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Friday, June 9, 2017

The UK Elections

The world got some bad news from British voters yesterday.  No party won a majority in the Parliament in yesterday's elections.  The Tory Party under prime minister May lost seats in a snap election held because the party's standing had risen so much in the polls.  Instead of getting a bigger majority, however, the party fell to just under 50% of the seats.  The prime minister says that she has formed a coalition with the Ulster unionists and is going to the Queen this afternoon to ask permission to form a new government.  With the coalition, May and her party will head a coalition with exactly the same number of seats that the Tories alone held in the last Parliament.

All this may sound like nothing much changed, but that is wrong.  The prime minister went from the leader of a majority government with strong ratings to one who only has coalition backing.  Her position in negotiations with the EU over Brexit has been weakened.  Even worse, the old discredited policies of the Labour party have nearly carried the day due to strong support from younger Brits who never really had to live under the malaise caused by those policies decades ago.  This result will inevitably strengthen sniping from the sidelines and weaken the resolve of the government for big moves needed in the country.

From a non-British perspective, the election results make it less likely that the UK will play a positive active role in world affairs.  The focus of the new government will surely be domestic matters.  That's bad.  The sane British voice has been extremely useful around the world in dealing with many problems.  It will be missed.

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