United Kingdom Elections 2017

Britain has one of the earliest electoral systems in the world which has developed gradually over a period of several centuries. This year in April, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May called a general election as she wanted a bigger majority to “strengthen her hand in Brexit talks.” The call for a general election was three years before it was needed by UK electoral law. According to political analysts, Prime Minister May had several sound reasons to call for an early election.  May succeeded David Cameron last year owing to the decision of the Conservative Law makers after Brexit referendum blew up in Cameron’s face. Therefore, to rule without having a personal mandate proved rather difficult for May ever since she became the Prime Minister. May’s Conservatives only had a 17- seat majority in the 650- seat House of Commons. Therefore, they were exposed to the possibility of revolts by a “small number of lawmakers.” It was believed that an increased majority would not only provide more freedom to negotiate on matters like the Brexit Bill and clearing financial settlement with the EU. According to some political experts, PM May wanted to “escape” Cameron’s tax and spending commitments made last year prior to the election. “Lower growth and a higher budget deficit through 2020” was anticipated by the government on account of Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn, who was said to have started the general elections as a “rank outsider” yet managed to ride a “surge in support “before the polls began. In 2015 Mr. Corbyn’s candidacy for party leadership was not considered seriously until he astonished everyone by his “stunning landslide victory.” In 2016 Corbyn sacked the shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn over the phone who had “lost confidence in his ability to lead the party.” Resultantly three quarters of Corbyn’s MP’s, tried to oust him nevertheless he has been lionized by his leftists grass root supporters. In reaction to a call for early election, Corbyn said that his party desired the election considering it an opportunity to get a government that places “the majority first.” Corbyn had plans to deal with “the crisis in housing, education funding and the NHS” besides making efforts for an “economy that works for all.” Mr. Corbyn during the last few weeks of his campaign had shifted his focus “beyond Brexit” to problems like social care, health, education and the need to raise the number of food banks. Time and again Corbyn pointed out that whether the extremely rich for whom the Conservatives had reduced taxes were ignoring the plight of the poor. The Promise made by the Labour leader to re-nationalize public services, and to put an end to tuition fees in higher education gained him admiration from young voters. Corbyn’s frequent appearances on television made him more popular and gained him appreciation as a sober, reasonable person aiming to reduce poverty.

It may appear surprising to many that the UK electoral system works in such a way that “votes are not the ultimate prize in the general elections.” Wining seats is the “ultimate prize” Each of the 650 seats in the parliament is connected to a constituency in the country. Each seat is won by a straight competition between candidates in that district. For a party to win it must gain 326 out of 65o seats in the House of Commons, and obtain a majority needed to form a government.

Theresa May could not win a parliamentary victory in the UK General elections therefore the country was left with the option of a “hung Parliament.” It became impossible for any party to obtain the 326 MPs, needed to gain a complete majority in the House of Commons after Labour’s success in Southampton. The term “hung parliament” refers to a situation when no party wins enough seats in the general election to gain a majority in the House of Commons. The last hung parliament in Britain was in 2010 therefore it is certainly not a new experience. After the Election results, some political observers implied that May could be criticized by Conservatives for losing majority only for the sake of a snap election. Some analysts even speculated that May could be asked to step down by her MP’s.  Conversely, there were analysts who ruled out the probability of May’s stepping down by suggesting that the Conservatives would rather strike deals with other parties to share power.

 In Britain, the State opening of the parliament is marked by the Speech of Queen Elizabeth 2.  The speech has set forth 27 laws which the government expects to pass in the following two years. As the members of the British Parliament have already started to debate on the Queen’s speech, one must desire that everything goes well in Britain.

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