The UK is about to have yet another general election and soon the internet and airwaves will be filled with talk of purdah, hustings and spin. But what do they really mean?
We’re here to help. Use our translator tool to check the meaning of some of the terms used around election time.
Ten key terms
Is when supporters of a party ask voters who they will vote for and try to drum up support for their own candidates. They do this by promoting the party’s policies and their candidates’ personal qualities.
Each candidate must pay a £500 deposit to run for parliament. The money is paid for by the parties or the candidate themselves, and they get it back if they win 5% or more of the votes cast.
Dissolution of Parliament
Parliament is broken up – or dissolved – 25 working days before election day. When parliament is dissolved there are no MPs, but the prime minister and ministers remain in their jobs.
A survey in which voters leaving a polling station are asked how they voted. The results are analysed and used to forecast the overall result of the election. On election night the BBC exit poll is broadcast the moment polls close at 10pm.
An election where no one party wins a majority is said to end in a hung parliament. Usually the largest party then tries to form a partnership with another party as a coalition government.
A majority in Parliament means one party has at least one more seat than all the others put together. That means it is likely to win votes on its policies and plans in Parliament, which can then be implemented.
Opinion polls ask people which party they will vote for in the election. The results are used to suggest how much of the vote each party could get across the whole country. But the vote share does not necessarily translate to who gets a majority of seats in Parliament. Polls are also used to find out opinions on a range of issues
People who can’t get to a polling station on election day are allowed to vote by post if they apply in advance. Information on how to apply for a postal vote is available online.
The time between the announcement of an election and the final election results. During this time, media organisations have to make sure that any political reporting is balanced.
This is an effort to get voters to back a party they don’t really support in an effort to defeat another party. Parties with similar policies sometimes do deals so that one stands aside to give the other a better chance of winning, but the practice can be controversial.
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