The UK’s leading political parties are currently slogging it out over a nationwide referendum for a change in how the country votes, with its two governing political parties at each others’ throats.
The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are on opposite sides of the AV debate, a change in how the UK would hold elections that would likely result in more progressive majorities in parliament.
The vote is set for May 5, but no matter how the result plays out, the damage may have already been done.
Liberal Democrats expected their coalition partners, the Conservatives, to keep out of the debate. It was part of their deal for joining the government that they got a referendum on AV. Instead, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and George Osbourne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have campaigned against the change in voting. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called Cameron’s comments “lies.”
Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Chris Huhne says the Conservatives have misled the public and that it will be harder to make the coalition work after the vote.
Now key UK Conservative website Conservative Home is calling for Prime Minister Cameron to prepare for an early election.
All of this could spell doom for the austerity programs the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have put in place. Labour has made up significant ground in the polls since the general election that brought the Conservatives into government, and could win, particularly if AV is passed or the Liberal Democrats join in a coalition.
While the May 5 vote may not matter, its ability to fracture the coalition may be enough to change the course of austerity in the UL.