Last night, I fell asleep feeling like an excited child on Christmas Eve. I thought to myself, ‘when I wake up in the morning, things are going to be different, and there’s going to be a change.’ Well… not so much. “Clegg-mania” failed to deliver enough votes to make a significant impact, and we are now in what the Brits call a “Hung Parliment.” Even though the Conservatives (Cameron) have more seats/votes, there is no clear winning party–no majority. From what I gather, things are about to get sticky, messy and complicated. I’ll get to that later.
Be warned, if you’re not interested in politics or the UK elections, you may wanna skip this one.
First, let’s talk about the voting process here to begin with.
Back in the US, voting is completely different. When there’s a general election on, you vote for your local offices as well as the Presidential post and one is separate to the other. For example, let’s say I like the Democratic candidate for congress in my district, but I don’t like the Democratic candidate for President. I can vote Dem on congress and Republican on President. Of course, there’s always the “straight ticket” option as well, for those who don’t want to get too heavily involved.
Here in the UK however, it’s straight ticket all the way. Every area in the UK has an MP (Member of Parliment) to represent them. (For my area of Tooting, Sadiq Khan has been re-elected.) When people go to the polls, they do NOT vote for the office of Prime Minister directly. Instead, they vote for their local MP and that then counts (sort of) as a vote for PM. If a Labour MP wins a seat in a specific area, that’s one seat that counts towards Labour’s total. Any party needs 326 seats to be declared as the “winning” party and the majority. The leader of that party then becomes Prime Minister.
Coming over from a checks and balances system in the US, I find the system a bit flawed and unfair. For instance, the UK in the past few months have had several MP’s interrogated and accused of expenses scandal and using their perks for ill–such as a female MP buying porn on the country’s dime for her husband; MP’s claiming housing expenses on grand residences in London that stand empty; holidays on taxpayers’ money; and much more of the like. Now, no matter how much I wanted to see a candidate elected as PM, if the MP of that party who represented my area was involved in sketchy dealings, I’d be hard pressed to vote for him. Which means, if I didn’t vote for that MP, the candidate for PM didn’t get my vote either. It’s all or nothing. Then again, there’s not really a checks and balances system here, so I guess it makes sense to the Brits.
Also, polls are open from 7am to 10pm. That’s final. If you don’t have your ballot in hand at 10pm, you’re not voting–period. This year’s election saw the highest voter turnout in a long time, but sadly a lot of people were turned away after standing in line for an hour or more because they didn’t have a ballot in hand at the end of polling. Now they’re calling for investigations and a review of protocol. Should prove to be interesting.
Breakdown of Results
So as of 1.15 this afternoon, the results are as follows:
Conservatives (David Cameron) – 297 Seats
Labour (Gordon Brown) – 252 Seats
Lib Dems (Nick Clegg) – 53 Seats
What’s a “Hung Parliment?”
At 9.42 this morning, a “Hung Parliment” was declared. With 326 to win and only a few left to declare their results, it is mathmatically impossible for there to be a winning or majority party. This means that whenever a law comes to the vote, parties will have to merge and strike deals with one another to get anything done (sound familiar, Yanks?). In the UK, that’s generally frowned upon.
So we’re hanging… what’s next?
For starters, there will not be a declaration of Prime Minister until sometime next week, or even later. It gets a bit weird and complicated from here, so bear with me. I can’t really explain how it’s all done, but I’ve summarized directly from the BBC website what SHOULD happen next. The full link is: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8659878.stm
- No PM can be declared. Brown must remain as acting PM until an agreement can be reached, or until Brown elects to resign from office.
- Clegg will become, as they’re calling him, “The Kingmaker”. More than likely, both parties, both Labour and Conservative, will be reaching out to Clegg to get him and his party to align with either of theirs to form a coalition. Clegg will more than likely be offered a deal to become a cabinet member, and the Lib Dems will be assured key seats and posts as well. At this point, it’s going to come down to his morals and views versus who offers the sweetest deal. Before any bargains are on the table, already Clegg has aligned himself with Cameron.
- The Queen will sit down with Brown and ask him if he feels he can form a working governement. If he answers yes, she will invite him to do so and he will try to comply. If he fails or says no or resigns, Brown and his party will concede defeat and the Conservatives will have won.
At least, that’s how I understand it. Click on the article for a more in-depth, confusing version.
Where do we go from here?
Well, we wait. And we watch tv constantly. And come Monday, they’re expecting the markets to fall sharply because there is no clear cut winner to the election. So it could be a tense couple of days, but exciting ones, nonetheless.