Because one has been so focused on the escalation of the threat to Pakistan from the US, the British general election has gone by almost unnoticed, beyond the coverage in the Pakistan media of the Muslims who have been elected to the Parliament this time round. What has not been mentioned is that while this number has risen, so has the number of the defeated Muslim candidates. The point is that this time round all the major Parties in Britain put up candidates from the minority ethnic groups and the choice was more on ethnicity than religion and reflected the rising population of second and third generation of migrant offsprings in Britain. Since some constituencies comprise large populations of these people, it makes electoral sense to have candidates from amongst them. Interestingly, in some cases, the victors and losers both belonged to the same community Only a few non-Anglo Saxon candidates were successful against white candidates. So the mainstreaming of the non-Anglo Saxons in the British electoral process has only just begun. It would also bode well for Pakistan to realise that second and third generation Britishers whose families originate from Pakistan naturally and rightly owe their loyalty to Britain and not to Pakistan, and many have a British understanding of Pakistan - so expectations sho-uld be realistic. Yet this election has been interesting for a number of other reasons also, not least of it being the inability of any Party to gain a clear majority. This has resulted in a hung Parliament and the inability of the major parties to form a government. Ironically, the British have always tended to stick to their First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) electoral system, despite the democratic distortions it brings, because they have felt this system allows for a strong two-party system with a stable and strong government which does not rely on coalitions. Of course, the Brits point to Italys constant change of governments as reflective of the failings of the Proportional Representation (PR) system but fail to see the stable PR systems operational in the prosperous countries of Northern Europe Yet, in their heart of hearts, the British have recognised the failings of this system where a candidate can be declared successful as long as he/she gets more votes than any of the other candidates regardless of the fact that the overall vote cast may have gone against him/her. That is why the British have been moving to various forms of Proportional Representation (PR) in their devolved assemblies of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland as well as in elections to the EU Parliament and the Mayors election in London. But somehow, in typical British fashion, they are unable to let go off the FPTP system for the Westminster Parliament. However, the Lib Dem Party has had Proportional Representation and a change in the General Election mode as part of its Electoral Manifesto - which is one reason why the Conservatives are having a tough time striking a coalition deal with them to form a government. The Brits have a strange fascination with sustaining themselves on myths and this is also reflected in their belief that the British Constitution is still an unwritten document based on tradition and precedents. While the myth may still be true to some extent, the fact of the matter is that over the twentieth century especially, there are an increasing number of legislative developments that have given a partial written form to the British Constitution, thereby also limiting the sovereignty of the British Parliament. The most intrusive measures in this regard are those arising out of the EU Membership even though the Brits continue to hold out on joining the single currency. So there we have a Britain without a new government and with plenty of horse-trading going on to form a coalition - each of the two major parties, Labour and Conservatives wooing the Lib Dems. Suddenly the third force has become a critical factor in the power equation But unlike in Pakistan where horse-trading is all about persons and self interest, let us give the British political leadership its due, they are talking issues. So we have the Conservative leader Cam-eron unable to swing a deal so far with the Lib Dems partly because of their commitment to reforming the British electoral system and bringing in PR for the Westminster Parliamentary elections. The right wing of the Conservative Party will have none of it. Of course, bargaining over ministries is also part of the horse-trading but it is fairly clear that it is issues that are causing the delay in a coalition agreement. Meanwhile, Labours Gordon Brown has stated his intent of resigning as prime minister, a point demanded by the Lib Dems for a possible coalition agreement. Brown has already stepped down from the Chairmanship of the Party - a position now being filled by Miliband, which gives one nightmares thinking that a new Tony Blair model may be emerging once again in the Labour Party. Blair had effectively moved Britain to a more Presidential-type style of governance, Westminster notwithstanding. Even today the Parliamentary system has had to concede ground to a more presidential-like system where the party leaders are the focal point of elections. The election debates were yet another step in that direction. Of course, for Labour to stay in power will require more than a coalition with the Lib Dems alone. They would need more numbers and that is problematic for them. Even though the Scots have once again shown their intense dislike for the Conservative Party, the Scottish Nationalists are competing against Labour in Scotland so they would have to think hard before joining Labour in London Ironically, the policy issues delaying the formation of a coalition British government comes at a time when the two major parties (Labour and Conservatives) have been moving close to each other on most issues (including crime and social services) with Blair and then Brown having moved Labour away from its left, socialist foundations and Came-ron having moved the Party away from its extreme right-wing Thatcherite days and more towards the Centre. The left and right wings in each party have been marginalised but may now gain a fresh breath of life in the coalition bargaining. Certainly, the criticality of the Lib Dems and its leader Clegg may be the only way there may be major policy changes in Britain. Finally, just how outmoded the British electoral mechanics are and how the Brits insist on clinging on to these, became evident in the number of people who had to be turned back because the time for casting their votes had gone by and the long lines could not be accommodated at some centres - or, even more ridiculous, some centres simply ran out of ballot papers And if anyone is wondering why there is no governance chaos or standstill in Britain amongst all this political uncertainty, it is the powerful but nameless and faceless bureaucracy that keeps the system going while the politicians sort themselves out. How does it all matter to Pakistan? Not at all, except if our political elite can draw some crucial lessons from all that is happening in Britain - from coalitions built on issues to resignations at the top after electoral failure of the party. That will not happen but one lives in eternal hope