UNITED KINGDOM
Parliamentary Chamber: House of Commons

ELECTIONS HELD IN 2001

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Chamber:
  House of Commons


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  7 June 2001


Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in the House of Commons after the dissolution of Parliament in May 2001. General elections had previously been held in May 1997.


Background and outcome of elections:

  Prime Minister Tony Blair called national elections for 7 June 2001, together with local elections in England and Northern Ireland, almost a year before the Labour Party would have been obliged to face the voters. The local elections had been initially scheduled for 3 May 2001, but were postponed because of the outbreak of the foot-and-mouth disease. It was widely expected that national elections would also be called for that date. This was the first time since the Second World War that the British government decided to postpone elections.

A centralised Electoral Commission had been established in November 2000 by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act. This independent body reports directly to Parliament rather than to a Government ministry. Its key responsibilities include registration of parties for European, national, or local level elections; monitoring of contributions or donations to political parties as well as campaign spending limits for parties; and the conduct of referenda.

On 14 May 2001, Parliament was officially dissolved by proclamation of Queen Elizabeth II and 3,319 candidates registered to contest the 659 seats in the House of Commons.

Issues during the electoral campaign included the Euro and whether Britain should sign up for this single European currency. Another major problem raised during the campaign was the foot-and-mouth epidemic. The traditional themes were also present during the campaign as the Labour Party assured voters that their priorities included the improvement of the schools, hospitals and other public services while the Tories offered tax cuts.

Even though Prime Minister Tony Blair fought hard against apathy in the last days of the electoral campaign, the turnout was the lowest since World War I, with only 59 per cent of the forty four million voters casting their votes.

The Labour Party won 412 seats, enough for a ruling majority in the House of Commons, against 166 for the Conservative Party and 52 for the Liberal Democrat Party. With this victory, Mr Tony Blair became the first Labour Prime Minister to win a second full term in nearly fifty years. The opposition conservative leader, Mr William Hague, announced his intention to step down after the results were announced.

On 13 June 2001, Mr Michael Martin was re-elected as Speaker of the House of Commons.

STATISTICS
Round no 1 (7 June 2001): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 44 403 238
Voters 26 365 192 (59 %)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 100 005
Valid votes 26 368 798

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Candidates Votes %
Labour Party 640 10 724 895 40.70
Conservative Party 643 8 357 622 31.70
Liberal Democrats 639 4 812 833 18.30
Ulster Unionist Party 17 216 839 0.80
Scottish National Party 72 464 305 1.80
Democratic Unionist Party 14 181 999 0.70
Plaid Cymru 40 195 892 0.70
Sinn Fein 18 175 933 0.70
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 13 169 865 0.60
Independents 1 28 487 0.10
The Speaker 1 16 053 0.10

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
Labour Party 412
Conservative Party 166
Liberal Democrats 52
Ulster Unionist Party 6
Scottish National Party 5
Democratic Unionist Party 5
Plaid Cymru 4
Sinn Fein 4
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 3
Independents 1
The Speaker 1

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 541
Women: 118
Percent of women: 17.91 %

Distribution of seats according to age:  
21 to 30 years 4
31 to 40 years 80
41 to 50 years 235
51 to 60 years 247
61 to 70 years 83
Over 70 years 10


Distribution of seats according to profession:

 
Business/Trade/Industry 130
Teachers 91
Legal professions 78
Political officers 50
Manual workers 48
Social workers 45
Journalists/writers/publishers 43
University Professors 40
Trade Unionists 37
Civil servants 24
Medical professions 16
Accountants 9
Architects 9
Farmers 8
Military 8
Engineers 7
Private sector employees 7
Scientists 7
Housewives 2


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Copyright 2001 Inter-Parliamentary Union