Bri­tain’s hotly con­tested elec­tion is caus­ing a stir

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

We are cur­rently wit­ness­ing the most closely con­tested elec­tion in Bri­tish pol­i­tics in over 20 years. The coun­try is now ready to take to the polls and cast its bal­lots. Amid all the spec­u­la­tion and un­cer­tainty, most an­a­lysts can agree on one only fact: there won’t be a strong ma­jor­ity.

Opin­ion polls in­di­cate that David Cameron and the rul­ing Con­ser­va­tive party are closely tied with Ed Miliband and the Labour party cur­rently in op­po­si­tion. If nei­ther party wins an out­right ma­jor­ity, as looks likely, one of them will be forced to cre­ate a coali­tion gov­ern­ment with a smaller party. The Lib­eral Democrats, at present in coali­tion with the Con­ser­va­tives, could po­ten­tially go ei­ther way.

More con­tro­ver­sially, the Scot­tish Na­tional Party which has risen from al­most noth­ing, is tak­ing cen­tre stage in the elec­tion battle. Its fierce leader Ni­cola Stur­geon has won over the Labour vote across Scot­land, but Cameron is warn­ing that the SNP could team up with Labour and hold the party hostage, only con­tribut­ing to a ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment if they can push through mea­sures that ben­e­fit the Scots and get rid of Tri­dent nu­clear de­ter­rent at the ex­pense of the rest of Bri­tain. That’s cer­tainly a very fright­en­ing sce­nario, al­beit per­haps a slightly ex­ag­ger­ated one.

The un­cer­tain po­lit­i­cal out­look is giv­ing rise to eco­nomic con­cern: the mar­kets fear volatil­ity and the two main par­ties have very dif­fer­ent ap­proaches. The Con­ser­va­tives are trump­ing the fact that the econ­omy has grown 8.4% since they came to power in 2010. They say that the coun­try is only just be­gin­ning to en­joy the sac­ri­fices made and that their ef­forts are still in progress. A Con­ser­va­tive-led gov­ern­ment is likely to cut cor­po­ra­tion tax and has promised to halt the rise of in­come tax, win­ning it the sup­port of the coun­try’s lead­ing busi­ness fig­ures. Over 100 se­nior ex­ec­u­tives, in­clud­ing, to Miliband’s em­bar­rass­ment, five busi­ness­men who pre­vi­ously sup­ported Labour, have said that Con­ser­va­tive eco­nomic poli­cies sig­nal that the UK is busi­ness-friendly and this will boost the re­cov­ery.

Labour, how­ever, ar­gues that most av­er­age Bri­tons do not feel the ben­e­fit of any eco­nomic progress. A Labour-led gov­ern­ment is likely to in­crease min­i­mum wage and public sec­tor wages, and has pledged to slow down the over­all pace of spend­ing cuts.

On top of this de­bate about eco­nomic pol­icy is the pos­si­bil­ity of a mar­ket-shak­ing ref­er­en­dum. A Con­ser­va­tive victory could lead to a ref­er­en­dum on stay­ing in the EU. Although Cameron is in favour of the Union, he is keen to qui­eten the far-right, anti-EU, UKIP voice and give the public their vote. Mean­while, the SNP, if they form a coali­tion with Labour, may de­mand an­other ref­er­en­dum on Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence.

As the ster­ling and stock mar­kets come un­der pres­sure, shak­ing at the prospect of po­lit­i­cal dead­lock or dis­pute, the peo­ple of Bri­tain will make their de­ci­sion. Any out­come is pos­si­ble. And with such strong emo­tions and con­vic­tions com­ing from mul­ti­ple fac­tions of the so­ci­ety, a few may need to re­mind them­selves of the wis­dom of Win­ston Churchill: “Democ­racy is the worst form of gov­ern­ment ex­cept all those other forms.”

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