Voters head to the polls for the third time in a year

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

THE general election, which takes place this Thursday June 8, takes place just two years after the last one.

The official reason given by Prime Minister Theresa May for calling the election was her desire to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations.

The Conservative Party are currently ahead of the Labour Party in the polls and are widely expected to win the election, if not actually increase their majority.

At the last election in May 2015, the Conservative Party, who were then led by David Cameron, won with a majority of just 16 seats.

This was the slimmest majority since the Conservatives clinched the 1992 election. On that occasion, the Tories, led by John Major had a majority of 21 seats.

The next election was not scheduled to take place until 2020, and the calling of this 'snap' election was a surprise, as Theresa May had indicated that she wanted to wait until then but then changed her mind.

Prime Ministers used to be free to call an election as and when they saw fit, but under the 2011 Fixed Term Parliaments Act, a general election should now take place every five years.

There are two reasons why an election can be called early. Firstly, if there is a vote of no confidence in the Government, and secondly, if MPs vote for it by a two thirds majority.

Thus, on April 19, MPs voted 522 to 13 in favour of the holding of another election.

Parliament broke up on May 3 to allow for just over a month of campaigning by the parties.



Who is eligible to vote?

If you are aged 18 or over on election day, are a British citizen and are registered to vote, you can vote. Citizens of the Republic of Ireland who are resident in the UK and citizens of qualifying commonwealth states resident in the UK are also entitled to vote if they are over 18 and registered to vote.


How do I register to vote?

It is now too late to register to vote in this election but you can register to vote for future elections online.


How do I vote?

Voters will select one candidate by putting an 'X' beside the name of the person they would like to vote for. Polls open at 7am on Thursday and will close at 10pm that evening.

The counting of the votes will take place overnight, with the outcome due to be known in the early hours of Friday, June 9.


How will the general election result affect Brexit?

The UK is still due to leave the EU on Friday, March 29 2019. The negotiations with other EU countries are not scheduled to begin until later this month, so the election will be over and it is likely that a new government will be in place by the time that process begins in earnest.

If the Tories win by a big majority, then they will naturally view that as a ringing endorsement of their Brexit position. But, if the majority of the Tories is cut, or if they lose the election, then the Brexit strategy of the UK will be uncertain.


The position in Northern Ireland

There are 18 constituencies in Northern Ireland, with each one returning one representative. The sitting MP in the Newry and Armagh constituency is Sinn Fein's Mickey Brady, and in South Down the incumbent is Margaret Ritchie of the SDLP.

In Newry and Armagh, the candidates are (in alphabetical order):

Mickey Brady (Sinn Fein)

Jackie Coade (Alliance)

William Irwin (DUP)

Justin McNulty (SDLP)

Sam Nicholson (UUP)


Meanwhile, in South Down the candidates (in alphabetical order) are:

Diane Forsythe (DUP)

Chris Hazzard (Sinn Fein)

Harold McKee (UUP)

Andrew McMurray (Alliance)

Margaret Ritchie (SDLP)


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