Well, what a night.
When the exit polls were announced a 10pm, it was a shock to us all - the General Election has resulted in a ‘Hung Parliament’.
This is because the Conservatives have the largest vote share, but insufficient MPs to hit the 326 threshold to form a majority government.
A party must win 326 (just over half) of the 650 seats in the House of Commons in order to win an absolute majority. However, in reality the winning threshold is 323, as MPs from Northern Irish party Sinn Fein don't attend parliament, as a matter of longstanding principle.
On rare occasions, the winning party does not gain enough seats to form an absolute majority, i.e. it has won fewer seats than all the other parties put together. This is "a hung parliament."
So what happens now?
- The conservatives could persuade another party or parties to support them with a so-called "confidence and supply" arrangement
- The conservatives or opposition could try to create a formal coalition by officially joining up with one or more party in the House of Commons to form a government with an absolute majority. Conservative sources are supposedly meeting with the DUP at present.
- Go it alone. The winning party could decide to take a huge risk and try to run a government without an absolute majority. Parties that have tried this throughout British political history have not tended to last very long.
It may be that some of the Conservative Manifesto promises that relied on a large majority will now no longer go ahead (e.g. grammar schools).
We are once again in politically unprecedented times but one of the positives we can draw upon is the increase in younger voters taking to the polls this year. Early reports suggest that 72% of 18-24 year olds voted which is a huge increase on previous years when youth turnout was only around 40%. Overall participation in the election is also up and at almost 70% of the population is the highest turnout since 1997.
More detail is emerging as I write this; we’ll keep you posted once a clearer picture emerges.