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May 07, 2010

UK Election Results: Chaos

The people of the UK voted and decided they pretty much don't like anyone.

The Conservatives picked up around 90 108 seats but they had so few seats after so many years of Labour rule even picking up that many seats wasn't enough to get them an outright majority. Labour has lost about 80 100 seats (there are still a handful of outstanding seats to be awarded). The Liberal Democrats seem to have about the same number of seats with 57 so far (actually, they lost 5 seats).

So at this point it looks like the Conservatives have 304, Labour 257 and Liberal Democrats 57 and a handful of minor parties (Scottish, Irish, Welsh based parties and the Greens even won one) have 28. It takes 326 to get a majority.

What happens now? Let's make a deal!

Despite the fact he's led his party to a historic defeat, as sitting Prime Minister Gordon Prime Minister gets first shot at forming a government. Technically his 'term' doesn't end and he doesn't need to go to the Queen. As long as he can produce a majority on "The Queen's Speech", he stays Prime Minister until he resigns or losses a vote of no-confidence in the House.

If he can't produce that majority, he will resign and the Conservatives, under David Cameron will get the chance to form a government.

Right now the fight is over how realistic it is for a 'coalition of the losers' (Labour and the Lib Dems) to form a government. It's kind of like 2000 when Gore won the popular vote but Bush won the electoral vote.

If Brown can't get a deal together Cameron will have the chance to either form a formal coalition with the Lib Dems or run a minority government. The minority government route means he either cuts deals with another party or parties to vote with them on a few key votes or promises to at least abstain on them (which would give Conservatives the pluralities they need in the Commons).

Right now the man of the hour is Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Dems. He was thought to have been the guy people thought won the first debate and that his party would surge. There was talk they would get in the neighborhood of 100 sets. Not so much.

Who will Clegg go with?

During the election campaign, leader Nick Clegg repeatedly said the party with the "biggest mandate" should get the right to govern.

Speaking on Friday morning, he said that he "stuck" by that position and that the Conservatives, having won the most seats and votes, should have first right to try and form a government in the "national interest".

Many commentators have interpreted his comments as suggesting he would not "prop-up" a government led by Mr Brown even though his predecessor Lord Ashdown has suggested his party is "too far apart" from the Conservatives.

The LibDems big meta issue is election reform. They want to do away with the UK's "First Past the Pole" system and towards proportional representation. On one hand a hung Parliament helps to get people thinking about reform but if people don't like the uncertainty it's producing, well this kind of backroom negotiating is a feature not a bug of a proportional representation type system.

Bottom line, someone will wind up forming a government and then they will likely wind up doing it all again later this year or early next.

All I can think of while watching this....Thank you James Madison!

Also...The exit poll looked a little shaky early on but it was vindicated by the end of things.

It was amusing to watch the BBC feed last night. All the analysts were befuddled by the results. The Conservatives released a list of their targets from 'most likely to take' to 'least likely'. They lost a fair number of the supposed low hanging fruit but made up for it by winning seats where they needed a big upset.


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posted by DrewM. at 10:32 AM

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