Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

British flags London mall taxi Luke Hayter/Flickr

Brittle Britain

Once a haven of political and economic stability amid the turmoil of the euro crisis, the United Kingdom is about to become the EU’s most politically unpredictable member. No amount of denial ahead of the May 7 general election will change that.

LONDON – Which European country faces the greatest risk of political instability and financial turmoil in the year ahead? With less than a week to go before the British general election on May 7, the answer is both obvious and surprising. Once a haven of political and economic stability amid the turmoil of the euro crisis, the United Kingdom is about to become the European Union’s most politically unpredictable member.

Indeed, continuity is the one election outcome that can almost certainly be excluded. Unless opinion polls are inaccurate to a degree unprecedented in British history, the two parties comprising the government coalition, Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, have almost no chance of winning a combined parliamentary majority.

One possibility – with a probability slightly above 50% according to the polls – is that Britain, the birthplace of Thatcherism and the EU’s standard-bearer of neoliberal economics, will soon have a Labour-led government committed to the biggest tax-raising program since the 1970s. Moreover, because of the peculiarities of the British electoral system and the rise of Scottish and Welsh nationalism, a Labour government’s survival would depend on the support of parties with even more radical economic agendas and dedicated to dismantling the UK.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/PJ6i6Di;
  1. elerian122_Peter MacdiarmidGetty Images for Somerset House_bigdatascreentechman Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for Somerset House

    Adapting to a Fast-Forward World

    Mohamed A. El-Erian

    The world is going through a period of accelerating change, as four secular developments illustrate. Firms and governments must make timely adjustments, not only to their business models and operational approaches, but also to both their tactical and strategic mindsets.

    2
  2. roubini137_Mikhail SvetlovGetty Images_xi putin Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

    The White Swans of 2020

    Nouriel Roubini

    Financial markets remain blissfully in denial of the many predictable global crises that could come to a head this year, particularly in the months before the US presidential election. In addition to the increasingly obvious risks associated with climate change, at least four countries want to destabilize the US from within.

    8
  3. tharoor137_ Hafiz AhmedAnadolu Agency via Getty Images_india protest Hafiz Ahmed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    Pariah India

    Shashi Tharoor laments that the government's intolerant chauvinism is leaving the country increasingly isolated.