Model calls for smaller parties to weaken the coalition parties, gaining 44 seats
May 5th, 2015
The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.
COLUMBIA, Mo. – With the 2015 elections for the Parliament of the United Kingdom to be held Thursday, a new election model developed by political scientists at the University Missouri predicts a hung parliament with the Labour Party winning a plurality. Mary Stegmaier, an assistant professor in the MU Truman School of Public Affairs, says this new model predicts voters will shift their support away from the traditional parties in favor of smaller political parties.
“We expect the landscape of Parliament to change drastically,” Stegmaier said. “What we have seen during the past several months’ worth of polls, economic conditions and past trends suggests that more and more voters are turning away from the larger parties, Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat, in favor of smaller parties including the UK Independence Party, the Scottish National Party, the Green Party and others. This will result in a hung parliament where no single party will have the ability to control the government.”
For their model, which they presented this spring at the London of School of Economics and Political Science, Stegmaier and coauthor Laron Williams, an assistant professor in the MU Department of Political Science in the College of Arts and Science, examined data collected from monthly surveys of British voters throughout the past several years and combined that information with changing economic conditions, political polls and past British voting trends.
The new model predicts that in Britain, the Labour Party will win nearly 35 percent of the vote, with the Conservatives in second with just more than 31 percent of the vote. The Liberal Democrats also are predicted to lose more than half their seats, from 56 to 26. Furthermore, this model predicts that the smaller British parties will experience a combined rise in seats from 18 seats to 62 seats.
“Typically, the trend for U.K. parliamentary elections is for support to shift from the governing party to one of the major parties in opposition,” Stegmaier said. “However, this year all of our markers and model predictors are suggesting that rather than support shifting from one big party to another, that support will shift to a number of smaller parties. It will be very interesting to observe how this phenomenon, if it occurs, will alter the way the system works in the future.”
While Stegmaier is confident in this model, she says that one factor that may result in more votes for the Labour and Conservative parties is that many voters decide to forego voting for smaller parties if they do not believe that those candidates have a legitimate chance of winning against larger party candidates.