General election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are up for election. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.

The term originates in the United Kingdom general elections for the House of Commons.


[edit] In the United States

A general election is also a term used in opposition to primary election. In the United States, primary elections serve to narrow down a field of candidates, and general elections actually elect candidates to offices. The general election is usually held on Election Day, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

It meets the above definition of "general election" in that the entire United States House of Representatives is elected on Election Day, though not the entire United States Congress. Prior to the 17th Amendment, members of the United States Senate were not directly elected by the people but rather by their state legislature. Though Senators have been directly elected since then, only one-third of them are up for election on any given Election Day. The U.S. President is also chosen during a November general election that follows primaries.

[edit] In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

General elections in Britain refer to the election of Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons; these must be held within 5 years and 1 month of the last one, but are often held before that time as it is up to the parties in government when to call a general election. The current Labour Party government have held general elections every four years since coming to power in May 1997 and thereafter in June 2001 and May 2005. Therefore another election is not legally obliged to occur until June 2010.

General elections in Britain traditionally take place on a Thursday; the last general election not on a Thursday was that of 1931.

The five year limit on the time of a Parliament can be varied by an Act of Parliament. This was done during both World Wars; the Parliament elected in December 1910 was prolonged to November 1918, and that elected in November 1935 lasted until June 1945. The House of Lords has an absolute veto on any Bill to extend the life of a Parliament.

[edit] Canada

In Canada, general elections are held to elects Members of Parliament to the Canadian House of Commons, or members of legislatures of the provinces and territories of Canada.

General elections are generally held every four to five years.

[edit] Japan

See Elections in Japan

[edit] See also

  • List of democracy and elections-related topics

[edit] External links

In other languages