British general elections are held at least every five years. The last one was on June 7, 2001. Tony Blair is expected to call an election after Easter. Election day is likely to be May 5 and Parliament will be dissolved on April 7.
System: The UK has a first-past-the-post system (FPTP or FPP) with a single member constituency and simple majority - winner takes all.
Constituencies/Seats: Each party or registered organisation offers a candidate for each seat.
The country is divided up into 659 constituencies. England 529, Scotland 72, Wales 40, Northern Ireland 18
Candidates: From one of three major political parties, a minor party or other independents registered with the Electoral Commission. One Independent MP was returned at the 2001 General Election - Mr Richard Taylor (Wyre Forest).
Winner - The candidate with the most votes in their constituency becomes the Member of Parliament (MP). The party with the most seats in the House of Commons usually forms the government.
Voting - Voting is by secret ballot and postal ballot for England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland voters can only vote at polling stations.
Overseas voters - If you are a British National living overseas you are entitled to vote by post or proxy for up to 15 years after moving abroad.