Want More Political Parties? Look at Britain First

By Casey, Terrence | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 5, 2015 | Go to article overview

Want More Political Parties? Look at Britain First


Casey, Terrence, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Americans, frustrated with the partisan machinations of Republicans and Democrats, frequently yearn for a third party -- or parties. On Thursday the United Kingdom will go to the polls and all signs point to no single party winning a majority. The result will be the sort of multiparty system many Americans desire. Far from moderating politics, the result has potential to make for more extreme politics and political instability.

Britain used to have a two-party system. Back in the 1950s the Conservative and Labour parties pulled about 98 percent of the votes. Over decades, that dominance eroded such that by the 2010 general election the two main parties polled only 65 percent. Projections this time are that Conservatives and Labour look to gain about two-thirds of the votes. Neither is likely to come close to a majority. Where have their voters gone?

Labour is bleeding seats to a resurgent Scottish National Party (SNP), which advocates Scottish independence. Ironically, losing on a referendum on the issue last September has energized the party. The SNP will likely take the majority of Scotland's 59 seats.

Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives face problems on two fronts. For one, their coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, have paid the political price for the austerity policies of the past five years. Their support has slipped to single digits.

The Conservatives are also being pressured by the UK Independence Party (UKIP), whose core mission is to make Britain independent of the European Union. UKIP's leader, Nigel Farage, with his "bloke with a pint" image and populist, anti-immigrant message, appeals to many disgruntled Conservative voters. UKIP may only win a handful of seats, but it may pull off enough Conservative voters in other constituencies to hand those seats to Labour. …

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