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How Labour beat the Conservatives in Britain after 14 years, by the numbers

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LONDON (AP) — Great Britain’s Labour Party has defeated the Conservatives in a historic parliamentary election for control of the nation’s government. With most votes counted, here’s a breakdown of the numbers:

412 seats

Labour has won 412 seats — a 63% majority — of the 650 seats in the lower house of Parliament. One seat remains undeclared.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have 121 seats, the smallest number in the party’s two-century history, and down from 365 seats in 2019.

Smaller parties picked up millions of votes, including the centrist Liberal Democrats, who captured 71 seats — up by 60 from the last election. And one of the biggest losers was the Scottish National Party, which held most of Scotland’s 57 seats before the election but looked set to lose all but a handful, mostly to Labour.

Each seat represents a geographic area of the U.K. The leader of the party with enough seats to command a majority — either alone or in coalition — becomes prime minister and leads the government.

14 years of power

Labour’s landslide brought a new party to power for the first time in 14 years.

Parliament had been led by the center-right Conservatives since 2010. They had faced one challenge after another, including Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic and soaring inflation.

Many voters blamed the Conservatives for the litany of problems facing Britain, from unreliable train service to the cost-of-living crisis and the influx of migrants crossing the English Channel.

In 2010, the Labour Party had been ousted after being in power for 13 years, its longest ever stretch.

By the end of its last reign, Labour’s popularity had taken a dive. That was partly because of the deep recession in the U.K. that was wrought by the global financial crisis in 2008.

60% support for the two major political parties

Labour and Conservative candidates were barely able to muster 60% of votes cast in this election, marking a new low.

For the past 100 years, Britain’s two main political parties have garnered the vast majority of votes. In 1951, for example, the Conservatives and Labour netted nearly 97% of the vote combined. In the decades since, the trend has been clear — down.

The two main political parties had candidates running for more than 600 of the 650 seats in Parliament, according to the House of Commons Library. But so did three other parties: Liberal Democrat, Green and Reform.

4,515 candidates

An average of seven candidates — from almost 100 different political parties — ran for each seat, the library noted. Nine parties fielded over 50 candidates.

The total number of people running for a seat in Parliament was 4,515 this year, the library stated. That’s over a thousand more than in 2019.

Despite that relatively low share of the vote, Prime Minister Keir Starmer will be able to govern with a massive majority in the House of Commons.

In Britain, the candidate with the most votes in each constituency wins even if they don’t get a majority. This makes it easier for a party to win a seat on a relatively low share of the vote, especially when votes are spread out among many parties.

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