Scotland gets its revenge at the polls
The new British government will be decided on May 7. It’s still a month away, but in the UK general elections, the official campaign period is nearly 40 days. It’s been just one week into the campaign, and the media has been flooded with political news. One of most representative examples is the argument that voting for this person will eventually end up helping another candidate. In other words, the argument provokes voters to support the leading candidate, rather than splitting their ballots on a minor candidate. This is one of the reasons why two-party systems are strongly promoted under a single-member district system.
In the UK general elections, these arguments were applied to the conservative UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the left-leaning Scottish National Party (SNP). The Conservatives say that voting for the UKIP means that one will go to sleep and wake up under the Labour Party’s rule. The Labour Party says voting for the SNP will only help the Conservative Party.
These arguments are made because the UKIP and the SNP are unusually strong. But the SNP is actually more threatening. The UKIP is the third-largest party, accounting for about 13 percent of national support. Because Britain has a single-member electorate system, that is not enough to win seats, although it is strong enough to influence the election and force a competitor loss. Currently, the UKIP is expected to win less than 10 out of 650 seats.
But the SNP is expected to win 45 seats allocated to Scotland. In the past, Scotland was a stronghold of the Labour Party. Although the residents voted for the SNP in the local elections, they used to support Labour in general elections. But since last year’s Scottish independence referendum, the trend has changed. It is a serious blow to the Labour Party. Right now, neither the Conservative Party nor the Labour Party is expected to win a majority, so a coalition government is being discussed.
And yet, the leaps and bounds made by the SNP are shaking the Palace of Westminster. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats experienced a coalition government once, but the Labour Party has had no such experience since World War II.
The situation is even more complicated due to the SNP’s platform, which promotes Scottish independence, and its over-representation - 40 seats - despite the fact that its supporters only make up 3 percent of the entire population. It is almost certain that it will apply political pressure on issues distant from the interests of Britain as a whole. Some even say that Scotland, which once failed to invade England, is now invading it with votes.
So how will Britain overcome this challenge?
The author is the JoongAng Ilbo’s London correspondent.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 7, Page 34
by KO JUNG-AE