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UK Parliament Week 2022: Local and General Elections, Councillors and MPs

To mark UK Parliament Week 2022, AVOW will be sharing information designed to serve as a refresher, or an introduction, for some everyday political process facts which may be easily lost in the whirlwind of news and information. AVOW were assisted in compiling this information by our volunteer, Mike Ashfield. Today’s topic is…

What’s the difference between Local and General Elections, and between Councillors and MPs?

Local Elections:

  • Local Councillors act as the link between the public and the council they are elected to serve: their time is spent dealing with any problems and questions from their local community. Councillors work to improve the quality of life for people within their area and make decisions about local issues.
  • Local Councillors are elected for 4-year terms by the local community to represent its views. Not all local government elections take place at the same time.
  • To vote in a local government election you must: be registered to vote, be 18 or over on the day of the election (‘polling day’) (16 or over in Scotland and Wales), be registered at an address in the area you want to vote in, not be legally excluded from voting.
  • Local government councillors in England and Wales are elected using the First Past the Post system: the ballot paper will tell you the number of candidates you can vote for.
  • In Scotland and Northern Ireland, you rank the candidates in order of preference.

General Elections:

  • General elections (elections to the UK Parliament) usually take place every 5 years. The UK is divided up into over 600 constituencies: each constituency is represented by one elected Member of Parliament (MP) who represents the views of their local constituents in the House of Commons (Parliament).
  • You vote once for a candidate in your constituency and the candidate with the most votes becomes your Local MP.
  • To vote in a general election you must: be registered to vote, be 18 or over on the day of the election (‘polling day’), be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen, and be a resident at an address in the UK (or a British citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years), and not be legally excluded from voting.
  • There are 650 Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK Parliament.
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