How The UK Election Is Almost Guaranteed To End In Stalemate
As the U.K. prepares for Thursday’s general election, no party is expected to win an outright majority.
With the Conservative and Labour parties competing for influence over a constellation of smaller, ideologically diverse parties, a period of vigorous favor-trading and coalition-building will follow the election.
The Conservatives, led by David Cameron, hope to maintain the control that they won in 2010’s election. But their coalition partners in the centrist Liberal Democrat party are unlikely to lend their support to Cameron a second time, after Conservative-led budget cuts led to widespread criticism of the “Lib Dems” as mere political pawns in a Conservative game. (RELATED: UK Conservatives’ Hindi Election Song Is Catchy AND Awkward [VIDEO])
Conservative budget cuts have provoked a left-wing backlash, which Labour’s leader Ed Miliband hopes to rally into support from smaller parties such as the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats. While Labour has rejected any prospect of a direct alliance with the controversial pro-Scottish-independence party, the SNP’s increasing popularity in Scotland means that it is effectively stealing seats from what would otherwise be a Labour majority.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives have depicted Labour’s Miliband as a tool of the SNP, suggesting that a vote for Labour is a vote for a government that would pave the way to an independent Scotland. For the SNP’s part, its leader Nicola Sturgeon is vehemently opposed to any deal with the Conservatives, and so may be forced to find common ground with Labour after votes are counted.
The Conservatives are also threatened from the right by the U.K. Independence Party. UKIP is known for its staunch opposition to foreign immigration and British membership in the European Union. With its need to win support from every possible corner, the Conservative Party is likely to be challenged by UKIP and its centrist challengers, which would be averse to sharing a coalition.
For those observing the election from the United States, several key issues are at stake. Cameron’s Conservative-led government has been supportive of the US-led bombing campaign against Islamic State jihadis in the Middle East, while Labour has become much more skeptical of military intervention abroad in the last decade. Cameron’s fiscal “austerity” has also been a test case for American-style small-government conservatism, a policy whose popularity may be put to the test on Thursday.
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