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An American's Guide To The UK General Election

Tanzeel Akhtar

Millions of people in the United Kingdom are preparing to cast their vote in the general election on Thursday, Dec.12.

The ongoing political uncertainty in the U.K. is impacting the stock market, and analysts say the pound sterling could be facing particularly turbulent times.

General elections usually take place every five years. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushed for a general election, saying he wanted "to be reasonable with Parliament" and give MPs more time to scrutinize his Brexit withdrawal deal.

Many U.K. voters are struggling to find a party to vote for — or one that offers what they want.

The BBC commissioned an opinion research consultancy, Britain Thinks, to put together a sample of representative voters by age, location, gender, race, class and voting history.

The common themes that are emerging in the election are the U.K. health care system, Brexit and a lack of trust in politicians and money.

The UK Election Process

The U.K. is divided into 650 areas that are known as constituencies, and each area has a Member of Parliament, or MP, who will represent the constituency in the House of Commons in London.

Most MPs belong to political parties such as the Labour Party, Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats.

Voters who head to the polls Thursday will vote using a paper ballot. 

The candidate with the most votes will become the MP for each constituency. This is known as "first past the post," and the winning candidate gains a seat in the House of Commons.

In order to win, a political party will need to reach the number of 326 MPs, which is half of all MPs plus one.

If there is no clear winner and no political party wins more seats that all the other parties combined, the scenario is known as a hung Parliament. 

Who Is Eligible To Vote In The UK? 

To vote in a general election, voters must be registered to vote and be 18 or older on polling day and be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen.

British citizens living overseas can also vote, but they are required to have registered to vote in the U.K. within the last 15 years.

The Results

Once all the votes have been cast Thursday, the U.K. will be anxiously waiting to see who has won a seat in their constituency. The counting will commence as soon as the polls close at 10 p.m. on Thursday, which is when some constituencies are likely to declare their MP.

Related Links: 

What The UK Brexit Election Means For The Stock Markets, Boris Johnson

Analyst: Vodafone Weakness Likely Tied To Corbyn's Proposal To Nationalize Broadband Service

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