ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Political Mould Broken or Business as Usual?

UK Elections

Though the Tories under David Cameron have won a second term with a majority, the United Kingdom's political mould has broken with the recent elections. Most significantly, Scotland is on a journey of its own--and a largely positive-looking one. Labour has to reinvent its political story and purpose, just as the LibDems have to. The support for both the UK Independence Party and the Greens suggests voters are looking more widely for answers to today's challenges. And Cameron's small majority may soon come to cause him problems.

As David Cameron settles back into No 10 Downing Street for a second term as Prime Minister, this time leading a majority Conservative government not a Tory–LibDem coalition, it looks like business as usual. All through the six-week election campaign, the opinion polls—from a wide variety of pollsters—said there would be a hung Parliament, with much of the election debate focused not on policies but how and which governing coalitions might form. The pollsters got it wrong—and have even set up an inquiry into why. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s (UK) first-past-the-post, two-main-parties democracy seems, at first glance, to be in decent health.

Yet, the election results were in many ways dramatic, different and suggest the UK’s political mould is indeed breaking. As the very last results came in on the morning of 8 May after a long election night, three party leaders resigned in the space of one hour—Ed Miliband, having led Labour to a disastrous defeat; Nick Clegg, surveying the decimation of his LibDem party; and Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) despite its almost 10% increase in votes—the highest of any party. Meanwhile, up in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish National Party (SNP) leader was celebrating her party winning 56 of 59 seats. Back in Downing Street, Cameron was celebrating a sweet victory and an unexpected majority.

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