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Mother of All Parliaments promises unpredictable springtime

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By Adrian Lancashire
Mother of All Parliaments promises unpredictable springtime

<p>Elections have been predictable in the UK for decades. It is how they worked, the Conservatives in power then Labour then the same again. </p> <p>The United Kingdom’s elected representatives have long raised comment that the posturing so often aimed at embarrassing the other side might not fairly reflect their responsibilities; 2015, however, might see a less clear-cut outcome, and take the wind out of some of those sails.</p> <p>This year makes political history, the first to gather in the same studio seven party leaders for a televised debate, not just the usual suspects.</p> <p>It did not look like the traditional big ones could carry this election on their own.</p> <p>The smaller ones upset the apple cart, and they will insist on a say in how the apples are stacked after they are all counted.</p> <p>They will have that say, in spite of a more than 100-year-old electoral system that has never worked in favour of smaller political formations but rather the large.</p> <p>The UK is divided into 650 parliamentary constituencies, each of which is represented by one Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons. </p> <p>The candidate in each who wins the most votes gets the seat. This is called “first past the post”. </p> <p>Either a party’s candidates are numerous enough to form a majority, and thereby it governs, or no party breaks the 51% ribbon and you get what is called a “hung parliament”. That has happened five times since 1910. </p> <p>In this picture, the party with the most MPs can form a minority government and try to govern or teams up with others and a coalition governs.</p> <p>That is what happened after the last general election, in 2010, and is expected this time.</p> <p>Although the votes have scattered, even if a small party got 25% of the votes, the first past the post in each constituency system means it might only muster a handful of MPs.</p> <p>There was an attempt to reform this in 2011, a referendum was held on whether to switch to an alternative system but it returned a resounding two thirds rejection of change.</p> <p>This election leaves the floor open to show-stealing, and then horse-trading, the persuasion match, the rounds of ‘I’ll be your best friend if you will do ‘x’ for my party/constituency/national cause.’ </p> <p>No one can say who will end up in whose pocket.</p> <p>There is quite a potential for embarrassment. </p> <h4>Follow election night live from 10pm on May 7 on <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2015/04/19/uk-election-2015-latest-roundup/">euronews.com</a> </h4>