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May 14 2010
Outlook of the New Coalition Government of the British Version
May 6, as the British election drew to a close, a “Hung Parliament” appeared for the first time since 1974. After several days of dramatic and on-and-off negotiations among the Conservative, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats, the result of the election finally came out on May 11. The Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats reached an agreement on the majority alliance in the Parliament; Gordon Brown announced to resign as United Kingdom’s Prime Minister. Thereafter, Queen Elizabeth II appointed David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, to form a government. Thus Cameron became the new British Prime Minister, and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg became Deputy Prime Minister. British politics entered a new era of coalition between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats.

I. Why could the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats form a coalition?

It is publicly known that the British Conservative Party is a right-wing political party, while the Liberal Democrats is a center-left party, whose political ideas are closer to those of the left-wing Labour Party. Thus, normally, it is uncommon for the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats to form the government together. However, the coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats happened this time. There are several reasons listed as follows.

First of all, in the election, if the Conservative Party can build an alliance with the Liberal Democrats who had won 57 seats in the Parliament, the two can form a stable parliament. Therefore, the Liberal Democrats finally decided to form coalition with the Conservatives at Labor’s expense to win voters’ support in the future elections.

Secondly, the Conservative Party gave a big offer to the Liberal Democrats, such as inviting the Liberal Democratic leader Clegg to become the Deputy Prime Minister, a reputable position in the Parliament. Besides, the two parties have reached an agreement after negotiation that they would build a government with a fixed term of five years. This means that for the first time in history, the United Kingdom decided the time for next election in advance; it also means that there will be no election in Britain for five years, thus the Liberal Democrats, the relatively weaker party, will be able to run the government with the Conservatives for five years. On the other hand, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats have decided to hold a referendum on reforming the Parliament election.

Lastly, after recent reflection and renewal, the Conservative Party has shown a great deal of flexibility and affinity instead of the rigidness and extreme conservatism in the past.

II. What are the new directions of the new government’s domestic and foreign policies?

Undoubtedly, the new coalition faces great challenge at the beginning. The British economy is at a very difficult time. On the positive side, the two parties have consensus on reducing fiscal deficit.

In the realm of foreign policy, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats might have bigger differences, especially in terms of Britain’s relationship with the EU. The Conservative Party always has doubts about the European integration, while the Liberal Democrats tends to push the United Kingdom to join the European integration. There will also be uncertainties on whether the two parties can agree on British-American relations.

However, based on the reality of current international situation and Britain’s international position and interests, the two parties of the new government will reach consensus on their attitudes toward the United States and Europe, i.e., they will implement a policy that will continue the close relationship with the United States without estranging Europe.

III. What are the impacts that the new British government will exert on Sino-British relations?
Generally speaking, in the past 13-year governance of Labour Party, Sino-British relations have been good. Cameron, the new Prime Minister, is unlikely to change Britain’s pragmatic and friendly policy to China.

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