With the UK just days away from going to the ballot box we take a look at what the polls are telling us, what scenarios could emerge and what deals have been ruled in and out should there need to be a coalition Government.
It looks like the UK election is shaping up to be a hot contest with a winner potentially not emerging for a fortnight after voters head to the polls this weekend. In the latest BBC poll tracker (2/5/15) the Conservative Party is sitting on 34%, Labour 33%, UKIP 14% and the Lib Dems 8%. The Greens, led by an expat Australian is currently sitting just on 5%. Even though the vote may appear to be high for UKIP it doesn’t mean that they are assured of winning seats in what is a First Past the Post (person with the highest number of votes wins) contest. In the current Parliament the Conservatives hold 302 seats in coalition with the Liberal Democrats 56 which just pushes Labour out with their 256. The SNP currently holds 6 seats while the Scottish National Party (SNP) is on just 6. However, the changes that we are likely to see are not so much about the UKIP winning seats, moreover the SNP picking up Scottish Labour held seats (a wash up of the Labour party decision to back the no vote for Scottish independence), the Liberal Democrats losing seats to both Labour and the Conservative Party and the UKIP holding onto its current seat number. UKIP is likely to be the difference in the vote count as they potentially draw voters away from the Conservative Party which could enable Labour to slip through by small margins in marginally held seats. It is not expected that the Greens will pick up electorate seats other than what they have and could even struggle to hold several of those.
This all leads to the potential of yet another coalition Government in the UK but it is becoming increasingly difficult, based on the polls, as to where the numbers will lie post the ballot. This leaves only three real options for the major parties:
A formal coalition – this is what happened after the last election where the Liberal Democrats ended up backing the Tory Government led by David Cameron. This was even though Cameron had told people that he didn’t believe Clegg had the ticker. In fact, after 2013, he called allegedly called Clegg and “idle f#@ker” It has surprised many that the coalition lasted but then again Clegg will be careful to have another go after many believe he traded the values of the party for a seat in cabinet.
Government based on confidence and supply – this is where a Government could form minority power and be reliant on the minor parties to enable the passage of supply bills as well as confidence motions. The first test would come on the floor of the Parliament post an election with the second being the passage of the Governments first budget. As Australians have experienced during the Gillard years it takes a different style of leader to manage the business of Government while in minority and the question will be if Cameron or Milliband have the ticker for it.
Vote by vote Government – the least likely option is a minority Government sitting vote by vote. The reason this is not the best option? Because each time a vote comes to the floor that is based on confidence around a policy or piece of legislation the Government risks losing.
So, what deals have been agreed to and what have been ruled out by all sides of politics? Take a look at this assessment from the BBC:
Conservatives: David Cameron has repeatedly said he wants a Conservative majority government after the election
Labour : Ed Miliband has ruled out a coalition or a confidence and supply deal with the SNP or Plaid Cymru. But a vote-by-vote arrangement appears to still be on the table; Labour's shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said on Friday that "of course" a Labour minority government would talk to other parties.
Senior Labour figures are considering the option of forming a minority coalition with the Liberal Democrats, the BBC has learned - giving them collectively more seats than the Conservatives. Officially, Labour says this is speculation and it is focusing on winning a majority. For their part, the Lib Dems say they will "seek to work in the national interest to provide stable government".
Liberal Democrats: The Lib Dems have based much of their election pitch on being in coalition after the election, saying they would be the Conservatives' heart and Labour's head. But Nick Clegg has ruled out any deal that would mean the SNP or UKIP holding the government "hostage"
SNP: Nicola Sturgeon has said her party will not put the Conservatives in power and has offered to do a deal with Ed Miliband on a number of occasions. She has also said she wants to work with the Greens and Plaid Cymru to build a "progressive alliance"
DUP: The DUP has said it is prepared to work with either the Conservatives or Labour after the election, but not in a formal coalition. It has also ruled out being part of a deal with a government that is "captive to a separatist party"
UKIP: Nigel Farage said earlier this year that his party won't enter a formal coalition. UKIP has said it will not deal with the Labour Party because of its opposition to a referendum on EU membership. But it is prepared to do a deal with the Conservatives and possibly support a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition if its guarantees a referendum on Europe, says Mr Farage
Plaid Cymru: Like the SNP, Plaid has ruled out any deal involving the Conservatives. But leader Leanne Wood has said a deal with Labour is possible
Greens: The Greens have said they won't enter into any formal coalition. The party has also ruled out doing anything that will put the Tories into power
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