Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tory Momentum?

Over the past few days, I've read several media reports about the upcoming British general election that state that the Conservative Party (a.k.a. the Tories), and their leader David Cameron, are gaining momentum as election day approaches (day after tomorrow).

But the opinion polls don't show much movement. The Liberal Democrats made a major gain after the first of the three unprecedented televised debates between the party leaders. Since then, the polls have put the Conservatives in the low-to-mid 30s, (in terms of percentage of the overall vote) with Labour and the Liberal Democrats close together in the high 20s.

The BBC projects that, based on its "poll of polls", an average of the results of several surveys, the Conservatives will win 278 seats, which would be the largest total, but well short of the 326 required for an overall majority. That projection puts Labour at 261 seats, with 82 going to the Liberal Democrats.

The reports of pro-Tory momentum sound credible, so I won't be too surprised if the election produces a small Conservative majority. However, it still seems likely that they will win a plurality, but not a majority.

That would put Britain into uncharted waters. Countries such as Germany expect to enter into protracted coalition negotiations after a general election. Those talks can go on for weeks. The British, on the other hand, are used to voting on Thursday and, if they decide to throw out the governing party, seeing the new prime minister move into 10 Downing Street on Friday.

This time, instead of wrapping things up on Friday, the fun might be just beginning.

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