Hung Parliament

Yes - the UK has been left with a hung parliament.

For those not used to the British system, what more or less happens is that everyone votes only for MP's (Members of Parliament) in their local representative district. So, somewhat like the US with its electoral college, but really a lot simpler. Of course these days you are voting to a degree for a Prime Minister - but a PM is still just that, the #1 MP. Sure, they have a fair bit more power than Nancy Pelosi (thank the heavens), but very limited when compared to the President. Also, every district is a simple first-past-the-post system: the first candidate to reach 51% of the vote gets the seat. This (the same system we have in the US) tends to screw third parties because theoretically they could win 30% of the national vote and get 0 representatives elected (this actually kind of happened).

The PM is selected by the party which gains the majority in Parliament, though these days you all know who the PM is going to be beforehand.

Except, in this case, there is no majority. The conservatives are a little shy, and would need the liberal democrats, and Labour would not have a majority even with the Lib Dems and the minor liberal parties combined.

The thing is that under the UK's unwritten constitution (its more about principles, precedent, and doing the proper thing - in other words it would be abused beyond recognition if the US tried that system), it is the sitting PM who normally gets to try and make a government first in a hung Parliament. However, this time the conservatives and lib dems are saying that given the overall election results, the conservatives should get first crack at it. Labour does not seem to be disagreeing at this point, and told the civil service (who really runs the country) to listen to whoever sets up a majority.

Graphic

The interesting thing though is how royally the liberal dems get screwed when you look at the election results.

  1. National Results after 648 of 650

UK - National seats at a glance

  • Prediction
  • 326 to win
Political Party Seats Change
Conservative
305 +97
Labour
258 -91
Liberal Democrat
57 -5
Scottish National Party
6 0
Plaid Cymru
3 +1
Others
19 -2

Share

  1. CON 36.1%
  2. LAB 29.1%
  3. LD 23.0%
  4. Others 11.9%

Swing

5% From LAB to CON

Full UK Scoreboard

Party Seats Gain Loss Net Votes % +/-%
Conservative 305 100 3 +97 10,681,417 36.1 +3.8
Labour 258 3 94 -91 8,601,441 29.1 -6.2
Liberal Democrat 57 8 13 -5 6,805,665 23.0 +1.0
Democratic Unionist Party 8 0 1 -1 168,216 0.6 -0.3
Scottish National Party 6 0 0 0 491,386 1.7 +0.1
Sinn Fein 5 0 0 0 171,942 0.6 -0.1
Plaid Cymru 3 1 0 +1 165,394 0.6 -0.1
Social Democratic & Labour Party 3 0 0 0 110,970 0.4 -0.1
Green 1 1 0 +1 284,566 1.0 -0.1
Alliance Party 1 1 0 +1 42,762 0.1 +0.0
UK Independence Party 0 0 0 0 914,811 3.1 +0.9
British National Party 0 0 0 0 562,977 1.9 +1.2
Ulster Conservatives and Unionists - New Force 0 0 1 -1 102,361 0.3 -0.1
English Democrats 0 0 0 0 64,826 0.2 +0.2
Respect-Unity Coalition 0 0 1 -1 33,251 0.1 -0.1
Traditional Unionist Voice 0 0 0 0 26,300 0.1
Christian Party 0 0 0 0 18,623 0.1
Independent Community and Health Concern 0 0 1 -1 16,150 0.1 +0.0
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 0 0 0 0 12,275 0.0
Scottish Socialist Party 0 0 0 0 3,157 0.0 -0.2
Others 1 1 1 0 319,891 1.1 0.0
Turnout 29,598,381 65.1 4.0


The liberal dems actually got 1% more of the vote than they did last time, but actually LOST 5 seats. It means they got 23% of the vote, but will hold only 9% of the seats in Parliament. They were, needless to say, not happy, and vehemently oppose the first-past-the-post.

The thing is, I would normally say I support 2 party systems due to their history of actually getting things done, and not collapsing all the time. But when a 3rd party is really almost as large as the big 2, but is getting such a tiny chunk of the representation, that does seem a little off to me. All is not lost however, as the close election between labour and tories means the lib dems will wield a huge amount of power.

Still though, regardless of my personal preferences (for the tories to run the country), I would still say that while first-past-the-post works great for 2 party systems (it keeps the riff-raff out), when you have a legitimate and popular 3rd party, it does seem somewhat less than democratic.

Regardless, this is going to be an interesting ride. Not exactly the best time for there not to be a majority either - seeing as the UK may be facing its own debt crises, and Europe is in a transitional time. Hopefully they get something banged out right quick.

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