In contrast to the hard mathematical precision of my recent results analysis, today I go out on a limb for a national prediction. The LibDems will collect more votes and more seats than ever, but not as many seats as the number of votes would imply (as usual). What will thrill them to bits, however, will be the wildly disproportionate influence that they will wield as the maker/breaker of kings and coalitions.
Unaccustomed as they are to the exercise of power, their initial efforts may appear gauche, attracting criticism and derision. They will be completely unbothered by anyone who tries to rain on their parade. In their shoes, I would push for electoral reform being the primary and absolute pre-condition for any form of alliance, and get the legislation passed asap.
After a while the wheels will fall off, and everything will go pear-shaped, the new friends will fall to bickering, and we will be stuck with stalemate and stagnation. Eventually, the penny will drop and whoever is running the show will realise that the only resolution will be to call an election.
Hah! Now it gets interesting. With the new electoral system (whatever it is, some degree of proportional representation or transferable voting) smaller parties will get more of a look-in on a purely mathematical basis. More importantly, people’s voting patterns will almost certainly change. Even under the current system, about 10% of votes are cast for parties that have absolutely no chance whatsoever of winning. Within a new electoral framework that allocates seats and power in proportion to actual votes, many more people will vote for the smaller parties.
We may find ourselves living in a truly multi-party democracy.