Millions of UK voters in England, Wales, and Scotland headed to polling stations on Thursday to elect their new local representatives.
While local council elections determine everything from trash collections to housing, this election will be a clear demonstration of the nation’s attitude toward Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party.
Feelings toward Johnson have been somber in the last year, following endless scandals surrounding him and his political party, particularly “partygate.”
The so-called “partygate” scandal refers to the 12 illegal social gatherings the Conservative Party was embroiled in throughout lockdown when social distancing measures were put in place by the same government.
As a result, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party may emerge victorious in this year’s council election, due to the frustration the British voters may be feeling toward the Tory government.
As ballot-counting continues, both the Tory and Labour parties suffered disappointing results so far, BBC News reported.
Johnson’s party is receiving some underwhelming vote counts in London, while Labour Party leader Keir Starmer’s progress is also nothing to write home about.
As Brits eagerly await the results of council elections, here’s an explainer about how the UK elections work and what the results could mean for the UK government.
How does it work?
More than 4,350 seats will be contested in England on over 140 councils. In Wales, 22 councils are holding elections, as well as Scotland’s 32 councils.
In Wales, all seats in 22 local councils are being contested, where people can vote from the age of 16, unlike in England, where the minimum age to vote is 18.
In Scotland, the last election in 2017 saw the Conservative Party take over from Labour, however, they failed to gain overall control and as a result, most councils have been run by coalitions.
The election will also allow voters to have their say on national issues including the cost of living crisis.
What are Brits voting for?
Voters will elect local councilors for the next term, which is typically four years.
Local councils are responsible for everything from an individual’s area for planning issues, and housing, to providing plans to tackle climate change.
Other responsibilities include local town transport, trash collections, and providing mental health resources to the community.
What does this mean for the UK government?
What may come in the aftermath of the elections is a cabinet reshuffle for the Tory Party.
Local elections are always seen as verdicts on national party leaders, so if Tories see a disappointing turnout, it is a direct reflection of the nation’s feelings toward the Conservative government.
At the last set of local elections in May 2021, the Tories gained 235 seats and took control of 13 councils thanks to its response to COVID-19 vaccines, BBC News reported.
However, this year’s elections are taking place in a much different political climate as Johnson and his team could be looking at losing between 250-350 seats.
Losing this many seats wouldn’t really change much in the grand scheme of things, but it will highlight how other parties’ popularity is increasing.
When will we know the results?
As soon as England’s polling stations closed at 10 p.m. UK time Thursday, ballot counting began.
The results are expected to be announced anytime between Friday evening and Saturday.
While vote counting in England began soon after polls closed, Scotland and Wales will see their vote count begin on Friday.