London, June 8: Around 50 million Britons will vote to elect a new government after three phases of campaign in UK general elections 2017. The general election in Britain assumes significance as it is happening after June 2016 European Union membership referendum when Britishers voted for Brexit. The contest is between Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party, popularly known as ‘Tories’, and the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn. Ahead of the polling, opinion poll suggested a narrow win for Conservative Party, adding that Theresa May’s denial to an open debate with Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn may dent party’s prospects across the Britain.
Why is there snap polls? On April 18, PM Theresa May shocked many when she called a snap election, three years early. Voters went to the polls in a 2015 general election and in July last year during the Brexit referendum. According to political analysts, the timing is perfect. Theresa May took the reins after her predecessor David Cameron resigned post Brexit referendum, however, a victory in general election will be a a personal mandate for her from voters. If the Tories register victory, as suggested by pollsters, May will increase her majority in Parliament and strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations with the EU.
UK electoral system:
Each of the 650 parliamentary constituencies will elect one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons, the lower house of Parliament. If one party obtains a majority of seats, then that party is entitled to form the government. A party needs at least 326 of the House of Commons’ 650 seats to form the government. If the election results in no single party having a majority, then there is a hung parliament. In this case, the options for forming the Government are either a minority government or a coalition government.
Who are the major contenders?
The fight is between Conservative Party’s Theresa May and Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn. The Conservatives currently hold 330 seats, while the Labour Party has 229 seats. On the last day of campaigning, Theresa May said she was the only person who could “deliver for Britain” and negotiate the right Brexit deal. In the wake of Manchester and London Bridge attacks, May promised to change human rights laws if they hamper a crackdown on terror suspects, by potentially seeking opt-outs from the European Convention on Human Rights.
Jeremy Corbyn, , a 68-year-old socialist who was elected Labour Party leader two years ago, said the NHS could not afford “five more years of underfunding, understaffing and privatisation”. A former trade union leader is known for frequently voting against the Labour whip, including when the party was in government under New Labour leaders Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Corbyn, a diehard leftie, is pro-refugee and believes that terror came to haunt UK after it played role in war against other countries.
Among smaller parties, the pro-independence Scottish National Party, pro-EU Liberal Democrats and UK Independence Party (UKIP) — instrumental in getting Britain to leave the EU — hope to strengthen their presence in the UK Parliament.
Who will win?
Initially, the Conservatives were as much as 20 points ahead in opinion polls, but Labour Party made significant upsurge later. Recent opinion polls still point to victory for Theresa May — but not necessarily the landslide she seeks. However, the latest forecast by University of East Anglia’s Chris Hanretty showed a huge majority for the Conservative Party. The forecast said, “Our current prediction is that there will be a majority for the Conservatives, who will have 371 seats.” Another forecast by The Telegraph also suggested the Conservative Party will win the elections with increased majority.
Voting will begin from 7 am until 10 pm. (11:30am IST to 2:30am IST on Friday) on Thursday, and results should be known in the early hours of Friday.