What will happen in today’s elections? Your thoughts, please…

by Stephen Tall on May 5, 2011

Today, in case you hadn’t noticed, is election day. There are national elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and local elections for 279 councils across England. And of course there’s the referendum to determine the voting system used for elections to Westminster.

Four years ago, in 2007, the Liberal Democrats were a party of opposition. Today, we’re in a Coalition government. Let’s recap the starting positions…

Scotland: the party is defending 16 seats (11 constituency MSPs, and five regional list MSPs), which was a drop of one compared to 2003. There are 129 contested seats for the Scottish parliament.

Wales: the party is defending six seats (3 constituency AMs, and three regional list AMs), which was the same as in 2003. There are 60 contested seats for the Welsh assembly.

English local elections: the party is defending more than 1,800 seats, a little under half the party’s total number of councillors of 3,900. Four years ago, the Lib Dems lost almost 250 seats and control of four councils in what I described at the time (here and here) as a mixed set of results. The ALDC website will be keeping tally of the results here.

You can read John Curtice’s assessment in The Independent of the Lib Dems’ hopes/fears here, in which it’s estimated the party will face “serious losses” of councillors — with the party reckoning it could be up to 600 — and lose half the 22 councils we are defending.

National projected share of the vote: in 2007, the Lib Dems scored an estimated 26%, just behind Labour on 27%, with the Tories at 40%. In the latest ICM poll, the Lib Dems were at 15%. Traditionally the party has exceeded its poll ratings in local elections thanks to the campaigning efforts of our supporters. We will see in a few hours whether that trend can be sustained in government.

Until then, here are a few questions to consider:

  • What impact will the Coalition have on support for the party — UK-wide, and in particular areas?
  • Will some Lib Dem supporters switch direct to another party, or will they simply stay at home?
  • Will there be a north/south divide, with support for the Lib Dems holding up in southern parts of England but falling in the north and Scotland and Wales?
  • Will there be heavy Lib Dems losses where we have MPs — and what effect will this have on support for the Coaltion among those MPs?
  • Where will the Lib Dems buck the trend, and pick up seats?

Please share your thoughts and predictions, below…