2022 is election year - an exciting learning opportunity for young people

Posted on
Fri, 04/02/2022

2022 is Assembly election year. Regular elections are an important feature of a democratic system, but they only happen a few times in a young person's school life. Northern Ireland Assembly elections are held usually every 5 years and an election year provides a great opportunity for young people to find out how democracy works in Northern Ireland. The Assembly's Education Service has a number of short animations for teachers to use in the classroom to explain the election is all about.

The Assembly is extremely busy as it tries to complete the legislatiive process for the many Bills currently in the system. If Bills have not reached Final Stage by the time the Assembly is dissolved (planned for midnight 27 March (6 weeks before the election), they 'fal'l and a lot of hard work will be lost.

To find out more about how a Bill is passed, watch our brand new animation, 'Making Laws'.

When the Assembly is dissolved, the 6 week election campaign will begin. The animation, 'What happens when an Assembly election is called', explains what the campaign is all about.

On election day itself - Thursday 5 May (although political developments could mean it happens sooner than expected), the people of Northern Ireland  will vote using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system. This is quite a complicated method of election. Voters rank candidates in order of preference, from 1 to 5. Parties may put forward more than one candidate in a constituency. Although you have only one vote, your one vote can help get more than one candidate elected. Here is a short, simple explanation of how it works.

Following the election, when MLAs have signed the register and elected a Speaker to chair plenary meetings in the Chamber, the Assembly appoints the Northern Ireland Government, called the Executive. To find out how this is done and what the different roles of the Assembly and Executive involve, watch this.

We have already mentioned one of the main roles of the Assembly - to make legislation. After all, MLAs are elected to be Members of the Legislative Assembly. The two other main roles are scrutiny of the Executive and representation of the people. Watch these two short animations to see how they carry out these roles:

Assembly Committees are very important to the work of the Assembly. While the Chamber may be a forum for often heated debate between parties, working together in committee rooms is usually more harmonious. Find out more about how committees work in this brand new animation.