You may have heard the recent buzz around the British Prime Minister, Theresa May’s decision to hold a snap general election in the UK on the 8th June 2017, ahead of the scheduled 2020 date. May’s reason for reversing her decision to hold a general election concerns Brexit. May claims Brexit’s success would be hindered by the divisions amongst Westminster’s MPs.
What is a general election?
A general election is a chance for every eligible member of the UK to vote for who they wish to represent their local area. There are numerous candidates to vote for in each area and the one who receives the most votes becomes that areas MP. It is important to remember that you are not voting for a new Prime Minister, you are voting for your local MP.
How does this affect government?
The political party who wins the most seats in the House of Commons during the general election form the new government, with its leader being appointed Prime Minister by the Queen. If there is no majority, which is known as a ‘hung parliament’, then coalitions between parties may be formed to create a majority. Alternatively, a ‘minority government’ can be practised.
Why has the general election been called early?
This general election came as a shock to MPs and the public alike. When May took over from David Cameron, she said she would wait until the scheduled 2020 date before calling for a general election. However, divisions in Westminster over how to proceed with the countries exit from the European Union have changed this. May claims that the country needs to carry out Brexit under a strong, unified leadership.
Why should you vote?
The Guardian reported that people between the ages of 18-24 are significantly less likely to vote in elections. UPSU.net, the Students Union for Portsmouth, reported that in the 2015 election only 43% of 18 to 24 year olds voted. In fact, over the years the number of young people casting their vote continues to fall significantly. Why? Many young people believe that their vote doesn’t matter; they are just one voice in a sea of many. However, below are the reasons why you should vote:
1. Your vote does count
Why do you think politicians are so keen to encourage young people to vote? It is because your vote matters in deciding the outcome. In fact, your voice is so important that there is currently a major drive underway to get students to vote in the upcoming election.
2. Gives you an opportunity to have your voice heard
Voting gives you the opportunity to have your voice heard. The Student Room recently published findings, which found that 8 out of 10 students feel the government doesn’t represent them or pay enough attention to their views. This election gives you the chance to change this. Students make up a large percentage of the voting population; a collective voice can have a significant impact on the outcome. You don’t have to be majorly politically inclined to have political issues that you care about.
3. It is your right
If you are a citizen and are over the age of eighteen, then it is your right to vote for an MP who best represents your views. There are many countries around the world who deny their citizens the chance to vote- so use yours.
4. It is your responsibility
NUS- USI President Fergal McFerran is urging young people to vote. It is your responsibility to shape your future.
To make sure you have the chance to vote you must register to by the 22nd May. You can apply to vote in person or by post. It only takes five minutes to register online, so there is no excuse! Vote to make sure your voice is heard on the 8th June.
- By Hannah Foord