Understanding Local Elections in London: An Expert's Guide

The City of London is home to a variety of elections, and it's important to understand how they work. Local government elections occur at least every four years, and not all of them take place simultaneously. On May 4th, 2021, elections will be held in district councils, metropolitan districts, and unitary authorities across England. On the same day, Northern Ireland will hold elections in all local councils.

In total, 8,058 municipal seats are being contested in England and 462 in Northern Ireland. In 2004, for the first time, local elections were held on the same day as the European elections and the mayoral and assembly elections in London. The European Parliament Elections Act 1993 increased the number of seats to 87, adding five more seats in England and one more in Wales. Since then, voter turnout in the United Kingdom's general elections has decreased from 77% in 1992 and 71% in 1997 to an all-time low of 59% in 2001. All citizens of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and the European Union who are 18 years of age or older on election day and live in the area have the right to vote in local elections. In the general elections, the Scottish National Party (SNP) won more than 90% of Scottish constituencies, making it the third party in terms of seats in the House of Commons. If you live in two different local authority areas (for example, because you're a student), you may be able to cast your ballot in both areas.

When voting, voters must tell the electoral staff their name and address; although a voter card will save them time, it is not essential to receive the ballot paper. Several prominent Labour MPs have expressed a desire to investigate electoral reform, including Peter Hain (who advocated alternative voting in the House of Commons in March 2004), Patricia Hewitt, Tessa Jowell, and Baroness Amos. Members of the House of Lords who reside in the United Kingdom carry the prefix L, meaning that they can only vote in elections to the European Parliament and local governments. Foreign voters carry the prefix E, indicating that they can only vote in elections to the European Parliament. As is common with many Western democracies, voter apathy is a current concern following a dramatic decline in voter turnout at the end of the 20th century. Nancy Astor was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) in 1919; she was the second woman to become an MP and was also the first to hold a seat in the House of Commons. After each election, after remaining in power, the Prime Minister can proceed to a major or minor ministerial reorganization; such reorganization can take place at any time if desired.

The rest of England (including all London districts) and Wales use the general plurality system with the exception of mayoral and assembly elections to the Greater London Authority (GLA). However, as early as 1968 only taxpayers were allowed to vote in local elections in Northern Ireland; this led to voting rights being deprived from certain communities as well as events that gave rise to Free Derry.