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The United Kingdom Parliament

How MPs are elected

The UK is divided into 646 areas called constituencies.  During an election everyone eligible to cast a vote in a constituency (constituents) selects one candidate to be their MP. The candidate who gets the most votes becomes the MP for that area until the next election.

General elections

At a general election, all MPs stand for re-election and every constituency across the country chooses between available candidates. General elections generally happen every four to five years.

If an MP dies or retires, an election is held in that constituency alone to find a new MP for that area.

Political parties

Most MPs are members of one of the three main political parties in the UK - Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat. Other MPs represent smaller parties or are independent of a political party.

To become an MP representing a main political group, a candidate must be authorised to do so by the parties nominating officer. They must then win the most votes in the constituency.

UK-wide representation and devolved Parliaments and Assemblies

The UK Parliament has MPs from areas across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition, there is a Parliament in Scotland, a National Assembly in Wales and a National Assembly in Northern Ireland.

Separate elections are held for these devolved political bodies (which have been granted powers on a regional level that the UK Parliament was responsible for) - candidates who win seats in these elections do not become MPs in the UK Parliament.

More on this subject
Who can stand as an MP?
Political parties represented at Parliament
List of MPs by political party
Devolved Parliaments and Assemblies
Voting Times - Information for new voters
Parliamentary electionsPDF file

Also in this section
What MPs do
Contacting your MP
Pay and allowances for MPs
What Lords do
Contacting a Lord
Members of the Lords: allowances
Different types of Lords
How do you become a Member of the House of Lords?
Political parties in Parliament
The party system

Related information

Who can stand as an MP?

You must be:

  • aged 18 or over
  • a citizen of the UK, Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland, and
  • not disqualified

More on who can stand as an MP

Find your MP

Enter your postcode to find the name and contact details of your local MP.

Use the advanced search page to search by names, party, constituency or county.

Related internet links

Parliament is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Parliament translated

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Updated 15/01/2008 16:17