There is a 93% chance that the next general election in Britain will again result in a hung parliament requiring another coalition government, according to Election Forecast UK.
That’s because the three mainstream parties are shedding voters.
As Lord Andrew Cooper, founder of Populus and former Director of Strategy at No 10 Downing Street, told the British Election Study:
This Parliament has seen an unprecedented swing away from the established mainstream UK parties. With less than five months until the 2015 general election, the polls are suggesting that the sum of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat support, which accounted for 89% of votes cast at the last election, has dropped to around 72%.
To put that into context it would mean that, if the current polling is reflected in the result next May, more than 7 million voters will have switched their support over this Parliament to any one of a number of fringe parties. About 27 million people voted in the 2010 general election. These include the Scottish National Party (SNP), the UK Independence Party, the Greens and other smaller groups.
Here’s what that looks like in chart form (from Morgan Stanley):
Why has this happened?
We don’t have a comprehensive explanation yet. Lots of individual factors are in play: the Scottish independence referendum saw huge amounts of voters in Scotland shift their allegiance to the SNP; Liberal Democrat support has collapsed as people were disappointed by the party’s actions in the coalition with the Tories; and the rise of UKIP in the south of England.
But overall the trend tells us one thing clearly — there is a gradual, but marked, erosion of faith in the entire electoral system. This is evidenced, as Lord Cooper points out, by the fact that no party has won more than 36% of the national vote since 2001. If the major parties fail to win back support, the days of single-party majority governments are likely to be over — and with it the ability of the mainstream parties to control the political agenda.
As Morgan Stanley comments:
As a result of these factors, an unusually wide range of election outcomes look possible apart from what we see as the more likely outcomes of a Labour or Lab-Lib administration or a Conservative or Con-Lib administration. A number of more unusual combinations would be possible if the Commons is fairly evenly divided, including a government dependent on the sitting Northern Ireland MPs, a Con-UKIP administration or a Lab-SNP administration.
Or, to put that another way, the only government we can be confident of avoiding next May is a Grand Coalition of Labour and Conservatives. For all the others, the betting remains open.
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