The British electorate on Thursday faces the likely and unusual result of a hung Parliament, that is, without a clear majority for either main party, Conservatives or Labor. Coalition governments are common on the continent but rare in England. Except for the current arrangement between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, the only two prior coalition governments in the last 150 years were during the two world wars of the 20th century.
Coalitions, at least in formation, tend to give fringe political views greater weight in government. In Britain the likely coalition parties are the Scottish Nationalists, the anti-European UK Independence Party, UKIP, and the current government partner the Liberal Democrats. The Scottish Nationalists are mainstream social democrats and aside from their focus on Scottish nationalism are unlikely to challenge the governing consensus on British membership in the European Union or to advocate joining the euro. The UKIP is a different story. They garnered the fourth most votes in the 2010 elections and won the highest share of any party in the 2014 European Parliament elections. They advocate leaving the European Union and much greater independence from continental concerns. A strong showing, let alone consideration or inclusion in government would send shockwaves throughout the European political and financial establishments.
Economic crisis have a way of dispensing with old political arrangement and fomenting new. We may be at the beginning of Europe’s emergence from the sureties of the post war world. Join us on Thursday for a sense of history as it happens.
Read here our special interview with Joseph Trevisani about UK Elections.