Elections, UK elections, European parliamentary elections, Contacting elected members

UK elections:

MPs are elected at a General Election, which is held at least every five years. If an MP dies or resigns, there will be a fresh election, called a by-election, in his or her constituency.

MPs are elected through a system called ‘first past the post’. In each constituency, the candidate who gets the most votes is elected. The government is usually formed by the party that wins the majority of constituencies. If no party wins a majority, two parties may join together to form a coalition.

European parliamentary elections:

Elections for the European Parliament are also held every five years. Elected members are called members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Elections to the European Parliament use a system of proportional representation, where seats are allocated to each party in proportion to the total number of votes it has won.

Contacting elected members:

All elected members have a duty to serve and represent their constituents. You can get contact details for all your representatives and their parties from your local library and from www.parliament.uk. MPs, Assembly members, members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and MEPs are also listed in The Phone Book, published by BT, and in Yellow Pages.

You can contact MPs by letter or telephone at their constituency office, or at their office in the House of Commons: The House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A OAA, telephone 0207729 3000. In addition, many MPs, Assembly members, MSPs and MEPs hold regular local ‘surgeries’, where constituents can go in person to talk about issues that are of concern to them. These surgeries are often advertised in the local newspaper.

Check that you understand:

• How democracy has developed in the UK

• What a constitution is and how the UK’s constitution is different from those of most other countries

• The role of the monarch

• The role of the House of Commons and House of Lords

• What the Speaker does

• How the UK elects MPs and MEPs


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