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There are around 40,000 polling stations across the country, according to Democracy Club. Image Credit: Bloomberg

London: Polls opened in the UK's general election on Thursday, with the opposition Labour party the heavy favourite to gain power and end 14 years of Conservative rule.

Polls opened at 7:00 am (0600 GMT) and will close at 10pm, when exit polls will give a strong indication of the final result.

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House of Commons

Voting is taking place for all 650 MPs in the lower chamber of parliament, each representing a constituency or seat.

A total of 543 seats are in England and 57 in Scotland, with 32 in Wales and 18 in Northern Ireland.

There are 4,515 candidates this year - a record.

The increase is down to hard-right Reform UK's decision to end its 2019 promise not to stand against the Conservatives, and more Green party hopefuls.

In all, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Tories are fielding candidates in 635 seats, with 631 for Keir Starmer's Labour and 630 for the Liberal Democrats, led by Ed Davey.

Reform UK, led by Nigel Farage, has 609 with 629 for Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay's Greens. The remainder are running for smaller parties or as independents.

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Polls open across the UK as voting begins in the general election, closing at 10pm. Electors vote once for a candidate in their constituency, marking a cross on a ballot paper.

Voters have to be registered, over 18, and either a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen, resident in the UK or registered as an overseas voter.

Prisoners and members of the unelected upper chamber of parliament, the House of Lords, cannot vote.

Ballots are counted immediately after polling ends, with the results declared from late evening into July 5.

An exit poll, commissioned by UK broadcasters BBC, Sky News and ITV News, is published at 2100 GMT when polls close, based on interviews by IPSOS at 133 polling stations across the UK.

The survey of voter behaviour is seen as an accurate indicator of the result.

The UK general election uses the first-past-the-post system, which means the candidate and party with the most votes wins.


For an overall majority, a party has to secure at least 326 seats.

But in reality the figure is lower, as the Speaker - an MP who is by convention elected unopposed in his or her constituency - and their three deputies - also MPs - do not vote in parliament.

MPs from the pro-Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party do not take up their seats in the UK parliament because they do not recognise British sovereignty over Northern Ireland.

As head of state, the monarch - currently King Charles III - nominates the leader of the biggest party in parliament as prime minister.

The next biggest party becomes His Majesty's Official Opposition, with a Shadow Cabinet of MPs as counterparts to government ministers.

The leader of the opposition goes head-to-head with the prime minister in parliament every week when parliament is sitting.

There is a hung parliament if no party has an overall majority. The biggest party may decide to form a minority government, requiring the support of other parties to pass legislation.

Alternatively, it can negotiate with one or more smaller parties to govern as a formal coalition, as happened in 2010 when the Conservatives ruled with the Liberal Democrats.


MPs scrutinise and vote on proposals from the government, and can sit on parliamentary committees to study the work of the executive as a whole or specific issues.

Not all policy and proposed legislation is a matter for the UK parliament in Westminster. Areas such as health, transport, environment and housing are devolved to lawmakers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


At the last general election, held on December 12, 2019, Boris Johnson's Conservatives were runaway winners with 365 seats, with Labour on 202.

The Scottish National Party won 48, followed by the Liberal Democrats on 11.

Northern Ireland's pro-UK Democratic Unionist Party secured eight seats, with Sinn Fein on seven, and Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru on four.

UK general election in numbers

Here are some of the key numbers as UK voters go to the polls Thursday in a general election predicted to see the ruling Conservatives dumped out of office after 14 years.

650 seats

The number of seats up for grabs across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. A party needs to secure 326 seats to have a majority in parliament.

4,515 candidates

The total number of candidates from 98 different political parties - a record. Of them, 459 are independents and 30 percent are women.

AFP also counted at least 29 joke candidates, including 22 running for the "Official Monster Raving Loony Party".

The most common name among candidates is David, accounting for over 100 candidates, according to the Electoral Reform Society.

The youngest candidates are 18-year-olds Pedro Da Conceicao and Adam Wayne Joseph Gillman, with the oldest being 86-year-old John Hugh Morris.

And a new national fault line has emerged to rival the 52-48 percent Brexit vote split, according to Democracy Club, which analyses election data.

It found a 52-48 percent split in favour of non-chocolate over chocolate biscuits among candidates.

46 million voters

There were over 46 million voters registered in the UK in December 2023, according to government data.

This number is likely to have risen closer to the election, which was called on May 22.

For the first time this year, British citizens who have lived outside the country for more than 15 years will be eligible to vote as well.

40,000 polling stations

There are around 40,000 polling stations across the country, according to Democracy Club.

Any space can be used as a polling station as long as it meets certain criteria like being accessible for people with disabilities.

Several pubs are used, with this year's election also promising polling at a ship, a beehive centre, a cricket field and a fossil museum among others.

15 Tory ministers under threat

At least 15 Conservative candidates who are ministers in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's cabinet have been projected to lose their seats in YouGov polling.

Among them are finance secretary Jeremy Hunt, defence secretary Grant Shapps and Commons leader Penny Mordaunt.

That means just under half of Sunak's cabinet members face the chop, with 27 ministers gunning for re-election - not including Sunak himself.

£13 million in donations

In the first three weeks of election campaigning, from May 30 to June 19, around £13 million ($16.4 million) was donated to political parties, according to Electoral Commission data.

The Conservatives received around £1.2 million, while Labour received a whopping £8.4 million.

Seven water stunts

Ed Davey, leader of the smaller opposition Liberal Democrats, has taken part in seven campaign stunts involving water.

On Windermere, England's biggest lake, he fell off a paddleboard into the water five times in 15 minutes.

Davey, who has taken part in a water aerobics class, sped down water slides and rode an aqua-bike, is promising to clean up Britain's polluted waterways.

12 percent trust

Only 12 percent of Britons said they trusted political parties in a government survey from last year, down from 20 percent in 2022.

Twenty-seven percent said they trusted the government, with less than a quarter trusting the House of Commons.

Just under half said they had little or no trust in their own ability to participate in politics.

Levels of public distrust can be used as an indicator for turnout on election day, with lower trust in politicians often translating into lower turnout.

Turnout was 67.3 percent at the last election in 2019.