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UK coalition marks first 100 days

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UK coalition marks first 100 days


It is a 100 days since British Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg emerged into Downing Street’s Rose Garden to announce their political partnership to the world.

Cobbled together after May’s inconclusive election, the union between the majority Conservatives and the third party Liberal Democrats meant the UK had its first coalition government since World War Two.

Hardly natural bedfellows, some predicted chaos, particularly in light of Britain’s financial state. Despite such doubts, from day one the coalition made tackling Britain’s big budget deficit its top priority.

Britain’s finance minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, said: “This is the unavoidable budget and I am not going to hide hard choices from the British people or bury them in the small print of the budget documents.”

Surprisingly smooth so far, opinion polls suggest the coalition continues to enjoy a honeymoon, even if there are some signs Liberal Democrat support may be waning slightly.

But, tougher challenges arguably lie ahead. The reforms being touted to Britain’s National Health Service remain one area of concern, especially for many Liberal Democrats – an issue which was not settled in the immediate aftermath of the election. Another key test is schools. The Conservatives’ treasured ‘Academies Bill’ is also another source of anxiety between the parties.

But, such internal differences could be irrelevant once the public starts feeling government cuts. Some experts predict major faultlines in the coalition may appear as the harshest fiscal medicine in decades takes affect.

Nicola Smith, Senior Policy Officer in the Economics Department, in the Trade Union Congress, said: “It does seem fair to presume that once the spending cuts actually start to hit people’s services, people’s communities and people can see the problems that are being caused in their local areas as a result of this sharp and quick withdrawal of public funding, the public opinion may start to change”

For the moment, however, all appears relatively rosy given the scale of the ideological differences both parties have had to set aside.

But a dip in the polls could change everything in a country that is historically uncomfortable with coalitions.

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