Un­cer­tainty rife a month ahead of the UK elec­tion

The China Post - - COMMENTARY - BY DE­NIS HIAULT

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.

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