I intend not to vote in the General Election next week in the UK. This made me wonder: what would happen if no one voted?

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    I'm not sure if this is a good question for this site ... on one hand: it is about politics; but on the other hand it's not a realistic scenario and very far-fetched and science-fiction-y. – user11249 May 30 '17 at 14:43
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    @carpetsmoker I disagree somewhat. It's at least half a process question with a clear answer to it. The big difficulty is what would happen after the first week or so, when it really devolves from process into politics. – origimbo May 30 '17 at 14:52
  • I agree with @origimbo this question is about due process, and how elections work in the UK using a just hypothetical scenario. It has a clear answer and is thus on-topic for this SE – SleepingGod May 30 '17 at 14:55
  • Yea, this isn't plausible at all...you'd always have at least one vote (from the person running for office). :) – user1530 May 30 '17 at 17:47
  • @blip That's actually one of the more plausible bits. In the UK candidates don't have to stand in the constituency they're resident in, so may not have the ability to vote for themselves. For example n the constituency of the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, it appears only 3 candidates out of 10 will be able to vote for themselves: islingtongazette.co.uk/news/politics/… – origimbo May 30 '17 at 17:55

Well somebody would vote, at the very minimum candidates would vote for themselves. That would get us to fill up the benches in the house of commons, and then Her Majesty The Queen could legally pick whoever she likes to be the Prime Minister.

But in the actual scenario where absolutely nobody voted. Well the candidates would draw lots. The candidates for MP's would stick there names into a hat, and the returning officer would draw out a name who would then become the MP. The parliament will then be filled with 650 random candidates and the Queen would just call upon whoever she thought could command the most respect to become PM.

Alternatively if there are only two candidates it is determined by coin toss with a £1 coin (although don't ask me if it's going to be the new £1 coins or the old ones).

A similar example if when two candidates drew straws to determine who should win.

  • I'm fairly sure reaching 650 random parties is functionally as well as statistically impossible. There are too many constituencies in which only the major parties are standing. – origimbo May 30 '17 at 14:57
  • @origimbo by random parties I also include all the major parties and it should read candidates, but if we are very finicky about it it is statistically possible because although they aren't serious contenders you get all the joke people from The Monsters Raving Loony Party or the Pirate Party or any of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_frivolous_political_parties + random independents who stand in every seat to make a point, I would be very surprised if I saw a seat only contested by the two main parties and not some random individual as well. – SleepingGod May 30 '17 at 15:02
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    One other note: Not all candidates are actually qualified to vote for themselves, since there's no requirement of a candidate to reside in the constituency they stand in. There certainly used to be a reputation that BNP candidates would never usually stand in their own constituency, due to the requirement to put an address on their fliers. – origimbo May 30 '17 at 15:08
  • Based on scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/… there should be 29 seats in Scotland with only the SNP, Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems competing. – origimbo May 30 '17 at 15:11

In the event of a tie in an election to the Westminster parliament, the returning officer is empowered to decide between the the candidates tied for first place through the drawing of lots (see 6.39 here). Assuming this is done fairly, then a candidate will be chosen at random from all those running in each of the 650 constituencies in this election. Since the Conservatives are contesting most seats (638) with Labour second (631) and Liberal Democrats third (629), one of these is likely to be the largest party. However, since the Greens are contesting 468 seats and UKIP 378, it's likely no single party would have a majority. As such, it's highly likely that, just as in 2010, there would be a period with the previous government continuing, as horse trading went on to form a stable coalition.

The one minor fly in this ointment in this analysis is that far more candidates stand in seats with media interest, like those of the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, so it's proportionately less likely for those people to retain their seats. This might lead to the odd image of Theresa May as Prime Minister while no longer MP for Maidenhead.

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