How is a snap election triggered?
Elections are regulated under the Fixed Term Parliament Act (the FTPA), which was introduced by the coalition government in 2011. This made the act of calling an early general election a decision of the House of Commons, not the Prime Minister. Under the FTPA, parliament runs for a five year term. There are two circumstances set out in section 2 of the FTPA under which an early general election can be called. The first is that the House of Commons must pass a motion that “there shall be an early parliamentary general election” by a vote of at least two-thirds of MPs. The second circumstance is that there must be a straight vote of no confidence by MPs that is not reversed in 14 days or less. The former of these two methods was achieved in this afternoon’s vote by an overwhelming majority in the House.
The general election has been described by commentators as a second vote on Brexit. Both the Labour and Conservative parties have said that they will enact the result of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. In the event that Theresa May wins the election, she will have a direct electoral mandate (which she currently does not have), which will arguably strengthen her position at the negotiation table with the EU. This is because she will not be pressured by an upcoming election in 2020, the year the next election would have been held should an early election not have been called, when negotiations with the European Union may in her words “reach their most difficult stage”. Should the Conservative Party win the vote, Mrs May can assert that the UK population have given her the mandate to approach the negotiations with their full support. It will also operate to avoid criticisms from anti-European Conservative legislators that may oppose any concessions that she may make to the European Union.
Voters must register to vote by 22 May 2017 prior to polling day on 08 June.
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