Tories, Grits need bits from the splits to rule Brits

07May10

And Canadians think we have it bad.

Britons woke this morning to the first potential “hung parliament” in 35 years, as yesterday’s federal election failed to produce a majority government. As of this morning, with five seats left to count, David Cameron’s Conservatives held the most seats, but not enough to form a majority.

As reported by the Associated Press today, Cameron has already reached out to the third-place Liberal-Democrats in a bid to form a majority. This move would fly in the face of British convention, which stipulates that the governing party heading into the election — Gordon Brown’s Labour Party in this case — gets first crack at forming a coalition government in the event of a hung parliament.

While, as noted by AP and other press, it is likely that David Clegg’s Liberal-Democrats have more common ground with Brown and his party, Cameron has already taken the step of reaching out to Clegg in an attempt to quickly seize power.

But the potential coalition isn’t without a few obstacles, among them the Liberal-Democrats commitment to electoral reform. Clegg and Company are big on the idea of introducing proportional representation to Britain — a system that would potentially lead to a steady stream of minority governments.

(Little wonder the Liberal Democrats want this, as they are always a distant horse in every election race.)

The plot doesn’t end here, though. If Clegg decides to side with Brown instead, Labour would still be several seats short of a majority, leaving them with little choice but to cobble together support from Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties to gain enough seats to form the next government.

Sound eerily familiar? (Think Ottawa, December, 2008, certain deals involving certain Canadian nationalist parties)

Whatever the end result may be, many British folk are nervous at the prospect of an unstable government following a heavy recession marked by a large rise in unemployment and home losses.

It’s going to be an interesting few days in Britain.

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