Friday, May 6, 2011

UK election results

I should be doing other work, but I am an election junkie.   The UK held a number of elections and a referendum today.

Alternative Vote Referendum
AV is the voting system used in much of Australia and works well there.   It is not a perfect electoral system, but it is a dramatic improvement over the status quo.  Any election that has more then two serious candidates running for one position benefits from using AV instead of Fist Past the Post.   But AV is the ugly duckling that no one really wants.   It is not PR and it is not the status quo.    The public voting strongly against changing the voting system.

Once again a change to the electoral system has been voted down and by a much bigger margin than the 2009 vote in BC when Yes to STV lost the vote.

English Local Council Elections
Local council elections are normally viewed in the UK as a broad indication of the public mood.   Based on this year's result, the Liberal Democrats are being punished for being in a coalition with the Conservatives.   They have lost about 40% of their sitting councilors.   At the same time the Conservatives have not only not lost seats, they have gained seats, though not that many.

Labour came away as the big winner by gaining 50% more seats than last time.  The Greens also made some gains and could possibly emerge as a significant political party in the UK.

Welsh Local Assembly
Labour remains on top and remains close to have half the seats, a gain of four from the last election, their worst result in four Welsh elections.   The headline looks boring, the underlying trend is much more interesting.

Since 1999 Plaid Cymru has been the second largest party, though admittedly not dramatically larger after the first election.   PC is a party ultimately seeking an independent Wales.   In the election today PC has been passed by the Conservatives as the second largest party.  

In 1999 PC was closer in votes to Labour, the winner, than to the third place party.  In fact PC collected almost as many votes as the Conservatives and Lib Dems in 1999.   PC is now below 20% of the vote.

The rise of the Conservatives is an interesting change.   They are now the second largest party, but more importantly, they have reached 25% of the vote.   There is a potential that future elections will be Labour versus the Conservatives with PC voters voting Labour to stop Conservatives and some Liberal Democrats voting Conservative to stop Labour.

Scottish Parliament General Election
The Scottish National Party has managed to win a majority of the seats.   Given the Scottish electoral system, getting a majority is not an easy task.   56 of the MSPs are elected through party list systems in a form of proportional representation and this means you need a high percentage of the vote to possibly achieve a majority.

It will be interesting how a majority SNP government operates given that there primary goal is an independent Scotland.   They want to hold a referendum on independence.   I suspect that they will hold their referendum and then lose.   This will leave the SNP in the same situation the Parti Quebecois, Independence seeking parties in power but not having the mandate to move to independence.

Even more interesting will be if the Scots do vote for independence.   How will the Prime Minister in Westminster deal with this?   Do they dare say no?

The Scots seriously spanked the Liberal Democrats.  The Lib Dems lost 9 of their direct MSPs.   For years the highlands and islands have been strong Liberal territory.   This time around they were defeated in all of them other than the Shetland Islands and Orkney Islands.

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