Smaller parties win 40% of the vote but few seats in UK election

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s centrist Liberal Democrats, right-wing Reform UK, Greens and other smaller parties won more than 40% of the votes in Thursday’s election, but secured just 18% of the seats in parliament due to the country’s first-past-the-post system.

The Labour Party will form the next government after winning 63% of seats with 34% of all votes cast, according to near-complete results, more than doubling its number of seats with fewer votes than it received in the last election in 2019.

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s path to Downing Street was cleared by a collapse in the Conservative vote, which saw disaffected supporters splinter into backing the centrist Liberal Democrats and right-wing populists Reform UK.

That trend, and a lower turnout, outweighed Labour losing some of its own support to the Greens and independents over issues such as Gaza.

Reform UK, led by Nigel Farage, won more than 4 million votes but just four seats.

It pushed the Conservatives into third place or lower in scores of seats won by Labour, particularly in areas that voted leave in the 2016 EU referendum.

Farage, who won his first seat in Britain’s parliament in Clacton, said first past the post was a “very demanding problem for smaller parties”.

He said he would build a national movement over the course of the next few years and “hopefully be big enough to challenge the general election properly in 2029”.

The Liberal Democrats turned 3.49 million votes, fewer than Reform, into a record 71 seats, thanks to targeting areas where it was already the challenger to the Conservatives, mainly in southern England.

The Green party, which until now had only ever won a single seat in Brighton on England’s south coast, received 1.9 million votes. Like the Lib Dems, it targeted its campaign, and was rewarded with four seats.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Philippa Fletcher)




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