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20 things you should know about the UK's election system and Parliament, UK General election 2015, Parliament election 2015

20 things you should know about the UK's election system and Parliament

As Britain goes to the polls on May 7 to elect a new government, here are some facts and figures to help you look in the know for UK General Election 2015.

1) British elections run on a constituency-based system - a constituency is a geographical area containing approximately 60,000 people

2) The smallest constituency is Islington North in London

3) Orkney and Shetland is the most northerly parliamentary constituency in the UK. It is closer to Oslo than it is to Westminster.

4) The last party leader to get more than 50% of the vote was Conservative Stanley Baldwin, who won 470 seats in 1931.

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5) There are 650 Members of Parliament, but only 427 seats on the benches of the House of Commons.

6) There were only 148 women MPs in the last parliament. In fact since 1918 there has been a total of 370 female MPs. While 502 male MPs were elected in 2010 alone.

7) But there are 1,036 women standing for election this year. That's 26% of candidates - the highest ever percentage of female candidates at a UK general election

8) A record breaking 469,000 people registered online to vote on Monday 20th April - the registration deadline.

9) It's up to Brits if they vote - it's not compulsory like in Australia

10) You are barred from voting in general elections if you are a member of the House of Lords; an EU citizen living in the UK; anyone other than British, Irish and qualifying Commonwealth citizens; a convicted prisoner; anybody found guilty of electoral fraud within the last five years; or if you are subject to any "legal incapacity" which impairs your judgement for example certified insane.

11) Want to stand as UK MP? You need at least 10 friends (Facebook ones don't count) who live in the constituency you are standing in to sign your nomination form

12) A citizen of the Commonwealth? You can vote and stand as an MP in a UK General Election

13) The Queen doesn't vote - she could in practice but it is considered unconstitutional for the monarch to vote in an election.

14) The last UK general election, in 2010, cost £84.6m to administer with around 42million people eligible to vote.

15) UK elections are held on Thursdays. This is a convention rather than a legal requirement, although the Fixed-term Parliaments Act now provides for general elections to be held on the first Thursday in May every five years. One theory about the Thursday origins is that people were not paid until Fridays and so holding polls on Thursdays ensured they were not too drunk to vote.

16) Comedy candidates are a great feature of British elections and this year is no exception. Al Murray - the Pub Landlord, from the Free United Kingdom Party (FUKP) is standing in the Kent constituency of South Thanet in South East England, where UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage is also standing.

17) The House of Commons, the democratically elected house of the UK Parliament, has 100 staircases, 5km of passageways and thousands of rooms.

18) As it carries out its business, the House of Commons produces 18million printed pages a year, including committee reports, draft bills and Hansard - the record of what was said in Parliament.

19) Green is the colour of the House of Commons - from the iconic benches in the Chamber to the ribbon used to tie the hard copy of bills as they are physically carried to the House of Lords.

20) There are around 300 panes of glass covering the clock face in the famous Big Ben tower.


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