General election


General election

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.

In the United States of America

"General election" is also a term used to differentiate from a 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 Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even-numbered years.

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

In the United Kingdom

General elections in Great 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.

Japan

See Elections in Japan

External links

* [http://www.idea.int/elections/index.cfm International IDEA's Electoral Processes Program]
* [http://dca.tufts.edu/features/aas A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787-1825]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • general election — n: an election usu. held at regular intervals in which candidates are elected in all or most constituencies of a nation or state Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. general election …   Law dictionary

  • general election — ♦♦♦ general elections 1) N COUNT In Britain, a general election is an election where everyone votes for people to represent them in Parliament. 2) N COUNT In the United States, a general election is a local, state, or national election where the… …   English dictionary

  • general election — general e lection n an election in which all the people in a country who can vote elect a government ▪ during the 1987 general election campaign ▪ an attempt to persuade the government to hold a general election (=have a general election) …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • general election — UK US noun [C] POLITICS, GOVERNMENT ► an election in which all the voters in a country elect the government: »With a general election likely next year, the necessary legislation may not be tabled for more than 12 months. → Compare BY ELECTION(Cf …   Financial and business terms

  • general election — ☆ general election n. 1. an election to choose from among candidates previously nominated in a primary election, by party convention, etc. 2. a nationwide or statewide election …   English World dictionary

  • general election — ► NOUN ▪ the election of representatives to a legislature from constituencies throughout the country …   English terms dictionary

  • general election — noun a national or state election; candidates are chosen in all constituencies (Freq. 1) • Hypernyms: ↑election * * * noun, pl ⋯ tions [count] : a regular election that involves voters and candidates throughout an entire country * * * ˌgeneral… …   Useful english dictionary

  • general election — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms general election : singular general election plural general elections an election in which every adult in the country can vote for the people who will represent them in parliament …   English dictionary

  • general election — general e lection noun count an election in which every adult in the country can vote for the people who will represent them in government …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • general election — 1. U.S. Politics. a. a regularly scheduled local, state, or national election in which voters elect officeholders. Cf. primary (def. 15). b. a state or national election, as opposed to a local election. 2. Brit. an election, which must be held at …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.