A welcome uncertainty, a shameful chaos. That is what
That would disgrace a country learning about free elections after decades of totalitarian rule. If it happened in
Failure to run and to reform public services properly, despite showering them with money, is one reason that Labour has lost so many seats. But it has not lost office automatically. The Conservatives have won, but not by enough to gain power straightaway. And the Liberal Democrats have failed to make their hoped-for breakthrough, but won enough seats for their voters’ wishes to matter more than ever.
Sure that means uncertainty, of a kind that is unfamiliar in
That system was perhaps defensible in the days when the two main parties won 90% of the vote between them. But it doesn’t fit a system in which the electorate is split three ways. In this election, the Liberal Democrats won nearly a quarter of the votes and gained less than a tenth of the seats.
The first big question is whether Labour will be able to hang on by offering the Lib Dems a shift to a fair voting system. That could even include Gordon Brown resigning as Labour leader, making way for another prime minister. If that fails, then it will be time for the Conservatives to try—perhaps with a formal arrangement with the Liberal Democrats, perhaps in a minority government. The Conservatives had a good night—they pushed up their overall share of the vote to more than 36%. But their claims to have a convincing mandate sounded hollow. They made tremendous gains in the easy seats—but failed to win the difficult ones that would have given them a majority in the 326-member lower house of parliament.
Anywhere else in
Yet for all that the uncertainty is welcome, because it brings the chance of a change in