icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
7 May, 2010 06:28

Tories to claim bigger share of hung parliament- exit polls

Exit polls place the Conservative party ahead of its rivals in the UK general elections. However, most probably, the Tories will fail to gain the majority necessary to form a government.

To have a clear majority the Conservatives would need 326 seats. So far exit polls give the Tories 291 seats.

The results were coming in quite slowly, and it has taken more time than previously expected to count the votes as the voter turn-out was quite high for this election.

In case the conservatives fail to get a majority, there are two possibilities available to them. They can either stay in the minority and try to rule, or they can try to persuade other parties to join them.

However, in case they opt out for the former, it would make it much more difficult for them to pass laws. In the wake of economic recession, when some tough measures are considered to be underway, lack of unanimity might hinder the process severely.

This election has turned out to be quite different from the usual electoral routine.

The third party, the Liberal-Democrats, emerged as a real rival for the traditional players of British politics: the Conservatives and the Labor party.

The huge popularity of the liberal democrats’ leader Nick Clegg earned this election campaign the nickname Clegg-mania. For the first time in history, Britain held American-style televised debates, in which Nick Clegg performed very well.

The supporters of Liberal Democrats were hopeful earlier in the day.

“From change comes progression and forward thinking. It just gets stuck in a rut and the two parties are so similar. That’s the problem – you can’t tell conservative from Labor these days. New Labor was conservative with a small C, say,” says a male respondent in London.

It is now clear that their hopes were doomed. Despite all the expectations for a change, exit polls give the party around 51 seats, which is fewer than they had in the previous government.

Experts say that poor results of Liberal Democrats are due to the vagaries of the “first-past-the-post” electoral system. Under this system, the candidate with most votes in the constituency wins, and all other votes count for nothing.

“The problem for the Liberal Democrats is that they could pile up millions of votes, coming second in a large number of constituencies, and not really get the right number of votes to come first, because Labor and Conservatives’ support is more class-structured, so they have stronghold seats which are very difficult for the Lib Democrats to overturn,” says Patrick Dunleavy, a professor from the London School of Economics.

Supporters for the electoral reform, including Liberal Democrats themselves, say the system whereby the winner takes it all is definitely flawed.

“We had the situation last time in 2005 where the Labor party won 92 more seats than
the Conservatives in England, and yet the Conservatives in England had more votes. We get these wrong winners that appear out of our system,”
says Ken Richie, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society.

Casting ballots did not go without a scandal. Voting stations in several constituencies, some of them in London, are reported to have turned away voters. Some people, eager to cast their votes, arrived at the stations shortly before they were supposed to close at 10pm. The stations did not know how to act in this case. Some of them closed the doors just to the people outside; others let them in and allowed the casting of ballots after 10pm, which is technically an illegal vote.

People who were not permitted to vote claim they were denied their basic democratic right. What is likely to happen is that the election commission will have to step in when other counts are complete. Some candidates in these constituencies are already calling for a recount. This is likely to happen if they lose by a large margin.