News Tip: UK Elections Have 'Profound Implications' for US-UK Relations, Expert Says

Political scientist Georg Vanberg comments

On Thursday, voters in the United Kingdom will elect a new House of Commons in one of the closest British elections in recent history, likely resulting in a "hung parliament" in which no party controls a majority of seats. As a consequence, the results may not be clear for days as parties negotiate to form a coalition composed of multiple parties. •    Quotes: "From an American perspective, the outcome of these negotiations may have profound implications," says Georg Vanberg, a professor of political science at Duke University. "While the election campaign has been dominated by domestic issues, there are sharp political differences among the parties on key foreign policy issues of interest to the United States. Perhaps most important of these is the UK’s defense policy and, along with it, the UK’s commitment to its 'special relationship' with the United States.""While the main parties -- Labour and the Conservatives -- have been generally supportive of the close U.S.-British relationship in foreign affairs, the two most important small parties -- the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalists (SNP) -- have taken a more skeptical attitude. The SNP in particular is strongly opposed to nuclear weapons and a renewal of the UK’s Trident submarine system -- an issue that must be decided by the next government.""The Liberal Democrats successfully delayed a decision on this issue as part of the last coalition negotiations. The SNP may well attempt to extract non-renewal of the UK’s nuclear deterrent, along with a smaller defense budget, as part of the price for its support for a new government.""Moreover, the surge of the SNP, which has taken a sharp bite out of the Labour Party’s hold on parliamentary seats in Scotland, may also keep the issue of the UK’s political unity as a live political issue for years to come, despite the unsuccessful referendum on Scottish independence last fall.""Both are issues that may have significant implications for the ability and willingness of the next British government to continue the close cooperation between the U.S. and the UK."•    Bio:Georg Vanberg is a professor and acting director of undergraduate studies in Duke University's Department of Political Science. His research focuses on comparative politics, methods, political economy and political institutions. Vanberg is also editor of the journal Public Choice.•    For additional comment, contact Vanberg