The UK’s Hung Parliament

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I am traveling today — but wanted to note that the UK election yesterday is tracking with so many other elections in the world today like we recently saw in Iraq, and even in Afghanistan, not to mention the US presidential race in 2004. No definitive winner under the rules — or at least close elections.
I thought that this commentary, above, was as good as any other I have seen.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

28 comments on “The UK’s Hung Parliament

  1. WigWag says:

    More on phobia for Paul Norheim.
    I wonder, Paul, whether you saw the news reports of the riot that took place at Uppsala University in Sweden when cartoonist Lars Vicks tried to give a lecture on freedom of speech.
    Here’s a link to a report from Reuters if you are interested in taking a look,
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64A68220100511
    The cartoonist, who had drawn a cartoon depicting the Prophet in a disparaging manner was physically attacked by a mob of Muslims chanting “Allah is great” in Arabic
    The attack began after Vicks criticized the treatment of homosexuals in many Muslim nations (he actually tried to show a short film on the subject).
    As you may know, a recent Swedish newspaper article that suggested Israel might be harvesting Palestinian organs for transplant caused great consternation in Sweden’s tiny Jewish community.
    Not surprisingly, despite the fact that the article caused profound pain because it was so reminiscent of the “blood libel” that has plagued Jews for centuries, the author, Donald Bostrom (despite his claim that he has received anonymous death threats), hasn’t been attacked and he doesn’t need or get police protection. Unfortunately for Vicks, the same isn’t true for him. Why do you suppose it is, Paul, that despite the fact that Europe murdered virtually all its Jews, commentators can still make remarks that Jews consider extremely hurtful but still not fear being attacked while making remarks that Muslims find hurtful is likely to inspire an orgy of violence?
    If you would like to view the attack on Vicks, videos of the aftermath of the violence are widely available on “You Tube.”
    I think that “phobia” towards this type of behavior is entirely justified and while neither all nor even most Muslims engage in it; it has become commonplace. You can hardly blame Europeans who react with shock that many Muslims are now attempting to export the dysfunctional behavior endemic to their own societies into European society.
    It seems pretty apparent to me that all of this is partially responsible for the rightward shift in European politics and if there is any evidence that it will abate in the near future, I don’t know what that evidence is.
    While I don’t doubt that you personally deplore both the mob violence carried out by the particular Swedish Muslims involved with this incident as well as the rudeness of Vicks characterization of the Prophet, I do find your attitude about this somewhat curious. It is an attitude that is pervasive amongst people who flatter themselves by considering themselves progressive.
    Why is it that when it comes to the most despicable behavior perpetrated by the Islamic extremists that you are so willing to avert your eyes while you can’t help launching a verbal barrage against dispensationalist Protestants whose main crime is that they have a view of theology that you don’t think is enlightened?

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  2. Josh Greene says:

    Well Now today Gordon Brown stepped down, and within an hour the new prime minister was in place. Even in his new house, its amazing how easy and free of red tape the British government is when it comes to replacing a leader… I only hope the US can learn a little about streamlined process

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  3. Jerry says:

    Europe as a work in progress has passed the point of retreat. Each generation realizes its gain in the union and its growth. Unless you have lived there, ignorance will blind you to the intangibles that make the union so worth while to its citizens.

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  4. WigWag says:

    “This has historical roots – we were once ruled by K

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  5. Paul Norheim says:

    Well said, WigWag. I agree with most of it, but unfortunately, a
    majority of Norwegians don’t. Many on the left don’t agree, and
    neither do many fishermen and farmers living in small places near
    the coast. There is also a resentment against far-away Brussel,
    akin to the resentment against Washington in many parts of
    America. This has historical roots – we were once ruled by
    K

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  6. WigWag says:

    “Personally I am in favor of developing the European model…” (Paul Norheim)
    Good for you, Paul! It’s great that you favor developing the European model. Now maybe you can convince your friends and neighbors that it’s a good idea. Why don’t you tell them that now that the Danes, the Finns and the Swedes have all decided to join the European Union, it’s time for Norway to step up to the plate.
    Why exactly is it that Norway has decided not to join the EU? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the fear that Norway might have to share some of that tremendous oil wealth, would it? After all, does it sound right to you that only 4 million people should control some of the largest oil deposits on the planet? Shouldn

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  7. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag said on a thread above this one:
    “ps: The resignation of Deniz Baykal (the Turkish opposition
    leader) because of a sex scandal is the ultimate proof that
    Turkey doesn

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  8. WigWag says:

    “WigWag’s “analysis” is, as usual, at wide variance with the actual situation. I thought it might have something to do with Mead’s interpretation of events but it turns out Mead does write thoughtfully and only gets a few things wrong.” (Dirk)
    I partially agree with the WRM take on the situation in Europe but don’t agree with him completely. I do think that this pithy little comment from his blog is righ.t It’s from a blog post of his on May 3, 2010.
    “Then came the Treaty of Lisbon, the changes in European law that were adopted after voters rejected the EU

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  9. Dirk says:

    WigWag’s “analysis” is, as usual, at wide variance with the actual situation. I thought it might have something to do with Mead’s interpretation of events but it turns out Mead does write thoughtfully and only gets a few things wrong.
    The election in NRW state of Germany was a repudiation of the CDU/FDP coalition at both the state and Federal level. The FDP, in particular, wants to finance tax cuts with borrowing, which is highly unpopular, among other really stupid libertarian ideas.
    The CDU are mostly reasonably sane conservatives, at least Merkel is, whereas the FDP are, in my opinion, outright loons, much like US Republicans.
    The Greek bailout played a much smaller role in the election than thought. Although still unpopular, it is largely thought necessary to rescue the Euro. The SPD did not vote against it, but abstained from the vote
    In any case, the CDU has .1% more votes than the SPD, and it’s only alternatives to continue to govern are a coalition with the SPD or the Greens. Either way the FDP is out, and any coalition will entail major compromises at the state and federal level, all of which deal with repudiating FDP ideas.
    People have to realize, that the EU is still a trade union morphing into a confederation of states and while things have been thought out and codified, adjustments will probably be necessary along the way. These adjustments sometimes take a little time to make and because of that will sometimes cost more than if they were made in a timely manner. Greece was an issue, but there was immediate projection out to other countries and what a comprehensive solution should be.

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  10. JohnH says:

    True, Dan, but what’s interesting this time is that voters are choosing not to turn the government over to the discredited predecessor to the discredited government that they are sticking with the electoral bill. People are waking up to the fact that the lesser of two evils is still evil.

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  11. Dan Kervick says:

    Economic times are tough all around the world. Voters are likely to stick the electoral bill with whichever party happens to be seated at the head of the political table in their particular country.

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  12. JohnH says:

    So much for Wigwag’s theory that the world is turning to the right. “Merkel Coalition Routed in German State Voting…The Greens appeared poised to become kingmakers in any new coalition government. They were projected to win at least 12.5. percent of the vote, up from 6.2 percent five years ago.”
    The clear message here is that increasing numbers of people don’t like corrupt ruling parties, incumbent or past.
    Not promising for either Democraps or Republiscum.

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  13. WigWag says:

    So the result of the German regional election in North Rhine-Westphalia is in, and the result is reminiscent of the British elections; it’s pretty much a draw.
    The Christian Democrats and their coalition partners, the Free Democrats, won about the same number of votes as the Social Democrats and their coalition partners, the Greens. The Left probably has an edge because the hard left, former communist party won 5 percent of the vote. With their help the former opposition in North Rhine-Westphalia will turn into the majority.
    This is bad news for Merkel because it could well rob her of her majority in the upper house of the German Parliament.
    As bad as the news is for Merkel, the news is even worse for Europe. Given the closeness of the vote, it is obvious that the decisive factor was Merkel’s decision to bail out Greece. Voters clearly indicated that they vociferously rejected Merkel’s decision; had she refused to help Greece, her coalition probably would have won. Remember, just last week, in an extraordinarily cynical move, the SDP refused to support the Greek bailout in the Bundestag.
    This verdict makes one thing obvious, German voters don’t consider themselves Europeans, they consider themselves Germans. Merkel’s decision to bail out Greece made as much sense to the average North Rhine-Westphalia voter as if she had made the decision to bail out California.
    Germany and France are the glue that holds Europe together. If Cameron becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain (he and his party are notoriously suspicious of greater European integration) and German enthusiasm for the European enterprise dims, who exactly is supposed to hold Europe together? The Italians? The Irish? The Portuguese? The Spanish?
    A few months ago, Steve Clemons wrote a post praising the head of the Free Democrats, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. The Foreign Minister was clear about what steps his coalition needed to take,
    “We must make an effort to win back lost trust with hard and good work.”
    The meaning of this quote is clear to every German; Merkel and company need to spend more time fixing Germany and less time worrying about fixing Europe.
    Clearly European monetary integration is in jeopardy but unbelievably it looks like the future of a united Europe is in doubt. The idea that citizens of the various European states see themselves as Europeans first and members of their individual states second, has proven to be inaccurate. European irrelevance and even decline may just be inevitable. Does anyone still think the Chinese will be diversifying their currency reserves by buying more Euros?
    The other thing I wonder about is what the British and German elections say about the future of the dimwitted and clueless, European Foreign Minister, Baroness Ashton of Upholland. After all, she was nothing but a hack from the Labor Party when she was chosen for the job; I wonder how much support she’ll have from David Cameron if he assumes the Prime Minister’s Office.
    Of course bestowing a “Lordship” on Ashton (which the Queen did at the insistence of Tony Blair) makes about as much sense as bestowing a “Lordship” on Steve Clemons. Actually, I think the concept of a “Lord Clemons of the Eastern Shore” makes more sense than a Lordship for Ashton who clearly doesn’t know which way up is.
    But perhaps it doesn’t matter who the Foreign Minister of Europe is; after all, the concept of a united Europe looks more like an anachronism every day.

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  14. JohnH says:

    “the winds of change,paving a way forward toward forming the space for multilateral politics trends in Britain?”
    If Britain can finally vote out the corrupt, two party duopoly, maybe there’s hope for America, too.

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  15. chumanist says:

    The apparently seeming “Hung Parliament” does have reflections on the winds of change,paving a way forward toward forming the space for multilateral politics trends in Britain.

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  16. Thomas L.Sjovall says:

    All of this is UK.history in the making?
    Something like this has not happend since 1974.
    I am a center left man, but I think the Tory’s have the right to run goverment.

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  17. Mr.Murder says:

    OT: Off Topic, so take your tops off(we tip well).
    WASHINGTON

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  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    PERMISSION TO EXCERPT OR REPRINT GRANTED, WITH LINK TO http://www.blackboxvoting.org
    * * * * *
    Does the US want a back door into other nation’s elections?
    Someone had to say it. So I will.
    The United States has been cheerleading the concept of concealed vote counting round the world in a most unhealthy way, unless it is sham democracy we are really after.
    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before congress in glowing terms regarding India’s e-voting system,[1] yet these opaque electronic voting machines conceal key election processes from the public, putting control into the hands of government insiders — hardly democratic, and in India’s corruption-prone environment, downright dangerous.
    Despite Clinton’s earlier assurances, Indian e-voting machines have recently succumbed to manipulation by a team of researchers. Here’s what one of them had to say about India’s e-voting system:
    continues……..

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  19. WigWag says:

    “It is possible that some of the things that Nick
    Clegg believes made an unfavorable last-minute impression with some voters…” (David Billington)
    I’ve actually wondered about this. I’m not British so I have no insight into this at all, but it would be interesting to hear from British Washington Note readers what they thought.
    My speculation is that perhaps the fact that Nick Clegg and the Liberal-Democrats are so much more pro-Europe than the other parties are, might account for Clegg’s poor showing. After all, Europe is imploding so it is possible that voters decided that a political party that famously supports greater integration with Europe is not their cup of tea at the moment.
    My understanding is that the Tories are notorious for their disdain for Europe, while Labor was more willing to accommodate Europe but not anxious to go out of its way to facilitate greater British integration into the EU. Unless I’m mistaken, it was Clegg and colleagues who demonstrated particular enthusiasm for the European enterprise. If this is true, the Greek crisis and the seeming collapse of European unity couldn’t have come at a worse time for Clegg.
    Anyway, it’s just a theory; I would be grateful if anyone more knowledgable than I am could comment on whether or not it makes any sense.

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  20. samuelburke says:

    what’s in the best interest of the english people?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzhb3U2cONs

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  21. Mr.Murder says:

    How fortunate that a failed Times Square bombing helped spike news headlines on election week. Seems like it helps influence vote trends….

    Reply

  22. jon says:

    It’s a parliamentary system, rather obviously, and doesn’t require a
    majority victor in order to form a government. Liberal Dems will be
    invited into a coalition with the Tories and have a solid majority.
    Labor might also build a coalition with the LD’s and some of the
    smaller parties and also achieve a majority.
    But any way you slice it, the Liberal Democrats underperformed
    expectations.

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  23. WigWag says:

    “The last time there were back-to-back elections, in 1974, the electorate strengthened the previous
    winner of the largest number of seats, which would point to a Conservative majority next time” (David Billington)
    David, there is precedence for your theory provided by the recent Canadian elections. Prime Minister Harper led a minority government and during last year’s election, despite the expectation of Canada’s more progressive parties that they would do well, Harper actually increased the number of seats held by the Conservatives even though they still failed to achieve a majority.
    Despite the fact that he heads a minority government, Harper’s control over Parliament has been surprisingly secure. Even after last year’s fight about the budget, the Liberals and the NDP have proven unable to work together and of course neither party wants to affiliate with the PQ.
    The Canadian example is only one of several. Other nations including Israel and Italy have had supposedly weak governments that have proven to be remarkably stable. In Israel, the Prime Minister represents a political party that received fewer votes than his major opponent’s political party; the winner of the largest number of seats is now in the opposition. In Italy, Berlusconi’s coalition is remarkably frail and weak in number; yet despite all of his personal foibles, Berlusconi survives.
    All of this suggests the possibility at least that a government led by David Cameron might be more durable than is commonly believed. Will Labor really want to call a confidence vote during the next 18-24 months knowing that the number of seats they hold is as likely to go down as up?
    Will the Liberal Democrats be anxious for new elections so soon after suffering such an embarrassing and unexpected trouncing?
    With all the issues afflicting the United Kingdom right now, do voters really want the next election to be fought over the issue of election reform?
    All of this seems rather doubtful to me, but then again, I’m not British.
    I do have a sneaking suspicion though, that if he actually becomes Prime Minister, Cameron could be in power quite a bit longer than many people believe.

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  24. David Billington says:

    Wigwag – I’m not sure how much to read into recent European
    elections. Shifts from center-left to center-right and back again
    have happened before. The British results are a turn to the
    center-right but I wonder if we shouldn’t wait until the next
    election, likely to occur sooner than later, before perceiving a
    decisive shift.
    In the recent UK election, the Conservatives fell short of a
    working majority. Labour more predictably reflected national
    exhaustion after thirteen years in office. The surprise was the
    dip in Liberal Democratic seats that were still expected to
    increase under the present electoral system despite its
    structural bias. It is possible that some of the things that Nick
    Clegg believes made an unfavorable last-minute impression with
    some voters, but my guess is that more British voters were
    simply reluctant to abandon the familiar for the new.
    The Liberal Democrats have rebuilt their support from single
    digits (when they were the Liberal party) forty years ago to a bit
    more than twenty percent today, mainly on the strength of
    competent service in local elected bodies. This kind of
    experience has built trust with voters and could build more in
    the future if the Conservatives go through with their plans to
    devolve more power to local government.
    Given the recent results, a Liberal Democratic deal right now
    with either party on electoral reform may not go over well.
    However, there will almost certainly be another election in six to
    eighteen months. The last time there were back-to-back
    elections, in 1974, the electorate strengthened the previous
    winner of the largest number of seats, which would point to a
    Conservative majority next time. But the Liberal Democrats
    might make a deal with Labour to fight the next election in part
    on the issue of electoral reform, by agreeing to support Labour
    candidates tactically as they did in 1997, 2001, and 2005 (but
    not in 2010). If the result is a return of Labour to power, then a
    reform of the electoral system would have more of a real
    mandate.

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  25. WigWag says:

    And speaking of elections that are likely to be close, it should be great fun to watch the results of the elections in North Rhine-Westphalia this weekend.
    Almost all the members of Merkel’s conservative coalition of the CDU, CSU and Free Democrats voted in the Bundestag today to support the German bailout of Greece. In a move that is politically understandable but preternaturally cynical, most members of the Social Democratic opposition abstained.
    Does anyone believe that had the Social Democrats been in power that they wouldn’t have supported the Greek bailout? Of course they would have; with even less restrictions than Merkel insisted on. To their infinite credit, the Greens decided to do the honorable thing and vote “J

    Reply

  26. rayy says:

    You should not discount the fact that a lot of
    Britons are still angry at Labour over their support
    of the war in Iraq. Plus, Gordon Brown is not
    exactly a mesmerizing individual. A person doesn’t
    vote for the party totally independent of the
    individual.

    Reply

  27. JohnH says:

    The message of the UK election is that the electorate doesn’t particularly like either Labor or the Conservatives. Kind of like the United States?
    Yet Wigwag wonders why the Liberal Democrats did so poorly. The answer is gerrymandering–a system rigged to keep two discredited parties in power. the Liberal Democrats got 23% of the vote but only 9% of the seats. Meanwhile Labor did just a little better in the vote (29%), but came away with 40% of the seats.
    Far from being a democracy, the UK is a glaring example of a dysfunctional system designed to maintain the privileges of those in power.

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  28. WigWag says:

    “I am traveling today — but wanted to note that the UK election yesterday is tracking with so many other elections in the world today like we recently saw in Iraq, and even in Afghanistan, not to mention the US presidential race in 2004. No definitive winner under the rules — or at least close elections.” (Steve Clemons)
    Mr. Clemons you are a brave man traveling with stomach flu; I salute your perseverance.
    On the UK elections, it is true that the less than decisive results resembles recent elections in many other nations but there is another glaring lesson from yesterday’s results; once again a European nation took a significant turn to the right.
    If, as expected, Cameron becomes the next Prime Minister, every single major nation in Europe will be governed by the center-right. Cameron will join Merkel, Sarkozy and Berlusconi as Chiefs of State who were elected because voters decided to voice their disgust with politicians of the left.
    Cameron’s election confirms the results of last year’s elections to the European Parliament and it recapitulates significant moves to the political right in Scandinavia. The upcoming Dutch elections are likely to confirm the trend as well.
    The only glimmer of hope for the left in Europe is the possibility that Merkel’s decision to support the aid package to the Greeks might enhance the prospects of the social democratic parties in the upcoming local elections in North Rhine-Westphalia. But it’s also possible that her decision will be as much a boon to the far right parties as it is to center-left politicians.
    What I found particularly interesting about the British elections was how poorly the Liberal-Democrats did. I’ve read that they may have actually lost seats which is a real black eye for them considering all the hype around Nick Clegg. While Clegg’s domestic policies may have been somewhat to the right of Labor’s, his foreign policy was significantly to the left of both Labor and the Tories. His poor showing suggests that the British public eschews Liberal-Democratic policy prescriptions.
    Those who regret Europe’s turn to the right better get used to it; my guess is that we haven’t seen anything yet.
    The increasing hostility toward Muslim immigrants is only likely to spread throughout Europe pulling the continent even further to the right. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see the recent demonstrations in Greece organized by leftist labor unions lead to a collapse of the PASOK Government and ultimately result in the election of a revanchist government steeped in conservative Orthodox nationalism.
    The Europe that we have come to know since the end of World War II is dying and for better or worse, a new Europe is being born.

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