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Political Parties / Elections in the United Kingdom.

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Presentation on theme: "Political Parties / Elections in the United Kingdom."— Presentation transcript:

1 Political Parties / Elections in the United Kingdom

2 2010 General Election: Hung Parliament/Coalition Government Conservatives: 306 seats (gain of 98 seats) ; 36.1% of vote Conservatives: 306 seats (gain of 98 seats) ; 36.1% of vote Labour: 258 seats (loss of 91 seats) ; 29.0% of vote Labour: 258 seats (loss of 91 seats) ; 29.0% of vote Liberal Democrats: 57 (loss of 5 seats); 23% of vote Liberal Democrats: 57 (loss of 5 seats); 23% of vote Other Parties: 28 seats (loss of 1 seat); 11.9% of vote Other Parties: 28 seats (loss of 1 seat); 11.9% of vote

3 Foundations of the Party System Two-plus system Two-plus system 2 dominant parties (Labour + Conservative) 2 dominant parties (Labour + Conservative) Party system reflects class identification (main social identifier in UK) Party system reflects class identification (main social identifier in UK) Also, ideological (Liberal Democrats) + Regional parties (Scottish National Party, Welsh Plaid Cymru) Also, ideological (Liberal Democrats) + Regional parties (Scottish National Party, Welsh Plaid Cymru) Labour + Conservative only won 65% of popular vote, but have 87% of seats in Commons Labour + Conservative only won 65% of popular vote, but have 87% of seats in Commons

4 Labour Party Largest/strongest party on the “left” of political spectrum Largest/strongest party on the “left” of political spectrum Traditionally labor unions have provided majority of funds for the party Traditionally labor unions have provided majority of funds for the party

5 Former Labour Leaders Gordon Brown + Tony Blair

6 Current Labour Leader: Ed Millibrand

7 Tony Blair’s “Third Way” Moderate “New Labour” Party Moderate “New Labour” Party Centrist alternative to “Old Labour” Party on left and Conservative Party on right Centrist alternative to “Old Labour” Party on left and Conservative Party on right Initiated by Blair in late 1990s: Initiated by Blair in late 1990s: –Acceptance of market economy by Labour Party –Devolution

8 Conservative Party (Tories) Dominant party in Great Britain between WWII and late 1990s Dominant party in Great Britain between WWII and late 1990s Main party on the right Main party on the right 98% of all Conservative seats are in England 98% of all Conservative seats are in England

9 Conservative Leader/Prime Minister: David Cameron

10 Thatcher’s Reforms (1980s) Privatized business and industry Privatized business and industry –Sold many government-owned enterprises to private sector Cut back on social welfare programs Cut back on social welfare programs Strengthened national defense (staunch anti-communist) Strengthened national defense (staunch anti-communist) Resisted complete integration into the European Union (EU) Resisted complete integration into the European Union (EU) –“Euroskeptics” – feel EU threatens British sovereignty –Rejected single currency (Euro)

11 Liberal-Democratic Party Alliance between the Liberal and Social Democratic Parties during the 1980s Alliance between the Liberal and Social Democratic Parties during the 1980s Supports social programs, integrated Europe (EU) Supports social programs, integrated Europe (EU) Currently part of coalition government with Conservatives Currently part of coalition government with Conservatives

12 Liberal Democratic Leader/Deputy PM: Nick Clegg

13 Other Parties Scottish National Party Scottish National Party Plaid Cymru – Welsh nationalist party (Wales) Plaid Cymru – Welsh nationalist party (Wales) Sinn Fein – political arm of the IRA (Irish Republican Army) Sinn Fein – political arm of the IRA (Irish Republican Army)

14 Elections Members of Parliament (MPs) are the only national officials that British voters select Members of Parliament (MPs) are the only national officials that British voters select Elections must be held at least every 5 years, but Prime Minister may call them earlier Elections must be held at least every 5 years, but Prime Minister may call them earlier Power to call elections very important – Prime Ministers always call elections when they think that the majority party has the best chance to win Power to call elections very important – Prime Ministers always call elections when they think that the majority party has the best chance to win

15 Elections II “Winner-take-all” system “Winner-take-all” system Single-member district plurality system Single-member district plurality system Parties select a candidate to run in each district Parties select a candidate to run in each district “First-past-the-post” winner “First-past-the-post” winner

16 Elections III MPs do not have to live in the district in which they are running, therefore party selects who runs in what districts = parties powerful MPs do not have to live in the district in which they are running, therefore party selects who runs in what districts = parties powerful Party leaders run from safe districts – districts that the party almost always wins Party leaders run from safe districts – districts that the party almost always wins

17 Effects of FPTP/WTA System

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19 Voting Patterns Conservative Party: Conservative Party: –Middle and upper classes –Educated –Residents of England, mostly rural and suburban areas Labour Party: Labour Party: –Working class –Residents of urban / industrial areas –“Third Way” centrist policies/devolution made Labour Party appealing to Scots, Welsh, and the poor

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21 U.S. vs. British Elections United States United States –Parties are less powerful –Members must live in districts –Party leaders run in their respective districts –Citizens vote for three officials on national level –Between 30 and 60% of the eligible voters actually vote –First-past-the-post, single- member districts; virtually no minor parties get representation Great Britain Great Britain –Party determines who runs where –Members usually don’t live in their districts –Party leaders run in “safe districts” –Citizens vote for only one official on the national level –About 65-75% of the eligible voters actually vote (number was less in 2001 & 2005) –First-past-the-post, single- member districts; some representation from minor parties, but still less than if they had proportional representation

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24 Conservative Party (Tories) Weakened by division of party in late 1990s: Weakened by division of party in late 1990s: –Traditional Wing – values noblesse oblige and elitism, supports Britain’s membership in EU –Thatcherite Wing – strict conservatives, support full free market “Euroskeptics” – feel EU threatens British sovereignty “Euroskeptics” – feel EU threatens British sovereignty


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