Explainer: City Hall elections 2024

Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter, explains what voters can expect in the 100 days before polling day on 2nd May

City Hall (credit GLA)
City Hall (credit GLA)

Today marks 100 days until the London mayoral election on Thursday, 2nd May.

The election will see Labour mayor Sadiq Khan attempt to win an historic third term at City Hall – a feat no previous mayor has ever achieved. His main opponent, the Conservative candidate Susan Hall, has vowed to stop him, and would also make history as London’s first female mayor.

Thirteen candidates have so far been declared as standing, though we won’t know the final number until nominations close in a couple of months’ time. The full list of names is expected on Thursday, 28th March.

Each of those candidates will have paid a £10,000 deposit to be on the ballot paper. They only get that money back if they receive at least 5% of the vote. At the last mayoral election in 2021, there were a record 20 candidates.

Over the next few weeks, Khan will finalise his budget proposals for the coming year. This is a process which happens every year, but ahead of an election, it’s effectively saying ‘These are the areas I will be allocating money towards if I am re-elected’.

Hall has meanwhile been holding back on making detailed commitments as to what she would spend money on, until the mayor has published that final budget – so once he’s done that at the end of February, she will start to set out her stall on a much wider range of policies.

In 2021, Khan published his manifesto about a month before the election. The Tory candidate in that contest, Shaun Bailey, published his just two-and-a-half weeks before the vote.

This election will be London’s first mayoral contest to use the first-past-the-post voting system, meaning that the winning candidate simply has to receive more votes than any other. Mayors were previously elected using the supplementary vote system, which meant Londoners were able to give a first and second preference.

Elections to the London Assembly will be happening on the same day as the mayoral contest. The assembly has 25 members and exists to hold the mayor to account, by scrutinising their policies and actions. It currently has eleven Labour members, nine Conservatives, three Greens and two Liberal Democrats.

Members of the London Assembly are elected using the additional member system, which combines both the first-past-the-post and party list voting methods of voting. Of the 25 assembly members, 14 are elected in constituencies using first-past-the-post, while the remaining eleven are London-wide members elected using the party list method.

It means voters get two choices, one for a constituency member and one for a London-wide representative. For a party to be included it needs to attain at least 5% of the vote across London.

Because of the way votes are distributed in a corrective manner, smaller parties such as the Greens and Lib Dems typically gain representation to the London Assembly via the proportional London-wide vote, while most Labour and Conservative members end up representing constituencies.

In 2021, Labour won nine constituency seats and two London-wide seats, the Tories won five constituency seats and four London-wide seats, while the Greens and Lib Dems won three and two London-wide seats respectively.

This year, Labour will be hoping to keep control of at least a third of the seats, which effectively gives them the balance of power, while smaller parties like Reform UK – previously known as the Brexit Party – will be hoping to win representation on the assembly for the first time.

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