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United Kingdom general election, 2015

The 2015 United Kingdom general election was held on 7 May 2015 to elect 650 members to the House of Commons. It was the first general election at the end of a fixed-term Parliament. Local elections took place in most areas on the same day.

Polls and commentators had predicted the outcome would be too close to call and would result in a second hung parliament similar to the 2010 election. Opinion polls were eventually proven to have underestimated the Conservative vote as the party unexpectedly won an outright majority, which bore resemblance to its victory at the 1992 general election. Having governed in coalition with the Liberal Democrats since 2010, the Conservatives won 330 seats and 36.9% of the vote, this time winning a working majority of twelve seats.

The British Polling Council began an inquiry into the substantial variance between opinion polls and the actual result. Forming the first Conservative majority government since 1992, David Cameron became the first Prime Minister to continue in office immediately after a term of at least four years with a larger popular vote share since 1900, and the only Prime Minister other than Margaret Thatcher to continue in office immediately after a term of at least four years with a greater number of seats. The Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband, saw a small increase in its share of the vote to 30.4%, but incurred a net loss of seats to return 232 MPs. This was its lowest seat tally since the 1987 general election. Senior Labour Shadow Cabinet members, notably Ed Balls, Douglas Alexander, and Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, were defeated.

The Scottish National Party, enjoying a surge in support since the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, recorded a number of huge swings of over 30% (including a record-breaking swing of 39.3% achieved in Glasgow North East) from Labour, as it won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats to become the third-largest party in the Commons. The Liberal Democrats, led by outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, had their worst result since their formation in 1988, holding just eight out of their previous 57 seats with Cabinet ministers Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Danny Alexander losing their seats. UKIP came third in terms of votes with 12.6%, but only won one seat, with party leader Nigel Farage failing to win the seat of South Thanet. The Green Party won its highest-ever share of the vote with 3.8%, and retained the Brighton Pavilion seat with an increased majority, though did not win any additional seats. Labour's Miliband (as national leader) and Murphy (as Scottish leader) both resigned, as did Clegg. Farage said that his resignation was rejected by his party, and he remained in post.

In Northern Ireland, the Ulster Unionist Party returned to the Commons with two MPs after a five-year absence, while the Alliance Party lost its only seat despite an increase in total vote share.

The Conservative majority meant that Cameron was able to fulfil a manifesto commitment to renegotiate British membership of the European Union. That renegotiation was followed by a referendum in June 2016, which resulted in a majority of 51.9% voting to withdraw from the European Union, and led to the resignation of Cameron as Prime Minister.



Source: United Kingdom general election, 2015
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