Will Britain Hang Together?

The U.K. elections this week have the country's politicians wringing their hands over the vote's probable outcome--especially the threat of a hung Parliament. Historically, Brits don't do coalitions particularly well, and with that in mind, Conservative leader David Cameron is trying to convince voters that a hung Parliament would scare away international investors and plunge Britain into economic ruin. He points to the fact that markets have indeed been skittish, with the value of the pound slumping -under doubts about whether a clear winner will emerge.

But a new report by the ratings agency Moody's says a balanced Parliament could, in fact, be the best outcome for Britain. Moody's U.K. analyst Arnaud Marès suggests that a coalition could be better placed to garner wide public support for government spending cuts--thus avoiding the kind of protests and trade-union strikes that have been plaguing efforts to fix Greece's wrecked economy. That's why Marès thinks a hung Parliament won't prompt a downgrading of Britain's AAA rating, as the Conservatives have warned. Voters certainly aren't afraid. Recent opinion polls indicate that many of them might actually -favor an election result that forces the parties to work together, instead of tearing each other apart.