Student and Graduate Publishing

Did You Have Your Say in the General Election 2017?

Friday, 09 June 2017 14:23

For those of you that have just turned eighteen, yesterday’s election was your first opportunity to go to the polls and vote. The right to vote is very important and the chance to have a say in our future is something that should not be taken for granted. Everything about this election was surprising, from its first announcement to the result this morning. Whether you were able to vote or even if you have heard everyone talking about the election, this article will explain what it all means. 

Why was there an election?
Prime Minister Theresa May announced on April 18 that a snap election would be held. This means that there was not supposed to be an election so, imaginably, it came as a surprise to the country.  Following the UK’s decision to withdraw from the European Union, by calling an election, Theresa May wanted to ensure that people saw her as the leader to take the country though negotiations about Britain’s future with Europe. Theresa May is a member of the Conservative party, which holds different views to those that belong to Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party. As these parties share different opinions on many issues, including how Britain should leave the European Union, Theresa May believed that if she won a majority; people would have no choice but to follow her lead. 

Who were the party leaders?
Aside from Prime Minister May, other party leaders had a huge impact on how people voted. For example, May’s main competition came from Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour party. For many reasons, Jeremy Corbyn was very popular amongst younger people during the election campaign. He promised to ‘rebuild and transform Britain’, as well as end tuition fees for UK university students. For many, this was a welcome change to the prospect of increased prices of university fees this year. Tim Farron is the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nicola Sturgeon is in charge of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Paul Nuttall stood as leader for the UK Independence Party (UKIP). 

Who won the election?
This morning, we awoke to the news that the election had resulted in a hung parliament. This means that neither the Conservatives nor the Labour party were able to win a majority of seats in the House of Commons. A hung parliament has only happened on a few occasions in the history of British politics. In order to be successful, a party has to win 326 out of 650 seats in an election to gain a majority, which then gives them the power to form a new government. In the result of this election, the Conservatives won 316 seats, whereas Labour had a total of 261 seats. 

What happens now? 
With no clear majority, the political situation can become chaotic and confusing. Theresa May won more seats overall, so she will have the opportunity to try and form a government. However, Jeremy Corbyn will also have the opportunity to create alliances with other parties in order to form his own government. If Theresa May is unable to create a government, she will have to resign and then Jeremy Corbyn could replace her as prime minister. There is also the possibility for another general election in the near future if neither of the newly proposed governments is able to win a majority in the House of Commons.

Being able to vote is an exciting opportunity and an important milestone. As this election has proved, it is important to understand the different parties, their leaders and the various policies that they stand for when you do vote. Even if you are not yet old enough to vote, considering the consequences of the election, as a young person, is important in shaping our future.  

- By Lili Melvin