Initial thoughts on the GE17 results

Last night, I followed the results coming in from the General Election (June 8, 2017), as reported by the BBC. For me, the takeaway would be that…

  • It is hopeful that there was a higher turnout and especially that much of this higher turnout can be attributed to young people turning out to vote. In an age where even electronic voting systems are considered to mobilise citizens to vote (electronic voting would create a lower threshold), it is good to see (younger) citizens physically turning out to vote. A paper ballot system is also much less susceptible to hacking and other types of fraud.
  • It is not wise to be overly confident – this of course isn’t really an eye-opener, and may remind one of the dangers of Hybris (ὕβρις), as much addressed in the classics. Taking a gamble does not always have a positive result and unfortunately for May the election results do not give her a stronger mandate (and may even lead to her resignation, who knows).
  • Throughout the report and on social media – especially on Twitter – doubts were raised about the legitimacy of the results of the exit poll. It seems that after 2015 belief in these polls has much reduced. Criticism was also raised by the BBC – and in particular David Dimbleby – about the quality of political discourse (during campaigns), in the UK.
  • The great differences between different social groups in the UK. Groups that differ in terms of age and income especially support different parties and cause great rifts  in the UK political landscape (now particularly marked by the juxtaposition of supporting and rejecting views of the EU). Other divides are caused by regional differences (rural vs. urban, North vs. South).
  • The UK citizens are quite possibly getting quite tired of elections. This is of course a generalisation, but this is regularly mentioned in the news reports about the GE. This makes these years, months and days especially interesting for studying the view of citizens regarding referenda and elections, in terms of their use, legitimacy and need.
  • The UKIP – UK Independence Party – which is often compared to populist parties and the rise of the extreme right in Europe, really currently isn’t as powerful and influential as we may have thought.
  • References are being made to the ‘Revenge of the Remainers’. It will be interesting to see how many Remain supporters have given up on the idea of staying in the EU and how many have moved towards Labour, Lib Dem or even the Greens. Future studies will no doubt look into this.

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