The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act of 2011 determined that the frequency of General Elections, i.e. the elections to the House of Commons (MPs), would be every five years. This applies unless the House of Commons decides to have one earlier. Traditionally, General Elections are held on the first Thursday of May.
As regards local Elections, the situation is more complicated. Each local Council, District or Parish can choose one of three options:
- All of their Councillors are elected once every 4 years ~ simple!
- Half of the Councillors are elected in a particular year, then the other half are elected two years later. The first half are then put up for re-election or replacement two years after that, then the second half two years after that, and so on.
- A third of the Councillors are elected in a particular year, then another third are elected the next year, then the final third are elected the year after that…. then they have a year off elections! Then it starts all over again with the first third, and so on.
The purpose of options 2 and 3 is to have a good mix of current political viewpoints, as well as ensuring a degree of continuity. In each option, every Councillor serves for four years. Local elections are also usually held in May.