Disgruntled U.K. Voters Rally to Small Parties

   < < Go Back
from The Wall Street Journal,

May 7 election could deny either Labour or Conservatives an outright majority.

Britain faces its most unpredictable election in a generation next week as voters threaten to defect to newly popular small parties.

For decades, the Conservatives and Labour vied for government, creating a stable two-party landscape much like the U.S. Republican-Democrat duopoly.

In the 2010 parliamentary election, however, a fall in support for the two main parties brought Britain its first peacetime coalition government since the 1930s. Going into an election on May 7, growing disenchantment with the political establishment, fueled by years of weak economic growth, has led to a surge in support for smaller parties that could spell political change in the U.K. for years to come.

Opinion polls signal a close race between the center-right Conservative Party and center-left Labour, with neither party currently looking likely to win outright. There are four parties with at least 5% support in polls. A fifth and sixth aren’t far behind.

The picture is made even more complicated by the remarkable rise of the Scottish National Party, which has seen its membership surge since it led Scotland’s independence drive last year. Even though the effort failed, it rallied Scots who felt disillusioned and disconnected with mainstream parties, which had pleaded with voters to reject independence.

More From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):