United Kingdom

Tory coalition partners hammered in local elections, calls for Clegg to quit


Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg - the leader of coalition junior partner -  is facing calls to step down after his the Liberal Democrat party's disastrous showing in local elections, which took place on the same day as a referendum which appears to have thrown out the party's proposal to change the country's voting system. 


: "I'm in favour of the coalition but I think he's run it very badly and in my view he should resign immediately," Gary Long, leader of the LibDem group on Nottingham City Council, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

On Thursday local elections were held in many parts of the United Kingdom, and the Liberal Democrats suffered huge losses particularly in the north of England, where they face a wipeout.

The opposition Labour Party gained control of many LibDem-run city councils, though some analysts say they should have done better.

Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party had a fairly successful night, though the party leader had been careful to create low expectations before the election, saying he expected voters to punish the government for its policy of massive spending cuts.

The vote was the first major test of public opinion since last year's general election, and the results put Nick Clegg in a very difficult position.

He blamed his party's poor performance on anger among traditional Liberal Democrat voters at the spending cuts.

Many Liberal Democrat voters have expressed strong dislike for party leader Nick Clegg, citing his decision to support an increase in university tuition fees, which he had vowed to oppose before he joined the coalition government.

And there could be more bad news for Clegg later on Friday.

Thursday's referendum seems to have said no to a change the system of voting, from the so-called "first past the post system", which has been used for centuries, to an "alternative vote" system, where voters could list candidates in order of preference.

Clegg made holding the referendum one of his main conditions, when he decided to join a coalition with the Conservatives after last May's inconclusive general election.

The two coalition party leaders agreed that they would campaign on opposite sides ahead of the referendum, but their amicable partnership has come under severe strain during a bitterly fought campaign, which nevertheless failed to interest the electorate.

Polls suggest that voters will say no to a new system of voting.

The Scottish National Party made huge gains on Thursday in elections to the Scottish Parliament.

With most results counted, the Labour party has so far chalked up its worst performance for the last 80 years in Scotland.

All the other main parties saw their share of the vote fall, with the Liberal Democrats losing many of their deposits.

As yet it is unclear whether the Scots Nats will win an overall majority.

Analysts point out that some who voted for the Scottish Nationalist Party made clear that in any referendum they would nevertheless vote against independence for Scotland.

SNP leader Alex Salmond says the results represent a "watershed" and that he intends to hold a referendum on the question of independence.








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