General election
In a parliamentary political system, a general election is an election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

 in which all or most members of a given political body are chosen. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-election
A by-election is an election held to fill a political office that has become vacant between regularly scheduled elections....

s and local election
Local election
Local elections vary widely across jurisdictions. In electoral systems that roughly follow the Westminster model, a terminology has evolved with roles such as Mayor or Warden to describe the executive of a city, town or region, although the actual means of elections vary...


The term originates in the United Kingdom general elections
United Kingdom general elections
This is a list of United Kingdom general elections since the first in 1802. The members of the 1801–1802 Parliament had been elected to the former Parliament of Great Britain and Parliament of Ireland, before being co-opted to serve in the first Parliament of the United Kingdom, so that Parliament...

 for the House of Commons.

In the United Kingdom

The term general election in the United Kingdom often refers to the election of Members of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 (MPs) to the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

. These must be held every five years, but may be held more often at the discretion of the British Prime Minister.

The term may of course also be used to refer to an election to any democratically elected body in which all of the members are up for election. Section 2 of the Scotland Act 1998, for example, specifically refers to ordinary elections to the Scottish Parliament as general elections.

General elections in Britain traditionally take place on a Thursday; the last general election not on a Thursday was that of 1931
United Kingdom general election, 1931
The United Kingdom general election on Tuesday 27 October 1931 was the last in the United Kingdom not held on a Thursday. It was also the last election, and the only one under universal suffrage, where one party received an absolute majority of the votes cast.The 1931 general election was the...


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
United Kingdom general election, 1935
The United Kingdom general election held on 14 November 1935 resulted in a large, though reduced, majority for the National Government now led by Conservative Stanley Baldwin. The greatest number of MPs, as before, were Conservative, while the National Liberal vote held steady...

 lasted until June 1945. The House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 has an absolute veto on any Bill to extend the life of Parliament.

In India

General elections in India
Elections in India
India has a quasi federal government, with elected officials at the federal , state and local levels. On a national level, the head of government, the Prime Minister, is elected directly by the people, through a general election. All members of the federal legislature, the Parliament, are directly...

 are the largest exercise of democracy in the World. In 2004, Indian elections covered an electorate larger than 670 million people—over twice that of the next largest, the European Parliament elections—and declared expenditure has trebled since 1989 to almost $300 million, using more than 1 million electronic voting machines. The Election Commission of India
Election Commission of India
The Election Commission of India is an autonomous, quasi-judiciary constitutional body of India. Its mission is to conduct free and fair elections in India...

coordinates the elections, which owing to the huge size of the electorate is conducted in a phased manner.
In General Elections, the candidates are elected for the Lok Sabha and they are called MP's(Member of Parliament). They are held every 5 years.

External links

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