WTF Is A Hung Parliament And What Happens Next?
Plus a handy TL;DR for the entire 2017 general election result so far.
Just when you thought nothing could surprise you more than Theresa May's revelation that the most daring thing she's ever done is frolic in a wheat field, along comes the result of the 2017 snap election to shake British politics right up.
Here's exactly why everyone's talking about the unexpected results today.
What even IS a hung parliament?
In a twist that no one was really expecting, the election has resulted in 318 seats going to the Conservatives (-12 on the last election), 261 seats to Labour (+31), 12 seats to the Liberal Democrats (+3) and 35 to the SNP (-19). This means that Tory party leader Theresa May doesn't have the landslide majority expected nor the majority of seats needed to form a government with the Conservatives alone.
You see, while they still have the most seats, a party needs 326 seats in the House of Commons to have enough of a majority to be able to use their party members to clearly and easily pass legislation, and so because of the outcome we have what is called a 'hung parliament', where no party can form a government on their own. In situations like these, two or more parties will usually join together to use their combined seats to form a governent together. This is called a coalition and last happened in the UK in 2010 when the Conservatives and Lib Dems formed a coalition with David Cameron as Prime Minister.
What happens next?
The ball is already rolling on this one and at the time of writing, it's looking like a coalition will be formed between the Conservatives and the DUP (that's the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland).
With 10 seats, the DUP have enough to help push the Conservatives into a majority of 328 seats total.
Following negotiations this morning, it is expected that Theresa May will visit Buckingham Palace at 12.30pm GMT to ask the Queen for permission to form a UK coalition government, despite her Commons minority. But whichever way you look at it, it's not exactly the 'strong and stable' government that was the Tory slogan for the election.
Why have things happened the way they have?
It's too early to say exactly how and why people have voted, but there are many factors that make this election unusual - a big part of that being the somewhat unexpected increase in support for Labour, who are up 31 seats on their 2015 general election result.
First up we have the B-word (Brexit, duh) and with such a close result between those wanting to leave and remain in the referendum last year, it is arguable that some are voting in response to that. There's also the way the different parties want to approach Brexit to consider, with many unhappy with the 'hard Brexit' approach of the Conservatives and possible preferring the 'softer' approach wanted by Labour.
Then there's voter turnout. At present it is thought to be as much as 69%, significantly higher than past elections and possibly as a result of the turbulent political events of the past few years. This means more peope who don't usually vote are having their say, and because they don't usually get out there on election day, pre-election polling wasn't able to include predictions about how they would vote. There is also the youth vote in particular to consider. It's currently being estimated that 72% of 18-24s voted - an unprecedented show of political engagement from the age group that is statistically and historically least likely to vote. It is this age group, as well, that are thought to be more likely to vote Labour than Conservative.
So what does this all mean for Theresa May, Brexit and beyond?
Essentially it looks like Theresa May will remain our Prime Minister but, having lost her majority government in the House of Commons, it will be very interesting to see how things play out. Ultimately this snap election was called to help increade legitimacy for May and her government, and was expected to result in a landslide victory. However, this has not been the case at all and has now left her government in a weaker position with Parliament, not only with less MPs but in that their governance will now also have to compromise internally with the DUP, with who the Conservatives will share government.
This has also been a significant coup for Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Labour, who has demonstrated a significant increase of support, particularly with young voters. This is also important for him personally following such division within his own party following his appointment as leader, and is expected to quiet a certain amount of internal dissent within Labour going forwards.
With May now lacking the strong majority she wanted to help negotiate Brexit with confidence - the entire reason the Conservatives called this election in the first place - there are many, many ways this could affect how things move forwards for the UK as we leave the EU. Ultimately the clock is ticking and with everything needing to be sorted for us to officially leave by March 2019, it's going to be interesting to watch. Almost every other party - including the DUP - have objected to May's plans for Brexit, so it may mean compromises the Conservatives were not expecting are going to have to be found to allow things to move forwards.
All we can really do rn now is watch this space, although it is worth considering that the media is already calling it a 'coalition of chaos'.
TL;DR - Fast facts to know about last night's election:
- A space lord called Lord Buckethead and a man dressed as Elmo ran against Theresa May in her seat of Maidenhead. Sadly Elmo only got three votes while Lord Buckethead got a grand 249.
- Lib Dem leader Tim Farron also ran (and won) against a fishfinger, because British politics everybody.
- Most surprising MPs to lose seats include Nick Clegg (former Lib Dem leader), Nicola Blackwood (health minister and author of the Conservative party manifesto) and Alex Salmond (SNP and former Scottish First Minister). Ukip leader Paul Nuttall also lost his seat and resigned as a result.
- Everyone is shocked but also not shocked because a) we're British and b) a similar thing happened last year with Brexit tbh:
- And if you need the entire election explained in a single line, this ought to do it: