UK General Elections 2024: A Comprehensive Overview of the Election Process, Political Parties, and Leading Candidates

As the United Kingdom’s general election campaign winds down, the nation prepares to cast their votes on July 4. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak aims to secure another term for the Conservative Party, while the Labour Party hopes for a decisive victory. Despite a close ally predicting a “landslide defeat,” Sunak remains hopeful, insisting that the Conservatives are still “fighting hard.” Opinion polls suggest a significant win for the centre-left Labour Party, potentially ending the Conservative Party’s 14-year reign. The election results are expected early on Friday, with Labour Party leader Keir Starmer likely moving into 10 Downing Street.

Understanding the UK’s Prime Ministerial Election
The UK will hold elections in 650 constituencies, where voters will select their representatives for the House of Commons. In the first-past-the-post system, candidates win a seat in Parliament by securing more votes than their rivals. To form majority govt, party needs to win at least 326 seats. Once this threshold is achieved, the monarch, King Charles III, invites the party to form a government. Unlike the elected House of Commons, members of the House of Lords are appointed.

In the event that no party wins a majority, the result is a hung parliament.

The UK’s Political Structure
The UK is a constitutional monarchy, with King Charles III as the ceremonial head of state. While the monarch’s duties are mainly symbolic, the real power is vested in Parliament’s two houses: the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which convene at the Palace of Westminster.

  • The House of Commons has 650 elected Members of Parliament (MPs).
  • The House of Lords’ membership is not fixed; as of June 20, 2024, it includes 784 sitting members, comprising life peers, hereditary peers, and bishops.

    The prime minister leads the executive branch, enforces laws, and appoints Cabinet members who head various government departments. The PM serves a five-year term.

The UK also has devolved governments in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, each with some legislative powers.

Current Composition of the UK Parliament
* Conservatives: 344 seats (52.9%)
* Labour: 205 seats (31.5%)
* Scottish National Party (SNP): 43 seats (6.6%)
* Liberal Democrats: 15 seats (2.3%)
* The remaining 43 seats are occupied by members of nine other parties and independents.
Major Parties and Candidates in the UK Elections
Conservatives (Tories): A centre-right to right-wing party led by Rishi Sunak, who succeeded Liz Truss in October 2022.
Labour: A centre-left party under the leadership of Keir Starmer, last in power from 1997 to 2010 with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Liberal Democrats: Positioned from centre to centre-left, led by Ed Davey. They governed in coalition with the Conservatives from 2010 to 2015.
Greens: A left-wing party focused on eco-politics, led by Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay.
Reform UK: A right-wing party headed by Nigel Farage.
SNP (Scottish National Party): Led by John Swinney, focusing on Scottish interests.
Plaid Cymru: A centre-left to left-wing Welsh party, led by Rhun ap Iorwerth.
DUP (Democratic Unionist Party): Led by Gavin Robinson, representing unionist interests in Northern Ireland.
Key Issues for Voters in the 2024 UK General Election
A YouGov survey identified the top issues for British voters ahead of the 2024 general election as:

  • The economy: 52%
  • Healthcare: 50%
  • Immigration and asylum: 40%
  • Housing: 24%
  • Environment: 20%

    Election Polls and Projections
    Labour is leading in the latest polls, making them the frontrunners for a majority in the upcoming election. The Conservative Party faces historically low poll numbers and a challenging outlook due to their concentrated support in at-risk constituencies. Additionally, the rise of Reform UK presents further challenges for the Conservatives in critical areas.

With the political landscape shifting, the 2024 UK general elections promise to be a pivotal moment in the nation’s history.

Shruti Suman

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