British Elections

Europe's Most Political Baby

Princess DPA
Could the birth of a princess swing the election?
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If polls are to be believed, Britain will face a hung parliament and months of uncertainty after its general elections.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Britain votes in a general election on May 7.
    • The YouGov polls on May 4 show Conservatives and Labour neck and neck with 33 percent of the votes each.
    • Prince William’s wife Kate gave birth to a daughter on Saturday, May 2.
  • Audio

    Audio

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The world’s newest princess held her first press conference in London at the weekend, just six days before the country her great-grandmother reigns over holds what is looking like the closest run election in living memory.

Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana slept while her parents Prince William and his wife Kate, smiled wordlessly at the cameras Saturday afternoon as they left the hospital where she had been born just a few hours earlier.

The British royal family are strictly political neutral: they never express an opinion on party politics. Queen Elizabeth II and her family never vote or run for political office. But polls indicate that the British election on Thursday will be so nail-bitingly close that every tiny thing, from a royal birth to a burst of sunshine, could sway the final results.

Traditional political thinking suggests that major royal events boost the center-right Conservative party, currently in power with the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives are traditional, pro-royal and stand for continuity and stability. Labour voters are more likely to question the amount of tax payer money spent on the royal family, and suggest that inherited privilege is not something to be applauded.

But this time round, the situation is not so simple. The polls do not show any immediate royal impact. The latest polls carried out by YouGov on May 4 show Conservatives and Labour at a dead heat with 33 percent of the votes each. If anything, Labour support has risen in the last week slightly. Labour leader Ed Miliband, who had started the campaign looking awkward, has become more statesmanlike.

The idea that Conservatives somehow stand for stability is also changing. David Cameron has promised to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union if he wins. This is triggering a wave of anxiety in the business community, which has traditionally prefered the light regulation and low taxation regimes of center-right governments.

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