News, Politics

Theresa May’s Majority Becomes A Minority

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Theresa May. Image: UK Home Office
Theresa May. Image: UK Home Office

The British Prime Minister may be regretting her decision to call an early election.

Theresa May and her political party, the Conservative Party, were the leaders in the UK (United Kingdom). They had a “majority” government. (In other words, they had more “seats”—or representatives—in the House of Commons than all of the other political parties, combined.) That’s important, because having a majority means that you can really get things done—you won’t be voted down by the other parties (see definitions, below).

May hoped that by holding an election, she could expand her majority even more.

However, things didn’t go as she planned.

The voters did vote to keep her as Prime Minister but instead of a majority, she now has a minority. In other words, she lost “seats” in the House of Commons. (See definitions, below).

May didn’t have to call an election. She could have waited until 2020. However, the Conservatives were riding a wave of popularity so the timing seemed good.

Some people think that May will try to work with another, smaller, political party to create an alliance. In that way, with two parties working together, they would have more seats.

The election was held on June 8. There are 650 seats in Great Britian’s House of Commons; 326 seats are needed for a majority. In the election, May’s Conservatives got 318 seats; the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, came second with 262 seats and in third place was the SNP led by Nicola Sturgeon with 35 seats. There were other parties, who won fewer seats.

DEFINITIONS
This article includes political terms that may be confusing. Here are basic explanations of some of the terms. (Politics is more complex than these explanations, but they’re a good start.)

Political party: A “political party” is a group of people who all think the same way about things. They think the same way about how a country should be run, how it should spend its money and what is most important. Here is some information on political parties in Canada.

Seats: A “seat” in this case, means a Member of Parliament or MP. In this case, the party with the most “seats” or MPs, wins.

Majority: When a political party has more “seats” or MPs than all the other political parties, combined. This is important, because when a government wants to make a new law, the MPs vote on it. If a government has more MPs than all of the other parties, they will win the vote (unless something very unusual happens). So, a majority government can make big changes, knowing that their ideas won’t be overruled.

Great Britain, United Kingdom, The British Isles, England — here is some information on what these terms mean (article on infoplease.com) and another article on the website Historic UK.

Thanks to Kate Blair for her assistance with this article.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
May thought the timing was right to call an election. She made a gamble and it cost her. How do you make a decision to take a risk? What factors do you consider before going out on a limb? How do you react when your gambles don’t work out?

Reading Prompt: Reading Unfamiliar Words
Today’s article includes a glossary of terms to help explain certain terms. What strategies do you use to help understand new words when reading a text?

Primary
Predict the meaning of and rapidly solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues, including: semantic (meaning) cues (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, base words, phrases, sentences, and visuals that activate existing knowledge of oral and written language). (OME, Reading: 3.2).

Junior
Predict the meaning of and rapidly solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues, including: semantic (meaning) cues (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, base words, phrases, sentences, and visuals that activate existing knowledge of oral and written language). (OME, Reading: 3.2).

Intermediate
Predict the meaning of and rapidly solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues, including:semantic (meaning) cues (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, base words, phrases, sentences, and visuals that activate existing knowledge of oral and written language). (OME, Reading: 3.2).

Language Feature: Quotation marks ( ” )
Quotation marks can be used to communicate many different things to a reader. One usage is to tell the reader that a word is being used in a way that it is not normally used. For example, in today’s story, the word “seats” is encircled by quotation marks and this tells the reader, “look out, I’m using the word in a way that you might not expect!”

Write  3 sentences of your own. Afterwards place quotation marks around different words in each sentence to play with and shift the meaning of your statements.