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Reasons for Ed Miliband to be cheerful (we had to stretch a bit)

Plus: the fates of fourth parties, and voting ages

3 January 2015

9:00 AM

3 January 2015

9:00 AM

Election omens

Reasons for Ed Miliband to feel confident in 2015:
— Only three parliaments since 1945 have run to their full five-year term. The subsequent general elections, in 1964, 1997 and 2010, all resulted in a change of government. But John Major did hold on in 1992, having gone to the country four years and ten months after the last election.
— In four elections since 1945, the three main parties have been led by MPs who represent constituencies in each of the three countries which make Great Britain: 1970, 1979, 1983 and 1987. The Conservatives won them all. This year’s election, assuming no change of party leadership between now and May, will be only the second one since 1945 when all three main party leaders had constituencies in England. The other was 1997, the year of the Conservatives’ heaviest defeat.


Some reasons for David Cameron to feel confident:

— Since 1945, only one PM who served the whole length of a parliament failed to win a second term: Edward Heath in 1974. No leader since 1945 who became prime minister at his first attempt has failed to win if he stood for a second time.

Come fourth and multiply

2015 has been predicted to be the election when small parties break through. Who has come fourth in general elections since the war, in terms of the popular vote? (Liberal-SDP Alliance counts as one party)

Election year Votes for fourth party
1945 – Liberal National 686,652
1950 – Unionist 1,013,909
1951 – Liberal 730,546
1955 – Sinn Fein 152,310
1959 – Plaid Cymru 77,571
1964 – Ind. Republican 101,628
19661992 – SNP varying from 128,474 in 1966 to 839,617 in Oct 1974
1997 – Referendum party 811,849
2001 – SNP 464,314
2005 – Ukip 605,973
2010 – Ukip 919,471

Only one other minor party has ever polled more than half a million votes: the BNP, with 564,321 in 2010.

Youth votes

Ed Miliband has promised to lower the voting age to 16 if elected. Countries which have voting ages other than 18 in national elections:
16 Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba
17 East Timor, Indonesia, Sudan
19 South Korea
21 Cameroon, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tonga

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