Theresa May’s shock announcement that she would call a snap general election on June 8th took many by surprise. The unexpected nature of the election means that the whole process is moving somewhat more quickly than the vote in 2015. Here’s what to expect in the weeks ahead before we go to the polls.
22 April – Purdah begins
After parliament voted to support an early general election, the legislative period of ‘Purdah’ began, effectively banning government and civil servants at both a local and national level from announcing any initiatives that could be seen as advantageous to one political group or party or that reflect the manifesto commitments of any political party.
As a result, many major political decisions are often postponed until after the end of the electoral period and the swearing in of a new government, unless in the national interest or if a delay would be a waste of public money.
Late May – the parties launch their manifestos.
The last two weeks of May will see the publication of the parties’ manifestos outlining their plans if elected. Labour unveiled theirs on the 16th May, while the other parties, including the Conservatives are expected to publish theirs at some point before the end of the month.
Expect the manifesto commitments to be thoroughly scrutinised by both the media and the public, as they will form a key part of the debate in the run up to polling day.
16 May – 6 June – TV Debates and interviews
During this period, broadcasters including the BBC, ITV, Sky News and Channel 4 will broadcast a series of debates and interviews featuring the leaders of the main parties. The organisation of the debates and interviews has proven a controversial topic, however, as both May and later Corbyn ruled out taking part in round table debates involving the other party leaders.
The two will both be interviewed separately on the same programmes by the BBC and Channel 4 and will take part in a Question Time programme on 2nd June, but that has not prevented other parties from accusing them of avoiding directly facing voters’ questions.
8 June – Polling Day
After over a month of campaigning and debate the airwaves will suddenly seem a lot quieter as we all go to vote. Electoral law prohibits any discussion of the parties or their policies on polling day itself from 12.30am until the close of the polls at 10.00pm, so no polls or information will be released until after this window.
After this point, full media coverage will resume and the broadcasters will release their exit polls, giving us the first clear idea of who may be in power come June 13th. Counting of the votes will begin no later than 2am on 9th June, but some constituencies are likely not to announce a final result until much later in the day. We should, however, find out who has an overall majority well before the counting process has come to a close.
13 June – the new parliament assembles
Tuesday 13th June will mark the first day that the new parliament sits. Expect whoever is in charge of the new government to begin the process of appointing members of their new cabinet, although we will not know the full legislative agenda of the government until the State Opening of Parliament on June 19th when the Queen’s Speech will be given and voted on.