Conservative party suffers losses in U.K. elections

British Prime Minister David Cameron walks hand-in-hand with his wife Samantha as he leaves a polling station in London on May 3, 2012, after casting his vote in the local elections.

Jeremy Hobson: There could be some big political changes this weekend in Europe with big consequences for the global economy. Voters in both France and Greece will go to the polls and the expectation is that they'll be in a bit of an anti-austerity mood. One clue came yesterday in the U.K. where voters delivered big losses to the ruling Conservative party.

Marketplace's Stephen Beard reports from London.


Stephen Beard: When it came to power two years ago, the current British government put austerity at the top of its agenda. It argued that if the public debt was not reduced Britain might suffer the same fate as countries in the eurozone like Greece, Portugal and Ireland. The U.K. embarked on a comprehensive series of budget cuts.

But today there are clear signs of a backlash. The economy has slipped back into recession. And in local elections across the country yesterday voters punished the government.

Simon Tilford of the Centre for European Reform says it’s a obvious warning signal:

Simon Tilford: I strongly think that by the time of the next election if the government adheres to the current economic strategy then they will pay a heavy price. I think by the time of the next parliamentary election people will have become very jaundiced with austerity.

People are certainly jaundiced with austerity in France and Greece. National elections there this weekend are expected to deliver another resounding vote against budget cuts.

In London, I’m Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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