Local elections show first signs of shift away from two-party system

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable addresses the media with activists outside Chelmsford City Council Civic Centre on May 3, 2019 in Chelmsford, England. In local election results,...

Both Labour and the Conservatives struggle in local council elections.

 Both the Conservative and Labour parties have struggled in the local elections. The Conservative Party lost over 1,300 councillors with many pointing to the party's failures at national level for these results.

Labour lost nearly 82 councillors to highlight the struggles of both the two main parties in the UK. Is this the first sign that the electorate is losing faith in the Tories and Labour?

Electorate disillusioned after Brexit

British Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the Scottish Conservative Party Conference at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on May 3, 2019 in Aberdeen, Scotland.The Prime Minister...

Both Brexiteers and Remainers have become increasingly frustrated with the handling of Brexit from both the government and the opposition.

Theresa May's Conservative government have failed to finalise a Brexit deal and leave the EU. And many Tory MPs and supporters have called for her to quit.

Jeremy Corbyn has also received criticism from some factions of the Labour party for the opposition's approach to Brexit.

These concerns led to the creation of The Independent Group, which was formed by 11 breakaway Labour and Tory MPs who had become disillusioned with the two main parties in the UK.

And now, with the first set of votes since the last general election, the electorate has shown similar disillusionment. Labour and Conservative's failures in national politics have seen local councillors suffer as a result.

It would be simplistic to put the two main parties' struggles purely down to Brexit. But it has indubitably affected the local results. 

Local elections only tell part of the story

Of course, it is not possible to build an entirely accurate national picture out of these results for various reasons. Voters should focus on local issues, rather than national politics, during these elections.

Discovering how many voters focused on local issues during these elections would be impossible. The next real test will come during the European Elections later this month.

It is also worth noting that voter turnout was expectedly low. According to the Local Government Information Unit chief executive Jonathan Carr-West, turnout was as low as one-third of the electorate.

Also, local elections did not take place in London. The 32 London boroughs, and several other areas, did not hold elections. The capital's vote will be interesting to see when it comes to the European Elections.

End of the two-party system?

A sign of Green Party is seen outside a house near the  poling station in Sheffield , United Kingdom on 2nd of May 2019.  Elections are being held in 248 councils across England and...

However, these local council results are strong indicators of public opinion. And it has given encouragement to other parties in the UK hoping to break into mainstream politics.

With Labour and the Conservatives crumbling, the Lib Dems could be on their way back. After recovering from the backlash following their 2010 coalition with the Tories, the Lib Dems enjoyed success in the local elections.

The Lib Dems have gained over 700 seats as the party returned to the forefront of British politics. Elsewhere, the Green Party added nearly 200 seats and independent candidates enjoyed a surge of success.

This result will also encourage Change UK (formerly The Independent Group) - and other Pro-Remain parties like Renew - ahead of the European Elections.

The two-party system has long dominated the political scene in the UK. Aside from Labour and the Tories, the chance of success for other parties has been limited.

But this could be the first signs of change. We could soon see a seismic shift away from the two-party system with the public growing frustrated and disillusioned with the two main parties.

If fringe parties enjoy similar success in the European Elections, Labour and Conservative will be placed under major pressure as scrutiny from the public increases.

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