Regarding the office of the Speaker of the House of Commons in the UK, I am wondering if voters know at election time if the MP they are voting for will become the Speaker (in which case, they will receive a reduced level of representation, since the speaker does not normally cast a vote)?

If so, is there any evidence that such knowledge can affect the outcome of the constituency vote (for example, if the constituents did not wish their MP to be the Speaker)?

2 Answers 2


If the Speaker is seeking to continue in the position from the previous Parliament, then he or she runs as the Speaker rather than for a party (since the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act [2000] listed as "The Speaker seeking re-election"). Major parties don't run candidates against them, so there is not usually any meaningful opposition to beat.

If you instead mean MPs who run normally, then take up the position of the Speaker, the role is an elected one, even if historically a consensus on a single candidate happened before the actual election. As such, a prospective MP could only announce that they were willing to be nominated, and there is no formal requirement for them to do so.

It's worth noting that while the Speaker (and his or her deputies) does not normally vote, doing so only to break a tie, they can hold considerable soft power, Particularly in a hung parliament, as currently exists. As such a constituent with personal issues might find that the Speaker is better able to help them than a junior backbencher would be.

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    "the role is an elected one" -- clarification: elected by MPs. Apr 4, 2019 at 7:38
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    a prospective MP could only announce that they were willing to be nominated. As I understand it, the candidate could not even do that. The speaker is chosen by the other MPs and is expected to feign reluctance at being chosen.
    – Buh Buh
    Apr 4, 2019 at 9:18

If a Speaker hasn't resigned the position prior to a General Election, and is seeking to be re-elected as an MP, then the electorate will know. Convention even says that their "party" allegiance on the ballot paper should say "The Speaker seeking re-election".

If there isn't a sitting Speaker seeking re-election as an MP then the electorate will not know as the decision is made at the start of each Parliament.

The Parliamentary website covers this.

Are some voters concerned by this? The answer is yes. I can't, however, find any case where these concerns materially affected a constituency election result though. In the linked case, for example, John Bercow was re-elected with a healthy majority.

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    There's a third option, which is probably more common than the one in the 2nd paragraph: if the sitting Speaker resigns in the middle of a parliament, and a new one is then elected. Obviously the new Speaker will have been a regular MP at the previous election (while the previous Speaker will have stood as the Speaker seeking re-election). Apr 3, 2019 at 22:10
  • The cases where "it materially affected a result" are exactly the cases in which the Speaker uses their casting vote. This most recently happened today.
    – Kevin
    Apr 4, 2019 at 2:39
  • @Kevin I meant that the voters’ concerns affected the election result. I’ Try to word that better.
    – Alex
    Apr 4, 2019 at 6:42
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    Yes, Bercow was re-elected with a healthy majority, but the fact that none of the major parties (Conservatives - though he was a Conservative before becoming the Speaker, Labour, and Lib Dems) stood candidates in that election meant there was no serious opposition either. Apr 4, 2019 at 9:01
  • I can understand constituency voters being disgruntled. If the Speaker's re-election is practically guaranteed, then they are essentially being stripped of any meaningful choice. It seems quite undemocratic.
    – Time4Tea
    Apr 4, 2019 at 12:39

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