Elections in the United Kingdom

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There are six types of elections in the United Kingdom: elections to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom (commonly called ‘general elections’), elections to devolved parliaments and assemblies, local elections, mayoral elections and Police and Crime Commissioner elections. It also included elections to the European Parliament until Brexit. Within each of those categories, there may be by-elections as well as general elections. Elections are held on Election Day, which is conventionally a Thursday. Since the passing of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 for general elections, all six types of elections are held after fixed periods, though early elections to parliament and the devolved assemblies and parliaments can occur in certain situations. The six electoral systems used are: the single member plurality system (first-past-the-post), the multi-member plurality system, party-list proportional representation, the single transferable vote, the additional member system and the supplementary vote.


  • British democracy approves the principles of movable party heads and unwaggable national tails.
    • Winston Churchill, address to a joint session of Congress, Washington, D.C. (17 January 1952); reported in Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963, ed. Robert Rhodes James (1974), vol. 8, p. 8,326
  • Decades, if not centuries are normally required for people to acquire the necessary disciplines and habits [for democracy]. In Britain, the road [to democratic government] took seven centuries to traverse.
  • A subject of Frederick the Great of Prussia, who had strayed into the middle of a Westminster election in 1782, thus describes what he saw and felt there... It is true that if the good man had witnessed an election at an average English borough, or had ascertained that Manchester and Birmingham were unrepresented, he might have felt less enraptured. Nevertheless, he had seen something great, which had then no parallel in France, Spain, Italy or in his own country, something which, for all its absurdities, was of the heart of England.
    • G. M. Trevelyan, British History in the Nineteenth Century (1782–1901) (1922), p. 17