UK Reform Vote Now Depends On Uncertain Election Result

April 9, 2010, midnight

British Prime Minister Gordon BROWN on Thursday promised far-reaching electoral reforms if voters return his Labour Party to power, but critics say the promise is too little too late. Spokespeople for the Liberal Democrats, the UK's third largest party, and major electoral reform groups argue BROWN should have sought legislation authorizing a promised 2011 referendum before calling elections scheduled for May 6. Some media have reported that the pledge is meant to woo Liberal Democrats into a coalition government in the event that voters seat a hung Parliament. BROWN'S proposals include switching from plurality elections to the Alternative Vote, mandating fixed four-year terms for Members of Parliament, replacing the House of Lords with an elected Senate, and formalizing the British constitution. The Conservative Party opposes said changes, opting instead for reform of boundary delimitation rules. Next month's election is likely to be the UK's most competitive since 1992, with opinion polls suggesting no clear winner.

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