Our Nail-Biter

The presidential race was a nail-biter. Or at least it was if one followed it hour-by-hour or even day-by-day as so many did. But now when it is clear that one candidate got 5.5 million more votes than the other and is entitled to more than seventy more electoral votes than the other, it does not seem particularly close. A “landslide” some might say. The “people” have spoken decisively, but, as we have commented often in this forum, the people as a whole do not elect the president. Instead, we elect the chief executive by states, and as we are aware from recent history, a person can become president even when receiving fewer total votes than an opponent. For at least part of the time over the last two weeks, it seemed that the minority candidate (irony intended) would become president again. I was curious about how the “people” would react to having a president that the voters had rejected by even a greater margin than last time but was relieved that I did not find out. But it also made me wonder how others react when a similar thing happens in their country, for example, Great Britain.

Of course, the UK has a governmental structure different from ours. My knowledge of their parliamentary system is admittedly incomplete (I have only watched the first season of The Crown), but it is my understanding that the candidates for Prime Minister do not appear on the ballot, as the U.S. presidential candidates do. Instead, the electorate in each district votes for a member of the House of Commons, and the leader of the political party that gets the most members elected to the House becomes the Prime Minister. There may be no nationwide tally for the Prime Minister’s race as there is in America, but even so, something similar to what can and does happen here must occur there—the election of a chief executive whose opponent won the nationwide vote. If, for example, the Tories win a 51% majority in the bare majority of districts, their leader becomes Prime Minister even if the opponent got 60% of the votes in all the other districts and, thus, got more votes than the Tory throughout the country. It is not exaclty like our troublesome electoral college, but is similar to our recent elections where the candidate getting fewer countrywide votes has become president. How have the British reacted to this?