Uncertainty rife a month ahead of the UK election
In one month, the United Kingdom votes in a general election likely to put the nail in the coffin of two-party politics and herald an uncertain future of coalitions, alliances and horse-trading.
Neither of the two parties that have dominated parliament since the 1920s, the Conservatives and the Labour Party, is expected to win the 326 House of Commons seats out of 650 needed to govern alone.
They will likely have to team up with a smaller party or parties instead.
The prime minister after May 7 will be one of two men — the incumbent, Conservative Party leader David Cameron, who currently heads a coalition government, or his Labour counterpart Ed Miliband.
Those two points aside, the rest is about as murky as the River Thames.
The BBC’s opinion poll tracker currently puts the center- right Conservatives on 34 percent and center-left Labour on 33 percent, followed by the anti-EU UK Independence Party, and then by the current junior coalition partners the Liberal Democrats, and afterward, the Greens and a string of other parties.
The UK’s Shifting Identity
As if that were not complicated enough, the election is also bringing into focus two important ways in which the UK’s identity could change in the coming decades.
Nationalist parties, particularly the pro- independence Scottish National Party (SNP), look set to make major gains, which could hasten the transfer of more powers to the individual countries that make up the United Kingdom.
Support for the SNP has surged even though Scotland voted against independence in a referendum last year.
It is expected to win most of Scotland’s House of Commons seats in May and says it could be prepared to prop up a minority center-left Labour government in return for key concessions.
Another consequence of the election is that some of the biggest names in British politics could lose their jobs.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, whose centrist Liberal Democrats are the coalition’s junior partners, has seen his party’s support slump to single figures in government and could lose his seat, according to the polls.
Nigel Farage of UKIP has said he will quit if he fails to win the House of Commons seat he is contesting.
But many Britons could be more interested in a totally different celebrity come May.
Kate, wife of Prince William, is due to give birth to the couple’s second baby in the second half of April, an event whose pageantry and razzmatazz threatens to eclipse anything on offer in the gloomy corridors of the parliament at Westminster.