Saturday 28 March 2009

A constitutional pickle

An interesting post over at political betting raises a thought that has (oddly, because it is rather obvious) never occurred to me before. What would happen if this vote scenario played out? (caveat – it is based on a universal swing calculation, and one thing we know is that universal swing is becoming less and less useful to predicting political outcomes).


This would create two problems. First for the Liberal Democrats. As the post over at PB asks, who should they negotiate with first? They have a choice between Labour (the largest party in the Commons, and probably still their closest ideological bedfellows) and the Conservatives (who have won the popular vote and are led by Mr. Cameron – someone with whom the Lib Dems could probably do business).

But a second thought strikes me. I might be misremembering this, but in the event of no overall control it comes down to the Queen to ask a party leader to form a government. I think she essentially has a free choice about who to ask, but precedent dictates that she makes the offer first to the party with the most seats. So such a result might put the Head of State in a difficult position – would she go with the seat split spat out by the first past the post system, or break with established practice and ask the popular vote winner? It just goes to show how far into uncharted territory we are here.

[First published on my personal weblog]

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