With the election looming ever-closer, we are updating our General Election simulator at increasingly frequent intervals.
Yesterday the simulator was loaded with the latest odds, and an interactive version is available on our General Election Simulator page.
For our earlier simulations, before we started modifying the simulator in order to increase the chances of favourites for seats, we retrospectively apply our modification to our old odds. This means the expected values will differ to those given in our December and March updates.
We will now go through each party's progression under our simulator.
Northern Irish parties
For this category we include those expected to win more than 5 seats, excluding the big two. This leaves the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and UKIP, which are the parties most likely to be part of any coalition
The very static behaviour of all parties in Northern Ireland indicates that there are a lot less marginal seats than elsewhere. Indeed, the closest seat according to our model is Belfast South, and even there the SDLP have a 76.2% chance of victory.
These we will define as parties outside of Northern Ireland we expect to win under 5 seats. These are the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and Respect.
The big story of the election has been the rise of the SNP, which we profiled last week. With a seat total of between 45 and 55 expected, it is amazing that in December the SNP were only anticipated to win just over 20 seats. Since then their rise has been meteoric, with a big increase in the last few weeks showing that the negative tactics by the right-wing media has very much backfired. They are now appear to be the clear third-biggest UK party, which is remarkable given that they only stand in 9% of seats.
The big two
However, as anyone who has been following the pre-election posturing will know, it is no longer solely about having the most seats. It is clear from the graph above that no party is close to having a majority, therefore we need to consider who may form the next government.
The five possible coalitions we are going to look at are as follows:
- Conservative/Liberal Democrat
- Labour/Green/Plaid/SNP (the "rainbow coalition")
- Labour/Liberal Democrats
So now rather than looking at the progression of individual parties, we can now examine the progression of these coalitions. For the DUP, who we only have expected seat totals for in 2015, we will assume their December total is the same as their March one.
However, looking at the graph above, none of our coalitions look capable of reaching this magic figure. The closest is the rainbow coalition, which may also see the SDLP be involved, which may just reach a majority. But with so many parties involved, and with such a small majority, such a situation could be unstable.
This means that a real possibility is a minority government. Even if the Conservatives find the most seats, it might not necessarily be their government, as the other parties may just be able to block their forming a government, giving Labour the chance of forming a minority. This may rely on case-by-case support from other parties. This is a governmental system used on the continent, as pointed out by Nick Clegg. However, in a country very much used to a two-party system, will the media and public give such a system a chance? If not, it may result in a second election being called, where the Conservatives and Labour will use the chaos to try and win seats from other parties, by telling voters that if they don't vote for them, then the country won't get anything done. In reality, the lack of action in government will have been caused by the parties' lack of cooperation.
But then, that's nothing new.