On Thursday 8th June 2017, voters across the country went to the polls following Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election just over six weeks ago. The reason behind May’s shocking decision was ultimately her desire for a stronger mandate to deliver upon her promises for Brexit. This morning, the UK woke up to even more unexpected news; instead of a predicted Conservative majority, the country faces the prospect of a hung parliament. But, what exactly does this mean?
What is a hung parliament?
In order to be successful, a party has to win 326 out of 650 seats in an election to gain a majority, which provides them with the power to form a government. In the results of this election, the Conservatives lost 12 seats but won a total of 316, whereas Labour gained 29 seats which gave them a total of 261 seats. Remarkably, a hung parliament is an uncommon occurrence in Britain, but it has happened before - in 1954 and 2010. Although Theresa May did not win a majority she will remain prime minister because her party still has the most seats. The only way that her leadership could change is if Theresa May is unable to form a government or if she feels that she has no choice but to resign.
However, this does not automatically guarantee that the Conservative party will form the next UK government. In a chaotic political situation like this, when neither party has enough MPs to win a majority, it is possible for Labour, who came second, to join forces with another party to form a government. This is called a minority government.
In the event that Theresa May cannot form a government, she will have to resign and then, it is likely that Jeremy Corbyn will replace her as prime minister. Reportedly, Theresa May is due at Buckingham Palace today to seek permission to form a new UK government. This indicates that May will not resign unless she has to.
How did young people vote in the election?
In this election, the number of young voters was staggering. Amongst Britain’s 18-25 year olds, the turnout was almost 75 percent! For many reasons, Jeremy Corbyn was very popular with younger generations during the election campaign. For the first time, many young voters chose to vote Labour, which is believed to be one of the main reasons why Labour was unpredictably successful. This is demonstrated by Labour’s victories in student areas like Sheffield, Canterbury and Newcastle. Recently, many celebrities encouraged their followers to get more involved in politics on their Instagram and Twitter accounts, which many of their young followers seem to have done. For example, since Theresa May made her announcement on April 18th, over one million 18-24 year olds registered to vote. Whether you voted for Labour, the Conservatives, for the Liberal Democrats or for the Green Party, it proves that your vote does count and your voice does matter. Ultimately, this election has demonstrated that when young people come together, they truly have the power to make a difference.
What does it mean for our future?
At the moment, nobody really knows what will happen and this kind of uncertainty can be unsettling. It is unclear how this will impact the Brexit negotiations and whether this might result in another election in the near future. Moreover, it is indefinite how long it will take to form a new government. In 2010, it was only five days before a decision was reached but it could take much longer, especially as the parties are so different. However, the new parliament is due to convene on Tuesday 13th June and the negotiations for Brexit are also thought to take place soon. Although it is easy to feel helpless; speak to the people around you, hear their thoughts and stay updated by following the news!
- By Lili Melvin