Is Britain moving to a phase of uncertainty?

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While the question "who would be king?' may be top most on everybody's mind, a more sober observation would be "regardless of who would be the king, is the nation heading for some uncertain times?" The people's mandate as things stand seems to indicate a prospect that would make most of us shudder - "A Hung parliament". The fact that no party could muster up the minimum number of seats to form the government on its own is a sad reflection of the people's disenchantment with all of them in general.If the fall of Labour heavy weights like Jacqui Smith and others reflect the people's rejection of the ruling party, the incumbency effect notwithstanding, the fact remains that Labour's loss has not been Conservative's gain and David Cameron has not been able to cash in fully on what is being perceived as a popular rejection of the Labour party. The Liberal Democrat party's position as a poor third comes as no surprise to election watchers, while its marginal gains seem to indicate some popular endorsement to Nick Clegg's right wing policies especially with regards to immigration, he has not been able to upset the apple cart or come as the surprise black horse as he had been projecting himself to be. The Liberal Democrats with hardly a fourth of the votes polled by the other contestants have a long way to go to become a force to reckon with in British politics. Nevertheless Nick Clegg would be the man to watch for the next week or so as the drama unfolds, the present political imbroglio having catapulted him as the make or break man.

Let us see what is in store for the nation if none of the parties secure an absolute majority which seems to be the ominous thing. The British constitution and conventions give the benefit of doubt to the incumbent in the event of an indecisive mandate resulting in a hung parliament. In the current scenario it would mean that Gordon Brown would be given the first chance to form the government and only if he concedes his inability to do so will the chance move over to David Cameron. While this may be in keeping with the constitution and conventions, it would be missing the popular mood which is a "writing on the wall". The reasoning is simple the voter's rejection of the Labour party is more evident and palpable than what could be argued as his lukewarm response to the Conservatives, the incumbency effect has apparently not had a bearing on the elections and has not given a positive swing to the ruling party. Even if one ignores the trend and goes by sheer numbers the Conservative party has won 41 seats more than the Labour party, elections after all are a game of numbers and 41 is not an insignificant number after all.

It would be in the best interest of democratic tradition if Mr Brown steps down gracefully accepting the massive rejection from the electorate and gives David Cameron a chance to form the government. Ironically Nick Clegg's Liberal Democratic Party will be wooed by both the suitors and be able to flex its lean muscle in view of both contestants needing its strategic support.

With the prospect of a hung parliament and its natural concomitant a coalition government on the cards, the disturbing question that comes to the mind is "Is Britain going the way of Italy?" Italy has traditionally been ruled by coalition governments made of an assortment of parties which has apparently not done it any good. Coalition politics reveals a politician's desperation to survive and remain in power, even if it means having to compromise on ideology and principles. In the absence of the minimum numbers in the House it becomes a daunting task to pass laws, get the consent for any new step etc. To make matters worse there is always the fear of a junior partner pulling the carpet from under the feet which gives the feel of skating on thin ice and when survival is at stake governance naturally takes the back seat - Not a welcome prospect, given the turbulent times the country is already undergoing.

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