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The 2010 UK general election - results and analysis

Added on May 28, 2010
The Tories have won the remaining 650th seat in the House of Commons. Anne McIntosh (Conservatives) won 20,167 votes, Howard Keal (Liberal Democrats) 8,886 votes and Jonathan Roberts (Labour) 5,169 votes in the constituency of Thirsk and Malton. The Tories now control 307 seats in the Commons.

Added on May 11, 2010 at 23:40 Swiss time
Gordon Brown has resigned. David Cameron has been appointed as Prime Minister. The Tory leader has been asked to form a new government and said he wanted to form a full and proper coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

Added on May 9, 2010 at 08:40
According to the Electoral Commission, 29,653,638 voters went to the polls. They represent 65.1% of all voters. In 2010, the voter turnout was 4% higher than in 2005.

Article added on May 7, 2010 at 19:00 Swiss time and updated on May 8, 2010 at 08:10  
With 649 of 650 constituencies declared, the official result of the 2010 UK general election of May 6 shows the following result: Conservatives 306 seats and 36.1% of the vote, Labour 258 seats and 29% of the vote, Liberal Democrats 57 seats and 23% of the vote, Democratic Unionists 8 seats, Scottish Nationalists 6 seats, Sinn Féin 5 seats, Plaid Cymru 3 seats, SDLP 3 seats, Green Party 1 seat (a first ever), others 4 seats.

The 2010 UK general election has produced the first hung parliament since 1974. Coalitions and compromise are part of any democratic system. The UK hysteria about
a “hung parliament” is laughable, although it goes against the “political culture” in the United Kingdom.

The electoral law with “the winner takes it all” aka “first past the post” constituencies favors the big parties. Votes do not translate into seats, which means that many voters don't get their say in parliament. In the 2005 UK general_election, Tony Blair and Labour only won 35.3% of the popular vote, but an absolute majority of 356 seats (some 55% of all seats).

The relative electoral winners in 2010 are David Cameron and the Tories. Compared with 2005, the Conservatives won 97 additional seats, but clearly fell short of their electoral goal, the necessary 326 seats needed to win an overall majority in the House of Commons (Lower House).

Gordon Brown's Labour Party is the clear loser of the 2010 election with 91 seats lost. The Liberal Democrats stagnated, despite Nick Clegg's relatively good performances in the first televised debates in UK history. In fact, compared with 2005 (62 seats), the Liberal Democrats even lost 5 seats!

Nick Clegg used clear words today, May 7, rightly snubbing the loser Gordon Brown who wants to cling to power, saying that
David Cameron was the winner (regarding both votes and seats) and, therefore, should get to opportunity to try to form the new government. Later in the afternoon, Cameron, after first talking about the possibility of a minority Conservative government, picked up Clegg's offer: “... I want to make a big, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats.”

Cameron defined urgent problems he wanted to solve together with the Liberal Democrats: the debt crisis, the social problems and the broken political system. Regarding the electoral system, Cameron was open to discussion, however mentioning that Conservatives and Liberal Democrats had different ideas. The Tory leader offered an all-party committee of inquiry on electoral reform.

Even in defeat, Gordon Brown (biography in German based on Tom Bower's book; Brown's cabinet) remains the dour Scot who cannot move on with grace.

Added on May 7, 2010 at 21:03 Swiss time
Tom Bower pointed out that, unlike Tony Blair, Gordon Brown never fully stood behind New Labour. He still believes in micromanagement from the top. Brown is a planner who sabotaged Blair's health care reforms (the introduction of more market elements).

Gordon Brown has always been a master when it comes to announcing new bold measures. His only bold reform however came at the beginning of his career in government when, in 1997, as chancellor (finance minister), he gave the Bank of England independence from political control, the freedom to control monetary policy without political interference.

As Chancellor for many years and then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown is co-responsible for the financial and economic disaster that struck the UK. As a member of New Labour, he did not continue the reforms commenced by the Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher, the only post-war leader in the UK who deservers the title of statesman (or, in that case: stateswoman).

Gordon Brown is an intellectually and rhetorically brilliant man with the wrong ideas. Social-Democracy is dead. The age of the welfare state as we have known it is over. In the UK, the candle was and is burning from both sides: both the welfare state and the financial system are out of control. The budget aka spending is out of control. Brown was a master in presenting misleading numbers.

Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, is a new face. But not all of his ideas are welcome in the UK. In 2004, he wrote a chapter in the famous Orange book, co-authored by the ones within the Liberal Democrats advocating more economic liberalism within the party, which is a social-democratic party like Labour. In 2009 however, Nick Clegg, by then leader of the Liberal Democrats, said that he hoped to make his party the “vanguard of the progressive centre left”. Where does he stand today?

Both Clegg (*January 1967) and Cameron (*October 1966) are 43, went to Oxbridge and are sons of aristocrats who made a lot of money in the financial world. Ideologically, they both try to represent the middle ground within their parties, but despite their ideological flexibility, their political ideas are pretty different.

Clegg favors radical electoral reform whereas
David Cameron wanted to preserve the “first past the post” system. As mentioned above, today, Cameron said that he was open to discussion.

The Liberal Democrats are ideologically closer to Labour. But Nick Clegg does not want to associate himself with a party that has lost public support. In order to work with Cameron, Clegg, representing the much smaller party, would have to make major concessions.

Nick Clegg is both in favor of free trade and a strong welfare state, although he co-wrote the Orange Book challenging the nanny-state. In his professional career, Clegg worked as European Union policy adviser and speechwriter for Leon Brittan, the Conservative EU Trade Commissioner, who championed free trade, e.g. the lifting of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers with the United States. Clegg was also a member of the European Parliament. All of this made him adopt a more pragmatic, even a Europhile approach when it comes to UK-EU relations.

In January 2009, although he realized that weaker Eurozone countries were especially vulnerable to the financial and economic crisis, Nick Clegg said that the UK should consider joining the Eurozone. Now that the euro is under attack and Greece is virtually bankrupt, this idea is less popular than ever in the UK, especially with David Cameron.

When it comes to immigration, Clegg favors an amnesty whereas Cameron is staunchly opposed to such an idea. The Tory leader wants to reduce immigration and advocates a cap on the number of new immigrants every year.

Cameron rightly points out to Labour's debt crisis, increased spending and waste. He is in favor of a culture of fiscal discipline, although he remained vague on specifics on where to cut public spending and/or how to increase state revenues. It will be tough to negotiate with Clegg and his social-democratic party.

Both Cameron and Clegg are fortune cookies with no executive experience. Despite their policy differences, an alliance between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats is the best - in fact: the only - solution for the UK right now. A minority Conservative government would quickly lead to new elections. Gordon Brown should retire and Labour profit from the fountain of youth called opposition. New elections, sooner or later, could clarify the situation.

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