Thursday, 7 May 2015

#UKDecides: #Britons Vote in Most Unpredictable #UK #Election in Decades

Neither David Cameron’s Conservatives nor Ed Miliband’s Labour expected to win majority of seats

Voters in Britain were casting their ballots on Thursday in the country’s most unpredictable national election in more than two decades.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing off against Ed Miliband, leader of the center-left Labour Party, and pollsters say the outcome of the vote is too close to call. Opinion polls suggest that neither party is likely to win a majority of seats as voters defect to newly popular fringe parties.

With no clear winner expected, Friday could kick off days of political negotiations with smaller parties that would determine the country’s next leader.

The stakes are high: If Mr. Cameron’s center-right Conservative Party wins, the party will deliver a referendum on whether the U.K. should leave the European Union. Alternatively, a Labour government would likely rely on support from the Scottish National Party, which could use its leverage to argue for greater autonomy for Scotland.

The vote caps five weeks of intense campaigning, during which neither party was able to move the dial on opinion polls. The campaign has been at times bare knuckles, with senior figures in both parties launching sometimes personal attacks on the candidates.

YouGov PLC, in a poll published Thursday, showed the Conservatives and Labour are tied at 34% support.

The Conservatives are forecast to win the most seats because of Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system, where the candidate with the most votes in the constituency wins and the rest of the votes are disregarded, and are likely to claim that gives them a mandate to continue to lead the U.K. for the next five years.

But Mr. Miliband could be in a position to argue he has a bigger mandate, by drawing on the support of like-minded parties. Such a scenario would be legal and has happened before in the U.K.

Mr. Cameron and Mr. Miliband cast their votes in their constituencies Thursday morning. Mr. Cameron, in a message from his Twitter account, said he voted Conservative so everyone could “have security whatever stage of life they are at.”

A message from Mr. Miliband’s Twitter account said: “Today isn’t a day to vote simply for Labour but to vote for yourself and for your family.”

The Conservatives have centered their campaign on their economic record, highlighting the U.K.’s recovery under their watch and accusing the previous Labour government of irresponsible spending.

Mr. Miliband, on the other hand, has sought to position his party as one that will fight for the working class, particularly at a time that prices have risen faster than wages. The party has also promised to protect the country’s beloved state-funded health service, an area where voters trust the Conservatives less.

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