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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Speedy Elections

As noted yesterday, the 2012 presidential election cycle is already informally underway, and will get very real the day after the midterm elections on November 2.
By comparison, check out our older cousins in the United Kingdom. Today Prime Minister Gordon Brown set the date for his country’s next general election: 30 days from now.
Now obviously, electioneering in Britain is not totally confined to the formal period of the campaign, but much of it actually does take place in the sprint to election day, and that’s the case in most other democracies as well. It helps illustrate one of the major drawbacks of our own system, in which constitutionally fixed general election dates allow campaigning for major offices to creep back through the calendar relentlessly.
As for the likely outcome of the UK elections, the Conservatives have long led in the polls, which is unsurprising given the long tenure of Labour control (13 years), and the condition of the economy. But the Tory gap over Labour has been shrinking lately, and if it continues to shrink, what looked like an almost certain Tory victory a year ago could turn into a narrow advantage producing a “hung parliament”–i.e., where no party has a majority in the House of Commons. That scenario could create a minority government in which either the Tories or Labour form a coalition with the third-party Liberal Democrats, or if negotiations with the LibDems fail, another quick election.
American Republicans looking to the British elections as a possible harbinger of good things to come here at home should take note of Tory leader David Cameron’s repeated pledged that protecting the National Health Service–a.k.a., “socialized medicine” in the real, not (as with ObamaCare) imaginary sense–will be his “top priority.” Tories have also been blasting Brown for exceesively austere fiscal policies. So a Tory victory, if it happens, wouldn’t exactly be transferable to the U.S.

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