The total number of candidates is 3,971 which is the second-highest number in history. Voting will take place from 7am to 10pm as has been the case since 1970, although many people have already voted through postal ballots.
This election is especially significant for Irish people as the result could have a direct impact on the UK’s relationship with the EU. A government led by the Conservatives would hold an ‘In-Out’ referendum. A possible “Brexit” is the greatest threat facing the EU since its inception and the potential ramifications for Ireland are enormous.
In this Just the Facts, we take a look at what will happen once the polling stations close.
At 9.55pm, BBC will start its coverage just as the polling stations close while an exit poll will be released just after 10pm; this is usually accurate and will set the tone for the evening.
Counting in the UK General Elections commences almost immediately with a traditional battle between some constituencies to be the first in the UK to declare their result.
Most of the early seats that will be declared will be safe seats unlikely to change hands where the incumbent MP is expected to have a large majority. With UK elections, the declaration itself is often quite a spectacle with candidates and their agents called up to a stage to listen to the Returning Officer announce the results before the victor is given the opportunity to say a few words.
Due to the nature of the UK’s electoral system, very few constituencies are actually likely to change hands. Known as swing seats, these key marginals are expected to decide the outcome of the election. For the Labour Party to get into Government, they will require a three to four point swing to them from the Tories in some constituencies in the Midlands.
The tightest of the marginal seats is Hamsptead and Kilburn. Currently held by the Labour Party, this seat was won at the last election by a majority of just 42 votes with both the Conservatives and Lib Dems very close behind.
Other key swing seats include: North Warwickshire (currently Conservative); Camborne and Redruth (currently Conservative); Bolton West (currently Labour); Thurrock (currently Conservative); Hendon (currently Conservative); Oxford West and Abingdon (currently Conservative); Solihull (currently Lib Dem) and Sheffield Central (currently Labour).
The polls indicate that an overall majority for either the Conservatives or Labour seems to be unlikely. This would mean either party will lead a minority or coalition Government with support from elsewhere.
The Commons’ arithmetic for Labour is this: it can rely on seven likely seats from anti-Tory small parties (Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Greens) alongside those from the SNP, which is committed to voting against any Conservative government. Therefore the key number to watch is the combined Labour and SNP seat total, and the magic number is 316. If Labour and the SNP win this many seats between them, they can vote David Cameron out of office with support from the anti-Tory smaller parties.
The Conservatives’ arithmetic is slightly different. The only parties the Tories can rely on as potential coalition partners are the Liberal Democrats and the DUP. UKIP is out as the Lib Dems won’t deal with them. With the DUP very likely to take eight or nine seats, the key number for the Tories is again a sum: the total seats held by the two current coalition parties needs to be above 315, which would deliver a majority for a second coalition with support from the DUP. With the Lib Dems expected to win about 25 seats, the Tories’ magic number is about 285.
There are very few constituencies where the smaller parties have a chance of winning seats. Below are some of these and the time that a result is expected:
UKIP: Clacton (4.30am), Rochester & Strood (5am) and Thanet (6am)
Greens: Bristol West and Norwich (both about 4.30am)
Plaid Cymru: Ynys Môn (2am), Llanelli (2am) and Ceredigion (4am)
Respect: Bradford West (5am)
DUP: East Belfast (7am)
UUP: Fermanagh & South Tyrone (7.30am)
Sinn Féin: North Belfast (7am)
UK General Elections always throw up a few famous candidates, such as former journalist Martin bell who won a seat as an Independent, and some alternatives such as the Monster Raving Looney Party. This time, Comedian Al Murray will be contesting the South Thanet constituency, where Nigel Farage is standing for UKIP.
The oldest candidate is Doris Osen, 84, of the Elderly Persons’ Independent Party (EPIC), standing in Ilford North. The youngest candidate is Solomon Curtis, 18, running for Labour in Wealden.
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