It’s a bright May morning and the election results are in. The Tories won the highest number of seats, as well as getting the most votes. However, the party remains negotiations away from getting back into power. Where next?
In order to get a majority a party needs 326/650 of the seats. In 2010, the Conservatives fell short just of this magic number, prompting them to join with the Liberal Democrats.
Who should David Cameron look to so he can keep the keys to Number Ten?
If the Liberal Democrats’ vote share collapses then the party could lose about half it’s seats, meaning that the Conservatives might need help from more than two parties.
It’s possible that the Conservatives could still wish to govern alone, but they will still need support from other parties. More importantly, they will need to form anti-Labour alliance to back them on key motions.
The first port of call for David Cameron will be Nick Clegg (if he keeps his seat) and the Liberal Democrats. However, five years of coalition might force the Lib Dems to reconsider life on the opposition benches to take time and regroup. Nonetheless, another Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition looks feasible if the parties weather the political storm in May.
If Cameron can get the Lib Dems on board, and together they still fall short of a majority then who else can the parties look too?
What about UKIP? It will be hard for UKIP to get a decent number of seats in the Commons, but if they get enough to give Cameron a majority then a quick referendum on the EU in exchange for a few years of stable government could be possible. If the Liberal Democrats are not needed as well, then this could be easy, but if they are Nick Clegg’s party may not wish to be involved.
However, if UKIP’s main goal is getting the referendum, then even the Liberal Democrats would likely stomach that for more years in power. A Lib Dem-Tory-UKIP coalition would be very unlikely, but a Lib Dem-Tory one with UKIP backing - in exchange for a referendum - might just be possible.
Who else could help David Cameron’s party? In Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein do not take their seats, which would make getting a practical majority marginally easier. Additionally, the DUP would likely support a Conservative-led government, which is particularly useful as they are likely to increase their number of seats from eight to nine. A new Lucid Talk poll suggests that the DUP could regain Belfast East from Alliance. The poll suggests that the DUP could get 34%, compared to Alliances 29%. This marginal gain for the DUP could help a Tory-led government.
Overall, the Conservatives’ main friends are their current allies, and the party taking votes from them currently. UKIP may be the enemy now, but if they perform well in May, then the Tories might need to rely on them to stay in power.
In May, it looks like anything could be possible.
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