Friday 8 May 2015

Post-election Musings: UK 2015

I looked at the BBC website this morning and thought: What the hell has just happened?

All polls were predicting a hung-parliament, with no party claiming a majority of the seats and no 'natural' coalition on the cards. Instead, the Tory Party is back and set to rule alone.

It doesn't end there. Scotland has turned into a one-party country, with the Scottish National Party (SNP) taking 56 seats out of 59 (Tories, Labour and Lib-Dems getting one seat each). Kim Jong-Un will be sending his emissaries to Edinburgh soon: they will want to find out how Nicola Sturgeon achieved democratically what he, (and his father and grandfather) only accomplished with the aid of extraordinary harsh repression. Putin's delegation will not be far behind.

The first-past-the-post system delivered some interesting outcomes. The SNP got 4.8% of the overall vote and 56 seats, the Lib-Dems got 7.8% of votes and 8 seats, UKIP got 12.6% of votes and 1 seat. Although extreme views are fairly common in the UK, they have almost no chance of getting represented in the Parliament. In Scotland, however, nationalism is now mainstream.

I used to think that the big question of this election was the EU: the Tories promised a referendum on leaving the Union. Now, it seems that if they do and England votes to leave, Scotland will vote to stay. With the support that the SNP enjoys right now, this would be a convenient excuse for another independence referendum. The most likely outcome will be that the Tories will continue to grumble but nothing much will happen.

The most interesting issue of this election is one of democratic accountability on the background of mass migration. I am not talking about the fact that the EU immigration was a big issue in this election (which it was). Rather, what I am referring to is the fact that there are some 2 million EU citizens living in the UK who are politically disenfranchised because they do not hold UK passports. Many of them have moved here to stay for the long term (like me). The EU migrants are here perfectly legally, are subject to UK rules and policies, pay taxes, yet have no influence on who gets to form the next government. They face few practical restrictions in the UK (the right to reside and work is automatic and not discretionary for EU citizens) and therefore have little incentive to change their nationality.

Some of them may be allowed to vote in their home countries, where they have not lived for years. That seems equally odd.

We have free movement of people without the ability to transfer one's voting rights to the destination country. Somehow, the wise men in Brussels forgot about this one.