Pyramid Comment

This journal takes an alternative view on current affairs and other subjects. The approach is likely to be contentious and is arguably speculative. The content of any article is also a reminder of the status of those affairs at that date. All comments have been disabled. Any and all unsolicited or unauthorised links are absolutely disavowed.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Hung Parliament

Hung Parliament: what is it?

A hung parliament describes one where no party has an overall majority. No party has more than one-half of the MPs in the House of Commons and a government will not be able to win votes to pass laws without the support of members of other parties. It may appear more democratic to encourage debate, but such debates do not always progress well. Conflict can be used as a political tool to torpedo progress. At the next election (2010) the number of seats contested will increase from 646 to 650 as a result of boundary changes. Technically, an absolute majority would require one party to win 326 (just over 50% or one-half of 652 or 650/2+1) seats. If no party won that many seats there would be a hung parliament: no overall majority, but it's not quite that simple because the speaker and his deputies, although members of parliament, do not usually vote and may account for skewed %ages.

Parliament of the UK

Additionally, in the current parliament, Father of The House (Alan Williams) and five Sinn Fein MPs (Belfast West, Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Newry and Armagh, Tyrone West, Ulster Mid) who refuse to take the oath of allegiance to the Queen and 2 others are not entitled to vote. This reduces the number of seats to 638 (from 646).

In the 2001 election, Labour gained 413 of 638 seats (64.7%), but  with only 40.7% of votes. Tory gains were 166 seats (26%), but with 31.7% of the vote. The Lib Dems managed 52 seats (8.15%) with 18.3% of the popular vote. These figures changed in 2005 (5th May) to 356 (loss of 47 [ = 0 - 47] seats = 55.8% overall and a popular vote of 35.3%, a downward swing of -5.4% but with a boundary change), 198 (gain of 33 [ = 36 - 3] seats = 31% overall and a popular vote of 32.3%, an upward swing of +0.6%, but with a boundary change) and 62 (gain of 11 [ = 16 - 5] seats = 9.7%, and a popular vote of 22.1%, an upward swing of +3.7%, but with a boundary change), respectively.

356 (of 638) = 55.8% seats
198 (of 638) = 31% seats
62 (of 638) = 9.7% seats

This resulted in nearly a 25% seat majority (356 v 198), yet only an apparent 3% excess of the popular vote (35.3% - 32.3%).

High Turnout (2010)