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UK Election: What is going on?

Last Thursday, June 8th, the United Kingdom held their general election. This vote came three years earlier than planned as Prime Minister, Theresa May, called for it in an attempt increase her majority and “strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations”, fearful that minority parties would complicated things in Parliament.

“I’m probably going to vote Conservative because they are the lesser of two evils.” Wesley, a 42-year-old shop owner said. “This election is going to make Brexit dealings more complicated but I think it’s better for May to have screwed up now than in two or three years when the regular election is.”

Election day in Westminster was one of excitement and suspense. News crews were stationed everywhere around Parliament while the white signs of polling stations could be spotted throughout the whole city. While May, current Prime Minister and Conservative Party (or “Tory”) leader was favored to win her majority with ease, in the days leading up to voting, her lead shrunk exponentially. Suddenly, Labour leader and favorite among young voters, Jeremy Corbyn, had a chance.  One exit poll for NME showed voter turnout for 18-24 year olds at 53% and two-thirds of them voted Labour (according to Channel 4).

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“Young people are fed up with the austerity of the Conservative party and, especially people in London, are disillusioned with Theresa May,” Lauren, a 21 year old native Londoner said. “The mainstream media really vilified Corbyn but the young people really questioned that and made up their own minds.”

The election continued late into the night with the final unofficial results from Thursday showing that the Tories would not gain enough seats (326) to clench a majority, resulting in a “Hung Parliament”. (In order to claim the seat of Prime Minister, their party must gain a solid majority of seats in the House of Commons. The Tories only have 318 after Thursday’s election.)

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What this means is that in order to maintain Conservative control of the government, block Corbyn and Labour’s influence, and to protect May’s position as PM, the Tories must join forces with another party, in this case the Democratic Unionist Party, and form a new integrated government. May met with the Queen Friday to discuss this and other things resulting from the election.

“This election really wasn’t as unpredictable as people made it seem but then again, I study politics,” Ivan, a 35-year-old politics student said. “May is probably the most uncharismatic party leader ever, she makes David Cameron look like a beloved PM. Some good things did come out of the election though, like the collapse of UKIP and the push of the Scottish Referendum.”

So what now? It is a little unclear of what is actually going to happen as the different parties are all still pushing their agendas. May claims she will form her new government with DUP help while Corbyn claims he still has a shot at Prime Minister. Others are hoping for May’s resignation which would forced Conservatives to a elect someone new and others still are holding their breath for a possible second “snap” election. All will become clear in the next few weeks but until then, the future of Brexit and the UK government is anyone’s guess.

Yours Politely, Natalie

 

*None of my interviewees were comfortable with having their picture taken.*

Where to find more UK Election 2017 information:

BBC: Hung Parliament: Q&A guide to what happens when no-one wins the election

BBC: Election 2017: What you want to know about the result

Channel 4: The General Election in 5 Graphs

 

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