The 2015 Election: What will our next Government look like?
With almost 3 weeks to go until the General Election in May, it has been said to be one of the most unpredictable elections in 70 years. With more media coverage than ever, there is much uncertainty as to who will be governing the country for the next 5 years. However with no clear winner in running, and the improbability of a majority government forming, the result is very much up in the air.
After 5 years of the Conservatives in power, one would assume that their unpopularity is subject to general consensus however opinion polls are showing otherwise. The Conservatives are deemed out of touch, a party for businessmen and the rich as the Telegraph reminded us a couple of weeks ago with their 100 signatures of support from business people. They’ve alienated women in particular recently considering news of the ‘tampon tax’, with such necessities being classed in the same category as crocodile meat as a ‘luxury’. Whilst much is being done to encourage younger people to vote, the truth is that a proportion of the population will not vote which will most likely work in the Tories favour in detracting votes from Labour.
It is unlikely that the election will result in a majority as either the Tories or Labour will have to gain 90 seats more than the other which polls are showing that this seems improbable. Additionally Labours poll average has decreased from 37 percent to 33 percent over the past few months. With Ed Miliband’s suitability as a leader being questioned, it is uncertain as to whether they will gain the seats they need for a majority.
In consideration of whether the current coalition will continue, Peter Kellner, chairman of YouGuv, claims that the power of the Tories and Lib Dems should not be underestimated. He predicts Cameron will have a five point lead over Labour giving them 300 seats and that the Lib Dems will secure 10% of the vote and 30 seats. Thus another Tory and Lib Dem coalition is not off the cards.
The sharp rise and fall of interest in minority parties is likely to play an important role in shaping the outcome, especially due to the increased coverage of UKIP, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens as demonstrated in the ITV Leaders Debate and in the media.
However, the rise of UKIP could come to a halt or continue, depending on their popularity. Whilst their chance of getting into government seems slim due to the system being discriminative against minority parties, polls suggest that if they gain 14% of the vote they will win 2 seats. However 20% would win them 8 seats, 24% would gain them a staggering 46 seats and 28% would place them as second party. For this to be achievable they will have to target swing seats, and it seems they have cottoned on to this claiming they will target “a significantly larger number of constituencies, including many in what have previously been regarded as safe Conservative and Labour heartlands”. Polls by the Guardian predict that 5 seats are likely to go to UKIP and another 25 that are Tory strongholds and some key marginal Labour seats are at risk. In the situation of a coalition, UKIP wants referendum on our membership of the EU, which the Tories may be able to provide. Although Cameron has long said he would not form a coalition with UKIP, if they have enough seats to allow him to be Prime Minister again, will he comply?
As for the Greens, Natalie Bennett was deemed to have performed poorly in the first Leader’s Debate, but the policies of the Greens have attracted a younger category of voters, especially since she announced that the Greens plan to abolish tuition fees, which is great news for students, but the actual logistics of how this would be achieved, along with some of their other policies, have been questioned. However, the Green’s policies on the environment is what arguably makes them the most appealing, considering politics would in itself be irrelevant if our disrespect for our planet began to form consequences. Thus a possible Labour and Green coalition could well be on the cards.
For the Lib Dems to be viable for another two-party coalition, their number of MPs has to exceed the total of the other minority parties, like they did in 2010, winning double the combined total of Green, nationalist and Northern Ireland parties. However if they do not manage this, the formation of a coalition is complicated, and may lead to a three-party coalition.
What the Labour party, the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru all have in common is an aversion against another Tory government on the basis of their refusal to end cuts, involvement in Trident and support for society’s richest members.
Therefore, another possibility is for Labour to join up with either the SNP, the Greens or Plaid Cymru, as all parties have sworn off joining a coalition with the Tories. Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru wants to rebalance wealth, end austerity, invest in job creation, and mainly wants to end the current Tory government with their ideological cuts and thus is willing to form a coalition with Labour.
Additionally, there has been speculation of a Labour and SNP coalition. Nicola Sturgeon claimed in the last debate that the SNP would never form a coalition with the Tories but wants to challenge Ed Miliband to make progressive change. However Miliband is sceptical as he doesn’t want to break up country as he revealed that Nicola Sturgeon wants another referendum and is thus against forming a coalition with them. Sturgeon challenged this with the notion that they should unite for the greater good, which is to get rid of the current Tory government. Indeed, Labour may not be able to form a government without the seats of the SNP, which leads to a difficult situation of Ed Miliband.
Overall, there are several outcomes for May the 7th, whilst another coalition is definitely probable, whether we will have another Tory and Lib Dem coalition, a Labour coalition with the SNP, the Greens, Plaid Cyrmu or the Lib Dems, or even a three party coalition is dependent on the success of these minority parties in key seats.