In a parliamentary political system, a general
is an election
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
originates in the United Kingdom general
elections for the House of Commons.
In the United Kingdom
Kingdom refer to the election of Members of Parliament (MPs) to the
Commons; these must be held 5 years after the first session
of the new parliament, (usually within 5 years and 1 month of the
last one to due to the time it takes for parliament to assemble and
the election campaign), but are often held before that time as it
is up to the parties in government when to call a general
The current Labour
government have held general elections every four years
since coming to power in May 1997 and thereafter in June 2001 and
. 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
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
until June 1945. The House of Lords has an absolute veto on any Bill to extend the life
of a Parliament.
General Elections in India
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
coordinates the elections, which owing to the huge size
of the electorate is conducted in a phased manner.
See Elections in Japan
In U.S. politics, some parallels can be drawn between the general
election in parliamentary systems and the biennial elections
determining all House seats
, although there is no analogue to
"calling early elections" in the U.S., and the members of the
elected U.S. Senate -- less subject to either party discipline or independent action by
the lower house than the House of Lords -- face elections of only one-third at a time at
two year intervals.
As a matter of terminology, "general election" is also more widely
used in U.S. politics to denote an election whose winner takes
office, as distinguished from a primary
for the same office, administered by government
employees to determine the party's candidate for a specific office.
In many situations where a member of a political party
seeking candidacy does not
consent to the result of the party's private decision-making
process rejecting that candidacy, such a primary election
determines who represents the party in the "general election"
against candidates of other parties.
- Indian General Election Expenditure, from ECI
website accessed 14 May 2006.