Across the Pond

Brown Expected to Call British Elections

Who says Queen Elizabeth II is powerless? She could have a role to play in her country’s future. If the British papers are right, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will soon head to Buckingham Palace, now that the Easter holidays are over, to ask the queen permission to hold elections May 6. Brown is expected to hold on to his job, but his Labour Party may lose enough seats to result in a hung parliament. If no party can immediately form a government, the queen could have a key role—she could urge Britain’s parties to resist calling a second vote if it’s not in the national interest or wouldn’t have a different result. Usually, a prime minister takes office within six days, but new proposals would allow three weeks for the P.M. to negotiate with minority parties to form a government, which would avoid a constitutional crisis.