Sad as it is to admit but nothing excites public affairs consultants like the prospect of a General Election. Most political lobbyists have something of the obsessive about them, a positive thing when working in politics itself, obviously, but more of a problem when you start talking about key marginals to your friends and see their eyes glaze over.
For the first time in, arguably, the entire history of British democracy, we now know when the next General Election will be. Barring a major collapse of the Coalition, thanks to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act we can look forward with absolute certainty to an election taking place on 7th May 2015.
Ahead of this, the invaluable House of Commons Library has released a new document – which can be found here – examining the timetable ahead of the big day.
Interestingly, the Fixed Term Parliaments Act also slightly lengthened minimum possible General Election timetable to 25 days from the previous 17 days. Following this new timetable, these are some key dates that we have to look forward to next year:
|Day 0 – Dissolution and Issue of Writ||Monday 30th March|
|Day 3 – the last day for delivery of nomination papers/withdrawals of candidature/appointment of election agents (4pm) and the last day for publication of notice of election||Thursday 2nd April|
|Friday 3 April and Monday 6 April are Bank Holidays (Good Friday and Easter Monday) and therefore not counted for the purposes of the timetable.|
|Day 6 – the last day for making objections to nomination papers (5pm)||Thursday 9th April|
|Day 14 – the last day for requests for a new postal vote or to change or cancel an existing postal vote. Also, the last day to register to vote.||Tuesday 21st April|
|Day 19 – the last day for new applications to vote by proxy (except for medical emergencies) (5pm).||Tuesday 28th April|
|Day 20 – the last day for appointment of polling and counting agents.||Wednesday 29th April|
|Monday 4 May is a Bank Holiday|
|Day 25 – POLLING DAY||Thursday 7th May 2015|
Of course, this only gives us a timetable up to polling day itself. There is no legislation to lay out a path for the messy deal-making after 7th May, as the major parties try to build the second coalition government that many expect. With the date rapidly approaching all those who want to shape public policy after the next General Election should be engaging now with all major political parties to ensure that their views are understood and their interests protected whatever the electoral outcome.
Thanks once again to the House of Commons Library for the information above.