Local elections test for majority of Rishi Sunak in UK

Voters are being called to the polls Thursday in England for a test local election for the ruling Conservatives, ahead of legislative elections scheduled for next year which promise to be tough for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s party. More than 8,000 seats are at stake in 230 local authorities across England during this election which introduces an unprecedented requirement, that of presenting an identity document to be able to vote.

This change is creating a stir and has been denounced by its opponents as a threat to democracy because of the number of voters who risk being excluded, the French national identity card not existing. In the ranks of Labor, some MPs denounce a decision intended to counter the advance which is theirs, according to the polls.

These elections, whose turnout is traditionally low, are the first for Rishi Sunak, who came to power at the end of October after the succession of scandals of the Boris Johnson era and the chaotic 49 days of Liz Truss in Downing Street. Rishi Sunak does not expect miracles. “We always said it would be a tough election for us,” the prime minister said on Wednesday, citing among his promises to patch more potholes, a scourge on Britain’s roads.

“Broken”, “mess”, “bazaar”…

According to pollster John Curtice, a political scientist at Scotland’s University of Strathclyde, a Labor lead of more than 10 points over the Conservatives bodes well for an opposition victory in the general election due to be held by end of next year. Their date is not yet fixed. Before coming to power in 1997 and 2010 respectively, Labor Tony Blair and Conservative David Cameron both had successes with double-digit leads in local elections ahead of the general election, John Curtice told the BBC.

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During their last face-to-face in Parliament on Wednesday before the election, the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, attacked the Conservatives, in power for thirteen years. He spoke of the nearly two million Britons who will have to pay more for their loan because Rishi Sunak’s party “used their money like a casino”, in reference to the consequences of the risky financial decisions of Liz Truss which caused a jump interest rates. In response, Rishi Sunak pitted Labour’s “higher local taxes” and “broken promises” against him.

Opinion polls show that voters are mainly concerned about inflation, which has exceeded 10% for months, and the crisis in the public health system, hit by repeated strikes, and in particular an unprecedented movement of nurses . The most unfavorable polls predict a loss of 1,000 seats for the Conservatives. The latter believe that a decline below a thousand seats would be equivalent to a victory. The results are expected very gradually over the day on Friday, on the eve of the coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey.

The voters assembled in a “focus group”, a discussion group intended to gauge the mood of public opinion, delivered a scathing verdict on the conservatives, although Rishi Sunak is doing a little better personally. Asked by the think tank “More in Common” to describe the state of the country in one word, participants cited “broken”, “mess”, “mess”, “difficulties” and “crisis”. .

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