Britain: Wedding Bells, Then a Divorce

Wedding Bells, Then a Divorce

"Six years is long enough for an engagement. It's time for wedding bells." So said the leader of Britain's Liberal Party, David Steel, in July as he pressed for a formal merger of the Liberals and the centrist Social Democratic Party. The two political groups, which won only 22 of 650 parliamentary seats in last spring's British general election, have since 1981 formed a carefully calibrated alliance, wedged between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives and the union-backed Labor Party. Last week, after a tally of ballots mailed to the S.D.P.'s more than 58,000 members showed that 57.4% favored Steel's merger proposal,...