Monday, May 4, 2015

Great Britain Less an American Partner

The election on May 7 will mark the beginning of Great Britain’s slide toward less stable government. Crossley Scholars have been observing the British election. The most recent report by Gina Jannone and Chelsea Bartholomew follows.

British Election Coming Down To The Wire

With less than a week to go before the May 7 British election, David Cameron’s Conservative Party and Ed Milibrand’s Labour Party remain locked in a tight race. The latest YouGov poll shows Labour picking up 35% support to the Conservatives’ 34%, with Labour picking up 276 parliamentary seats to the Conservatives’ 272. The two have been generally even since late March. The Liberal Democrats, partners in the current Conservative-led coalition government, have seen their support base all but implode and continue to trail the nationalistic, anti-EU Independence Party (UKIP) by three percentage points.

These numbers indicate the potential for a significant destabilization of the current coalition government. Meanwhile, new polling shows Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) on course to pick up all 59 Scottish seats, further highlighting the growing power of the nationalist movement that already initiated a close Scottish independence vote late last year. A potential for an SNP-Labour coalition has been ruled out by leaders of both parties, which could mean the Conservatives and Cameron will benefit from Labour’s loss of support in Scotland.

Some analysts are suggesting that Labour’s resurgence of popularity can be attributed to London’s changing demographics. A rise in migrant voters and ethnic minorities in London, along with shifts in population distribution, appear to be providing a boost to Labour’s support in the capital.

The campaigns are making significant efforts to take advantage of new media and attract disillusioned Millennials. Both of the top parties have heavily utilized social media to promote their agendas and criticize their opponents, and Milibrand recently made the somewhat controversial decision to sit down for an interview with British comedian Russell Brand, which garnered widespread media attention. It remains to be seen whether more young voters will show up to the polls for this election after only 51.2% participated in the previous contest. Younger voters tend to prefer Labour over the Conservatives:

Given the closeness of the race, the election’s impact on Britain’s role in the EU remains in flux. Cameron has indicated plans to renegotiate Britain’s role in the EU and bring the new terms to vote, while Milibrand has opposed such a plan. Depending on the final results and the potential for a second election or new coalitions, the risk of a British exit from the EU is not out of the picture.

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