Support plunges for UK's Liberal Democrats

2011-05-06 10:01
London - Britain's Liberal Democrats slumped in local elections and were set to lose a referendum on electoral reform on Friday after voters punished the junior coalition party for its role in a deficit-cutting government.

Votes were being counted after regional and council polls held on Thursday, but early results showed support for the centre-left Liberal Democrats had plunged. Backing for the Conservatives, the largest coalition party, held up well.

In Scotland, the Scottish National Party (SNP) made big gains in elections to a devolved assembly, which could pave the way for a future referendum on Scottish independence to end a 300-year union with England.

Treasury minister and senior Liberal Democrat Danny Alexander said the British coalition, formed a year ago, would see through its austerity programme.

"Parties in government, in the mid-term, especially when you are having to make very difficult decisions, do suffer in local elections," Alexander told Sky News.

"That is disappointing but it means we just have to redouble our efforts to deliver on the plan that we have set out."

Coalition could split

The government has embarked on a programme of swingeing public spending cuts to rein in a record budget deficit.

A poor showing for the Liberal Democrats has raised the prospect that the coalition could split and derail the austerity programme, although most analysts still expect the coalition to soldier on.

Liberal Democrat popularity has plummeted since they formed a coalition with the centre-right Conservatives last year and created Britain's first coalition since World War Two.

This may spur challenges to party leader Nick Clegg, but senior Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Chris Huhne told the BBC now was not the time to look for a new leader.

Ill-tempered spats between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in the run-up to Thursday's votes could make the work of cabinet more difficult but few expect either partner to force a split and risk propelling the opposition Labour party into government.

"The problem is the combination of a painless night for the Conservatives with an extremely painful one for their coalition partners," said Philip Cowley, Professor of Parliamentary Government at the University of Nottingham.

Predictions

"But there's no prospect of it ending soon. The Conservative leadership know that they'd not win an election outright on their own," he added.

Britons were also expected to reject a proposal to change the country's voting system in a referendum that was the main prize secured by the Liberal Democrats when they entered government after decades in the political wilderness.

In the first nationwide referendum for more than 30 years, Britons were asked whether they wanted to replace the first-past-the-post method of electing national politicians with an "alternative vote" system in which they could rank candidates in order of preference.

In Scotland, the BBC predicted 65 seats for the SNP in a 129 member parliament, a one seat majority that would allow it to push through plans for a referendum on Scottish independence. Party leader Alex Salmond has said he would delay such a move until later in a new five year term.

Read more on:    nick clegg  |  uk
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Africa: Land of Billionaires!

Find out who are the richest of the richest in Africa!

 
 

Men24.com

Jurassic World trailer is epic!
Best bro movies 2014
Every man should be able to do these three things
Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Hot festive offers at kalahari.com!

Hurry! Stocks are limited. Don’t miss out. Shop Now!

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may feel divided. Conflict between mind and emotions can create tension or indecision. This could lead to stressful feelings...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.