Monday, May 10, 2010

A Hung Paliament and a Progressive Opposition

The British had their General Elections on May 06, 2010 and ended up with a hung paliament. Of the 649 constituencies contested, the results were Conservatives (Tories) 306, Labour 258, Liberal-Democrats (Lib-Dem) 57 and Others (smaller parties) 28.

Labour is the government of the day and the Tories were in the opposition before the elections.

It is clear then that Labour has not secured the highest number of seats. They were not readily able to form the government on their own. The Tories on the other hand at 306 is short by 20 for a simple majority. They also cannot claim to be able to wrest power unless they get the support of the Lib-Dem on their side.

It is truly therefore a hung paliament with neither side able to form a government!

This then left the Lib-Dem in a very enviable position of a king-maker. They can exploit the situation to the fullest and negotiate to their advantage because both the Tories and Labour would be wooing for their support.

A hung parliament had happened before. In all instances (1910, 1923, 1929 and 1974 ) apparently the tendency was towards a minority government and not a coalition but it had not been easy.

As expected the Lib-Dem are pinning their hopes with the Tories. The Lib-Dem leader had said that the Tories, as the biggest party, had the right to seek to form a government first.

The Tories and Lib-Dem negotiation teams were scheduled to meet yesterday, Sunday, May 09, 2010 followed by a meeting of the Tories MPs at 1800 BST on Monday, today.

The discussions would centre on points of agreements and disagreements in their respective manifestoes.

For the Tories and the Lib-Dem, there are agreements on matters relating to, Education, Environment,Civil Liberties and Tax. Points of disagreements were relating to the Economy,Defence,Immigration,the European Union and Electroral Reforms.

At this point, we need not go into details on these matters. These are domestic issues relevant to the British people. We’ll just leave it at that.

But what can we learn from this electoral process being played before our eyes .What may be of relevance to our current political situation. Are there similarities to post GE12? Let us see!

1.Manifestoes ( Britain) : All the British contenders have their respective manifestoes. They touch on national issues, they are elaborate, tested through time (they have been around) and complete with shadow cabinets.
Manifestoes (Malaysia) : Basically a similar situation (that we have been told) but may have not been tested through time for certain parties.
2.Reaction ( Britain) : Labour may not pull through. It was expected. Gordon Brown, the PM had to carry baggage inherited from Blair.
Reaction (Malaysia) :
a) . Shock! (for the BN government) It was a disaster. The exact opposite to Tun Abdullah’s 2004 triumphant showing.
b). Bigger shock! (for the opposition) The opposition won 5 states and they were bewildered, loss for words and aimless for months on end.
3.Governance ( Britain) : Cool and collected. The Lib-Dem went about to help resolve the stalemate. They appeared to be a responsible and a progressive opposition.
Governance ( Malaysia) : The BN became defensive, while the opposition changed the political climate to one never seen before, bordering on political immaturity (novices in governing) , lese majeste (Perak ex-MB’s ‘ mohon derhaka’), hooliganism ( Perak Assembly) and mass walkouts (Paliament and Perak Assembly) We have not even touched on corruption ( within just months ) which triggered off the downfall of the PAS-led government in Perak and started investigations culminating in the Teoh Beng Hock’s case in Selangor.

What is then the current situation. How has it been going?

For PM Najib and the BN it has been a turn for the better especially upon reaching the one year tenure of office recently. President Obama lauded his contributions that of a moderate Muslim state. Japan accorded its Emperor’s endorsement.

Back home PM Najib’s ratings had sky rocketed , and Ulu Selangor is safely in hand (attributed directly upon his presence on the ground in the closing stages of campaigning) Sibu due to the polls will be the coup de grace in favour of PM Najib.

What about the opposition? Lately it had never been good. Still smarting from the loss of Perak state, the loss of so many legislators ( especially MPs), loss of legal battles to delay the process of law on sodomy 2, the loss of the last two by-elections, loss all the way.

With the euphoria of winning in GE12 they came up with slogans in Penang, ‘competency, accountability and transparency ( CAT ) It remained a slogan and in one stroke Kg Buah Pala put paid to it being heard again.

Penang needs to revamp their CAT to bring it back into contention. They have to be magnanimous, orderly, understanding, service-oriented and have empathy (mouse)

Penang can then liase with other PKR states to exchange notes but then, Perak had been sent into oblivion, Kedah is teetering for survival (another Perak in the making) , Kelantan is an untouchable, always too clever by half .

So it is only with Selangor that they can exchange CAT and MOUSE stories to bring back what’s lost. It will be fun and games and it’ll keep them busy, kah! kah! kah! kah!



abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Hank,
Talking about the British Elections and its outcome is in line with your subject taken with Capt. Edwards and Capt. Underwood during HSC classes.
But you have avoided comments on Malaysian politics owing to reasons mentioned to me before. It looked like you had lifted the self-imposed embargo. This reflects your new vantage point on your horizon.

kaykuala said...

Dear Hal,
It must be resolved fast, a govt must emerge. It is now not so much politics as it is economics. Britain apparently is in the woes of a debt crisis. Strong policies ought to be in place. There’s also the looming contagion effects arising from the troubled Greek economy.
A hung parliament is the last thing they would have wanted. The last time it happened in 1974 it pitted the PM, Edward Heath (Tory) against pipe chomping Harold Wilson(Labour). It’s switched this time, with the PM, George Brown (Labour) against Cameron (Tory) with the Lib-Dem in the background.How different will it be resolved.
For all you know, if it persists there would be fresh elections a few months down the road. We’ll see. It’ll be interesting!

kaykuala said...

Dear Hal,
PM Gordon(not George)Brown is out. The Conservative's David Cameron is now PM, at 43 the youngest in 200 yrs. Yes, the govt classes rekindled the interests again.
It is good to follow the ensuing developments. You being a hands-on govt folk before would find a lot of similarities on how their govt would fare from now on ( google for more )