Polls Close In What Could Be Britain's Closest Elections In Decades
Millions of Britons have voted in what is expected to be the closest general elections in decades.
Polls closed at 10 p.m. local time (5 p.m. ET) and the first results were expected in a few hours. Final results should be clear by Friday.
The first exit poll showed Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives falling just short of a majority in Parliament. Opinion polls ahead of the election predicted a neck-and-neck battle between the Conservatives and the Labour Party led by Ed Miliband.
NPR's Ari Shapiro says often these general elections are popularity contests.
"This one is closer to an unpopularity contest," Ari reports. "The campaigning is negative, and the candidates are not exactly compelling."
Case in point, take what Andy Emptage told Ari at a pub in central London: "I find Mr. Miliband a bit weird. And Mr. Cameron, I suppose, is a bit weird as well."
Either way, we'll keep tabs on the results. Refresh this page to see the latest.
Update at 5:15 p.m. ET Exit Polls Show Conservatives Ahead
An exit poll conducted by NOP/MORI for the BBC/ITV and Sky show Cameron's Conservatives with 316 seats, short of the 326 needed in Britain's first-past-the-post system. Labour has 239 seats, according to the poll.
The Liberal Democrats will get 10, the Scottish National Party 58 and the U.K. Independence Party and the Greens two each.
The results, if they hold, would be a massive boost to Cameron. Polls in the run up to the elections had shown the Conservatives and Labour running neck and neck.
Update at 5 p.m. ET Polls Close
The polls have now closed in Britain. Results from the first constituencies are expected in a few hours. Final results should be known by Friday.
Update at 7:52 a.m. ET. How Close?
Latest ICM poll (03 - 06 May):— Britain Elects (@BritainElects) May 7, 2015
LAB - 35% (-)
CON - 34% (-1)
UKIP - 11% (-)
LDEM - 9% (-)
GRN - 4% (+1)
Latest Ashcroft poll (05 - 06 May):— Britain Elects (@BritainElects) May 7, 2015
CON - 33% (+1)
LAB - 33% (+3)
UKIP - 11% (-1)
LDEM - 10% (-1)
GRN - 6% (-1)
Latest Ipsos-MORI poll:— Britain Elects (@BritainElects) May 7, 2015
CON - 36% (+1)
LAB - 35% (+5)
UKIP - 11% (+1)
LDEM - 8% (-)
GRN - 5% (-3)
Latest Populus poll (05 - 07 May):— Britain Elects (@BritainElects) May 7, 2015
CON - 33% (-1)
LAB - 33% (-1)
UKIP - 14% (+1)
LDEM - 10% (-)
GRN - 5% (-)
So, how close an election are we talking about? Via Britain Elects, here are the latest poll numbers:
Update at 7:49 a.m. ET. Some Background:
Last night, Krishnadev put together a bit of background looking forward to the voting. Here's a bit from that post:
"The latest polls show the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party . Voters will pick representatives to the country's 650-seat Parliament. The first party that gets a majority – in this case 326 seats – wins. But neither the Conservatives nor Labour is expected to reach that mark on its own. That's where smaller parties come in.
"The Liberal-Democrats, who played kingmakers in the last election by joining a coalition government with the Conservatives, have lost support. The Scottish National Party (SNP), on the other hand, is expected to make significant gains and could play an important role in determining who governs Britain next. Smaller parties, including the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the Greens, could make gains as well."
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