It's decision time. Millions of voters are now heading to the polls in the UK to cast their vote. Many of us expats have probably missed out on voting because the postal vote system doesn't allow enough time to register and then get our vote off from the other side of the world. It's been an interesting few weeks in the election campaign and tomorrow could be even more interesting. In fact it could be chaos if it's a hung parliament as the polls suggest.
Since I'm too young to remember the last hung parliament in Britain it's interesting to see the process and the various scenarios that may play out.
A Well-Hung Parliament
If it's a hung parliament the ball is in Gordon Brown's court. He could choose to stay on as PM and try and form a minority government. That looks unlikely to happen though based on what Nick Clegg has been saying. Nick Clegg has indicated that he would support the party with the biggest mandate, and as he's in favour of proportional representation you could guess that he means the party with the most number of votes, not necessarily seats. So surely that means he would support the Conservatives if the election turns out as the polls predict.
It may of course be likely that the Conservatives get the largest share of the votes and the largest number of seats, but not enough seats to get a majority. In this case surely GB would step down and the Queen would invite David Cameron to become PM? The problem will then arise when the Conservatives want to push through their legislative programme in the Queen's Speech. If they don't have a working majority of votes to pass the legislation they could get a vote of no-confidence from the other parties, in which case we may be looking at another election.
The magic number is 326 seats. However in reality the Conservatives could get a working majority with 310 seats if there are a number of Independents, and Sinn Fein have stated that they won't take their seats. Plus the DUP is expected to join the Conservatives in a coalition if required.
The Ups and Downs of an Election Campaign
The election campaign has been fascinating to follow. I'm one of those geeks who likes to read the manifestos and watch each of the leadership debates (which only re-affirmed my previous choice of party).
The overall story of the election campaign is surely the demise of Labour. They must be due for a good kicking in the election? Bigot-gate was a funny development but I don't think it's made that much difference to the polls.
The first television debate was certainly a tipping point in the election. Who would have thought before then that the Lib Dems would poll as high as Labour? Nick Clegg certainly did well to cast his party as a complete alternative to the two 'old' parties. It looks like many people were convinced. It seems many are less convinced now they've delved into the Lib Dem policies!
The polls from the third leadership debate gave it to Cameron but I wasn't so sure. I was left disappointed by his failure to answer some of the questions, which is a strategy usually more akin to GB than DC. It must have been a tactical decision to avoid direct questions from GB as I knew he had answers. I've heard him directly answer the questions in other QA's about regional development agencies and child tax credit, etc, and give a good rationale to the policy decisions, so I couldn't understand why he avoided directly tackling the accusations from GB.
The online YouTube/Facebook debate gave Nick Clegg a clear win. Not surprising really, the demographic of facebook and youtube was always going to be more advantageous to the Liberal Democrats. They're the rebel party; the party of ideals. I'm all for idealisms but sometimes you have to mix that with a little pragmatism as well. Proportional Representation (PR) is a good example of why pragmatism should sometimes come ahead of ideals.
It's the ultimate democratic method of voting, but paradoxically leads to the most undemocratic governments. Countries with PR tend to go through governments like Manchester City goes through managers. Coalition governments are the order of the day which invariably means deals done behind closed doors and no strong policy decisions.
I think David Cameron has the best idea. Keep the first past the post system so that the link between MPs and constituencies is maintained, but change the size of the constituencies so that all constituencies have an equal proportion of the overall vote. That way the proportion of seats will equal the proportion of the vote, and there wouldn't be the situation we have today where Labour could get less votes but still have a majority of seats.
The polls close at 7am tomorrow our time so I'll be up early on my day off watching with interest,and hope of a new team in charge.