Friday, May 07, 2010

British Election Results in Biggest Conservative Gains in 80 years

Yet no clear majority for governing!


British opposition Conservative party Leader David Cameron (L) stands with stands with Alan Hope of the Monster Raving Looney William Hill Party, during the count for the seat of Witney, at the count centre in Witney, central England on May 7, 2010. Britain's opposition Conservatives came top in a knife-edge general election Thursday but fell short of the clear-cut majority needed to return to power after 13 years in opposition, exit polls suggested. If confirmed, the forecast would leave Britain with a so-called 'hung parliament' for the first time since 1974.
I've been watching the British elections all night and as much as people complain about U.S. elections, be glad we don't run ours on the British model. Long lines and many people unable to vote by the 10 PM closing time. Lots of splinter parties and silly candidates like Alan Hope above dilute the ability of one side or the other to gain a clear majority (this should be a warning to anyone who thinks a third party is a good idea).

Conservatives came from an extraordinarily weak position and ended up with the largest number of seats, but overall, their percentage of the vote nationwide was 36.4%. What kind of mandate does that suggest as they try and form a government by negotiating to get votes from some of the smaller parties who hold a handful of seats or by working with the Liberal Democrats. (results with geographic distribution of seats here)

Liberal Democrats who had expected big wins on the basis of strong showings in debates by their leader Nick Clegg were disappointed that they actually lost seats overall.

As for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, he may try and form a coalition with Liberal Democrats to stay in power. But it's clear from the election results with his Labor Party losing 81 seats (as of this hour) that he does not have the support of the British people that some suggest he must have to form a credible government.

It will be interesting to watch as our British cousins sort all of this out in the days ahead. The Conservatives, led by David Cameron, have a strong case to make for control of Parliament and government, But then, they have positioned themselves to simply do a better job managing the cradle to grave socialism which is endemic in Britain. Sadly, there's no Margaret Thatcher out there to roll back socialism. Still, many of our friends across the world (France, Italy, Germany, Canada to name a few) are moving to the right. It won't be long before the U.S. follows suit!

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