10/05/2010 - Results
The Conservative Party (Tories) won - as forecast in the polls –the general elections that took place in the UK on 6th May. David Cameron's Tories won 36.1% of the vote and 306 seats in the House of Commons i.e. + 97 in comparison with the last general election on 5th May 2005 but they need 20 more to have the absolute majority to govern (326 seats).
Labour led by outgoing Prime Minister Gordon Brown came second winning 29% of the vote and 258 seats –91). The Liberal Democrats (LibDems) led by Nick Clegg did not achieve what the polls had forecast in the ballot and won 23% of the vote and 57 seats (-5).
In spite of its voting system built to define clear majorities uncertainty now hangs over the British political arena after these elections. The LibDems, in spite of their result, are however now in the position of kingmaker.
"The electorate like neither Labour nor the Tories but they like Labour less than the Tories. And they doubt the LibDems,
" stressed YouGov director Peter Kellner. "All of the parties have their reasons to be disappointed,
" analyses Vernon Bogdanor, political expert at the University of Oxford.
The other seats in the House of Commons will be divided between several regional parties and the Greens: the Ulster Democratic Party (DUP), 8 seats (-1); the Scottish National Party (SNP), 6 (=) ; Sinn Fein (SF), 5 (=); Plaid Cymru (PC), 3 (+ 1); the Social Democratic Party (SDLP), 3 (=) ; the Alliance Party (APNI), 1 (+ 1) and the Greens (G), 1 (+ 1). Caroline Lucas, at present MEP became the first Green MP to be elected in the UK on 6th May as she won the constituency of Brighton Pavilion with 31.33% of the vote, 28.91% went to Labour and 23.68% to the Conservatives. The British National Party (BNP) failed to win a seat. Its leader Nick Griffin was beaten in the constituency of Barking and Dagenham in the eastern suburbs of London.
Only 649 MPs were elected on 6th May; the death of the UK Independence Party candidate (UKIP) from Thirsk & Malton, John Boakes obliged the authorities to delay the election which will now take place on 27th May.
Turnout rose to 65.1% i.e. +3.8 points in comparison with the previous elections on 5th May 2005. Voters in several polling stations were unable to fulfil their civic duty however: at 10pm - the time when the election ends - many were still waiting to vote.
In England the Tories came first with 297 seats far ahead of Labour (191 seats) and the LibDems (43). In Scotland the Labour Party easily won taking 41 of the 59 seats with one only going to the Conservatives and 11 to the LibDems. In Wales, Labour won 26 seats, the Tories 8 and the LibDems 3. In Northern Ireland Peter Robinson, Democratic Ulster Party, was beaten in his constituency of Belfast East by the Alliance Party candidate Naomi Long. Reg Empey, the Ulster Unionist Party leader also lost his seat in South Antrim to the benefit of William McCrea (DUP).
Outgoing Prime Minister Gordon Brown was the best elected of the leaders of the three main parties. He won his constituency of Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath in Scotland with 64.5% of the vote, David Cameron won in Witney with 58.8% of the vote and Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam with 53.4% of the vote.
After the election the UK finds itself with a hung Parliament. The last parliament without an absolute majority dates back to February 1974. Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson governed for eight months without a majority in the House of Commons before convening new elections in October 1974, an election his party won.
The results on 6th May thereby open the way to negotiations between the political leaders.
"The Labour government no longer has any authority to govern our country,
" declared David Cameron who started discussions with the LibDems on 7th May in the evening. Both parties who should be able to agree on economic issues - Nick Clegg said that he would approve the budget put forward by David Cameron - oppose one another however in a number of vital areas including European policy, immigration and taxation, nuclear energy and defence. The concessions that David Cameron would be led to make in order to form a coalition with the LibDems might be difficult for some of his party members to accept and he might upset his supporters. The Tories made a pre-electoral alliance with the Democratic Ulster Party (DUP) even though political analysts believe that some DUP MPs will refuse to support David Cameron.
Nick Clegg re-iterated his position adopted during the campaign which was that he was ready to negotiate with the party which won the greatest number of seats and which in his opinion had the moral mandate to lead the country. He indicated on 7th May that he wanted a fairer country in terms of taxation, its political system and a reform of the banks. During the electoral campaign the LibDems pinpointed four areas in their programme which would be non-negotiable: the payment of aid for the education of the poorest, the establishment of £10,000 as the threshold of annual income from which point tax is due, a reform of the City via the separation of investment banks and networks and the creation of a 10% tax on banks to fund the return to work on the part of recession victims and finally a reform of Parliament. On this point, James Landale, a BBC journalist suggested that the Tories might accept that a referendum be held on a reform of the electoral system whilst reserving the right to campaign against it.
An alliance between the Conservative Party and the LibDems is the only one that will lead to a government that holds a real majority (363 seats).
"I shall play my role. It is my duty to ensure that the UK has a strong, stable government,
" indicated outgoing Prime Minister Gordon Brown who said he was prepared to talk with Nick Clegg if the latter did not manage to agree with the Conservatives. However the alliance between Labour and the LibDems would only lead to 315 seats, below the absolute majority. Both parties might envisage forming an alliance with the Social Democratic Labour Party or the Alliance Party to form a minority government.
The Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru are still the unknowns in these negotiations. Both said during the electoral campaign that they although they had negotiated with one of the "big
" parties, they would do everything they could to progress their regional claims with regard to Scotland and Wales respectively.
No deadline has been officially established for the settlement of negotiations between the political leaders. They should however have concluded by 25th May the date when Queen Elizabeth II will speak to Parliament and when she will establish the next government's priorities.
For the time being it is difficult to forecast what the colour(s) of the next British government will be. One thing is certain however: the Britons would not look with a favourable eye on the parties which try to make them re-vote to solve the present cul-de-sac. "The elections are very expensive, the coffers are empty and the ones who are able to raise funds the easiest are the Conservatives which gives all the advantages to David Cameron,
" stresses Tony Travers, political expert at the London School of Economics (LSE).