Labour Party Wins Majority in British National Elections (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: The election of 418 members of the Labour Party to the British Parliament ends the Conservatives’ eighteen-year hold on power.
Summary of Event
On May 1, 1997, elections were held for the 659 seats in the House of Commons, which is the lower and more powerful house of Britain’s bicameral Parliament. Like the United States, the United Kingdom elects its legislators through single-member districts. The voters of each district elect one member of Parliament to represent them in the Commons. Victory in each district is conferred to the candidate who is “first past the post,” meaning the candidate who receives the most votes. This voting system tends to produce two major parties. In Britain, those parties are the Labour Party and the Conservative Party (also called the Tories). Also participating in British elections are several smaller parties, including the Liberal Democrats and nationalist parties for Wales and Scotland.
Possessing a majority in the Commons is important not only for controlling the legislature but also for controlling the executive branch. A majority vote of the members of Parliament, rather than a direct vote by the people, selects the British prime minister. Thus, the party that commands a majority in the Commons is able to place its own party leader as prime minister. The prime minister then selects an executive cabinet, generally composed of other members of...
(The entire section is 1655 words.)
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