The election result that no-one wanted

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Birmingham

“Having sought an increased majority, the Conservatives now find themselves in a minority, though still in government, and within days of the start of Brexit negotiations. The electoral process which the British public did not seek has produced an outcome few politicians wanted. It will be another test of the difficult dialogue between the political class and their frustrated electorate.”

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The 2017 general election has seen a re-assertion of the traditional simple two-party system at the electoral level, but ushers in a period of relative uncertainty and possibly spontaneous arrangements in Parliament at a time of unprecedented international challenges for the Government.

At the electoral level, the two main parties have won a higher share of the vote between them than at any election since 1970. UKIP's collapse and the failure of the Liberal Democrats to capitalise on the Remain vote left the field open to Labour and the Conservatives. In that battle, the initial artificially huge lead of the Conservatives inevitably lost some of its soft element, as it had under Blair and Thatcher's campaigns, but to this were added the difficulties arising from the Conservatives' manifesto proposals on school funding and benefits for the elderly. The Prime Minister's ambivalent response to the criticisms these prompted, and her reluctance to engage with other leaders or the media cost further support - especially in a contest in which Theresa May's strength and stability were the centrepiece.

Having sought an increased majority, the Conservatives now find themselves in a minority, though still in government and within days of the start of Brexit negotiations. The options this offers include running a minority administration like that of Harold Wilson in 1974 until a new election or making a more formal arrangement with another party such as the Democratic Unionists in Northern Ireland; and within either of these, the Prime Minister's position is already under intense scrutiny.

The electoral process which the British public did not seek has produced an outcome few politicians wanted. It will be another test of the difficult dialogue between the political class and their frustrated electorate..

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