Left or right

In the UK, peo­ple are wait­ing anx­ious­ly for the birth of a new prince or princess. It was sup­posed to hap­pen in late April, but it is a bit delayed. Anoth­er thing peo­ple are look­ing for­ward to are the nation­al elec­tions. At least we know on what date those are going to hap­pen: The 7th of May. The elec­tion cam­paign is focus­ing on the lead­ers of the two largest par­ties: David Cameron for the Con­ser­v­a­tives (also known as Tories) and Ed Miliband for Labour. At the moment they are at a draw in the polls.

Ed Miliband en David Cameron

Ed Miliband and David Cameron

It seems that no par­ty will get an absolute major­i­ty. There­fore, the news is full of spec­u­la­tions about pos­si­ble coali­tions. In the UK they are not real­ly accus­tomed to a gov­ern­ment with more than 1 par­ty. Since World War II, it hap­pened only twice; the last time was in the last elec­tions. The Con­ser­v­a­tives were the largest and formed a coali­tion with the Lib­er­al Democ­rats. That’s a big dif­fer­ence with the Nether­lands, where in the same peri­od gov­ern­ments always con­sist­ed of at least two parties.

So the British peo­ple are in a bit of a pan­ic: What will Her Majesty’s Gov­ern­ment look like this time around? On the BBC web­site you can give it a try your­self with the the coali­tion game. I tried to, but it is quite dif­fi­cult. Par­ties already exclud­ed cer­tain oth­er par­ties as part­ners, oth­ers have opin­ions that are each oth­ers oppo­sites… The least I can say is that they will nev­er have a pur­ple gov­ern­ment here.

Design by Harriet Bishop

Design by Har­ri­et Bishop

The news is full of per­son­al attacks on the lead­ers. At the begin­ning of the cam­paign, Ed Miliband was seen as some­what of a softy. But he has shown his skills in the debates. This week he gave an inter­view to Rus­sell Brand (from the book Rev­o­lu­tion), that got a lot of media cov­er­age. Brand is con­tro­ver­sial because he calls on peo­ple not to vote. In his view, the world is gov­erned by big com­pa­nies and elec­tions are always won by the par­ty with the largest bud­get. He is very pop­u­lar among young peo­ple, so it was a smart move by Miliband to have a con­ver­sa­tion with him.

I think that our door­mat has also formed an opin­ion by now, because it is show­ered by fly­ers from polit­i­cal par­ties each day. What strikes me is that the var­i­ous news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines all speak out for a par­ty now that we are close to the elec­tions. To my knowl­edge, that’s not com­mon in the Nether­lands. The Guardian choos­es the new direc­tion of the Labour Par­ty for exam­ple, but the Sun hitch­es a ride on the cur­rent baby hype: It’s a Tory!

Final­ly, a total­ly off-top­ic video of an Egyt­ian come­di­an who explains the Mid­dle East to the BBC: Bassem Youssef’s guide to the Mid­dle East.

Sources of pic­tures: Miliband — Depart­ment of Ener­gy; Cameron — Toms Norde, Val­sts kanceleja