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UK Greens win historic first seat in parliament

Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, won a hotly-contested race in Brighton Pavilion to become the Greens’ first-ever member of parliament. Lucas thanked supporters for “putting the politics of hope above the politics of fear.” In the election at large, Labour and the Liberal Democrats lost seats while the Conservatives gained; however, the Conservatives failed to win a majority, making it possible that Labour and the Liberal Democrats will form a governing coalition.

In the second constituency targeted by the Greens, Norwich South, Adrian Ramsay came in fourth despite doubling the Green vote from 2005 to 14.9%. Despite the loss, Greens pointed to recent local victories as evidence that they’re on track to take power in Norwich by 2011, which would mark another first for the party. In the third targeted seat, Lewisham Deptford, Darren Johnson took 11.1%, and Tony Juniper managed 7.6% in Cambridge.

At The Guardian, George Monbiot commented on Lucas’ election to parliament:

It’s a massive breakthrough, not only because she’s a brilliant, charismatic, humane politican who will enrich parliamentary life, but also because it proves it can be done, even under our antiquated political system.

Unlike many European countries that elect their parliaments using proportional representation, UK elections use first-past-the-post voting, contributing to electoral chaos. From The Guardian’s live election coverage:

A hung parliament is virtually inevitable. With more than 500 seats counted, the BBC is predicting that the Conservatives will end up with 306 seats, Labour 262 seats and the Lib Dems 55 seats [325 seats are needed for a majority]. The Conservatives are currently on 37% of the vote, Labour on 28% and the Lib Dems on 23%.

The Guardian reports that the Liberal Democrats may demand a switch to proportional representation as a condition for supporting one of the larger parties in coalition. The Greens, who won 8.7% of the vote in last year’s European elections, also support proportional representation.

After learning of her historic victory, Caroline Lucas gave the following statement:

“The emphatic support of voters in Brighton Pavilion show that they do want to support a party whose values represent fairness, social justice and environmental well-being. They have shown that they are prepared to put their trust in the Greens, despite the overwhelming national media focus on the three largest parties and a voting system that is fundamentally undemocratic. I feel humbled by their trust in me, and I am excited by this vote of confidence and I’m looking forward to the challenging task of fully representing the voters of Brighton.

“This victory is no accident: it is the result of the hard work and commitment of thousands of Green Party members and supporters not only in Brighton but from right across the country over the past months and years. It is their work and support that has helped deliver this win, and the victory is as much theirs as it is mine.

“Thanks to the confidence that the voters of Brighton Pavilion have shown, Green principles and policies will now have a voice in Parliament. Policies such as responding to climate change with a million new ‘green’ jobs in low-carbon industries, fair pensions and care for older people, and stronger regulation of the banks will be heard in the House of Commons. I will also use my influence as an MP in the city of Brighton & Hove to push for affordable housing for the city, a new secondary school for the city, and greater backing for the city’s creative industries.

“Finally, as this election shows, the first-past-the post voting system used for general elections is utterly discredited. I will be strongly backing calls for a referendum to replace it with a form of proportional representation that properly reflects the needs and views of 21st century voters. If a form of proportional representation is introduced, the Green Party is confident that its true level of support nationally can be represented properly.”

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Green Party policies most popular in massive UK online poll

With the United Kingdom set to elect a new parliament on May 6th, the UK Green Party has something to be encouraged about: Green Party policies are the most popular of the six largest British parties in an online survey that matches respondents’ views to party platforms. Currently, Green policies have 25% support from over 224,000 respondents at Vote For Policies.

The UK Green Party is aiming to win its first seat in parliament this year. Caroline Lucas, the party’s leader and member of European parliament, is favored to win in Brighton Pavilion. Adrian Ramsay in Norwich South and Darren Johnson in Lewisham Deptford are also considered to be in the running for parliamentary seats. Tony Juniper in Cambridge has also climbed in recent polls.

Unlike many other European countries, the United Kingdom doesn’t have proportional representation. Rather, members of parliament are elected using first-past-the-post, the same system used for the US Congress (although the UK doesn’t suffer from anti-competitive ballot access laws of the kind that plague the US). There are hopes that this may change if neither of the traditional two big parties, the Conservatives and Labour, wins a majority in parliament. The Liberal Democrats, Britain’s third largest party, have a chance to make up the balance of power, and they may demand a switch to proportional representation as a condition of their support for a coalition government.

Best of luck to the UK Greens from your mates across the pond!

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UK Green Party fields record number of candidates for 2010 election

From Helene Mulholland at The Guardian:

The Green party is fielding a record number of candidates at the general election amid hopes it will win its first parliamentary seat.

The party is hoping to gain from voter disaffection with mainstream parties following the expenses scandal, campaigning under the slogan: “Fair is worth fighting for.”

More than 300 Green candidates will contest seats throughout the country – including a full slate in London, where the party is represented on the capital’s assembly by Darren Johnson and Jenny Jones. Continue Reading