to polls, no two parties may reach in majority, and that could mean alliances.

 

  • The outcome may decided the UK’ stand on European Union – whether it should remain a member or not.

What do the polls say?

According to the Press Association’s poll of polls, Labour has maintained a slight lead over the Conservatives. With 23 days until the election, Labour is on 32.2 per cent, putting them 0.9 points ahead of the Conservatives on 33.3 per cent. UKIP are in third place on 13.4 per cent, a drop of 1.5 per cent in the past five days. Fourth is the Liberal Democrats on 8.2 per cent and the Greens are fifth with 5.1 per cent.

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