With the large number of newsworthy political events in our country over the recent weeks, I am sure many people are not aware that there was a parliamentary election in the United Kingdom on June 8
th. It is called parliamentary, because it involved electing members of the British Parliament. This body is also known as the House of Commons.
The election is important because, the leader of the ruling British Conservative party, who is also the Prime Minister — Theresa May — was hoping to increase the number of seats her party has in parliament. Instead, the party lost 12 seats.
This amounts to a gross miscalculation by Prime Minister May. She thought winning the election would strengthen her bargaining power in negotiating favorable terms for the U.K. to exit the European Union (EU).
The referendum dealing with the U.K leaving the EU (BREXIT) was held last summer. Ironically, Theresa May was not Prime Minister, when the referendum was held. In calling the June 8th election, the Prime Minister gambled and lost.
The question she will be asked continuously is: Why did she call the election this year when the U.K. will not officially leave the EU until two years from now?
Although her Conservative Party won most of the seats in parliament, it does not have a clear majority to govern. Therefore, Prime Minister May will need help from at least one of the minor parties in the U.K. in order for her Conservative Party to pass any major legislation.
She is seeking an alliance with the Unionist Party of North Ireland which won 10 seats in the election. Prime Minister May should take a page from Israeli politics. The Israeli experience shows that having a coalition government does not guarantee that the minority party (in the coalition) can always be relied on for its support.
This is very important, especially if the party feels left out of the government’s decision-making process. When this occurs, the party is likely to withdraw from the coalition. This will make the governing party ineffective.
The Israeli experience also suggests that a coalition is a very ineffective way of governing. Prime Minister May needs help and the Labor Party is just waiting for a vote of no confidence which will topple her government.
Good luck to our cousins across the Atlantic. They need our sympathy. The lesson learned from the U.K. election is that our political leaders need to think before they act.
This holds true, whether they are in the U.K. or the U.S. Recent political events in the U.S bears his out.
Dr. Noel A.D. Thompson is a political scientist who now teaches at Tuskegee University after many years as a professor at Auburn University.