One was Elmo. The other was a man dressed in, among other things, a comically large hat. His name is Nick the Incredible Flying Brick.

That’s the result of one of the major differences between UK elections and those in Australia.
Keir Starmer with someone dressed as Elmo and other candidate for his local constituency
After delivering his local victory speech, Keir Starmer shook hands with someone dressed as Elmo. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Australia uses a preferential voting system, where a candidate needs at least 50 per cent of the vote to claim a seat in parliament, and preferences are often required to determine who comes out on top – meaning the counting process can take days, in some cases.

The UK, on the other hand, uses the “first past the post” system.

There are no preferences, it’s simply a case of whoever gets the most votes wins the constituency (the British equivalent of an electorate), even if that total is less than 50 per cent.

While this can still take a while, it makes for a far quicker count than in Australia.

Independent candidate Count Binface speaks to a journalist
Count Binface ran as an independent against Rishi Sunak. (Temilade Adelaja, Pool via AP)

Rather than analysts and media organisations “calling” seats for a party, British returning officers formally declare the results of constituencies once counts are complete.

This is done in front of all the candidates, with each of their vote totals read out to the public.

The one word that sums up the UK election

That’s why Elmo and Nick the Incredible Flying Brick were both on stage with Starmer – they’d both run for the constituency and gathered a few hundred votes between them.

It’s also why you saw someone dressed as a rubbish bin – Count Binface, real name Jon Harvey – around Rishi Sunak, having also run for the incumbent prime minister’s seat. 

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