Polling starts in United Kindom's knife-edge general election

PTI | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published May 7, 2015, 6:23 pm IST
Updated Mar 29, 2019, 6:31 am IST
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and his wife Justine arrive at the polling station before voting at Sutton Village Hall, Doncaster, England. (Photo: AP)
 Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and his wife Justine arrive at the polling station before voting at Sutton Village Hall, Doncaster, England. (Photo: AP)

London: Polling on Thursday began in the UK in one of the closest general elections seen in decades with voters set to decide between the Conservatives of Prime Minister David Cameron, Ed Miliband's Labour and other smaller parties.

Polls opened at around 50,000 polling stations across the UK. A total of 650 Westminster MPs will be elected, with about 50 million people registered to vote.

As well as the general election, there are more than 9,000 council seats being contested across 279 English local authorities.

The polling booths opened at 07:00 AM (local time) and will go on till 22:00 (local time).

Mayors will also be elected in Bedford, Copeland, Leicester, Mansfield, Middlesbrough and Torbay. For the first time, people have been able to register to vote online.

Most polling stations are in schools, community centres and parish halls, a launderette and a school bus will also be used.

Read: United Kingdom votes in most unpredictable election in decades

A handful of seats are expected to be declared by midnight, with the final results expected tomorrow afternoon, BBC reported.

The British Parliament is made up of 650 seats, 533 constituencies in England, 59 in Scotland, 40 in Wales and 18 in Northern Ireland with 326 required for a majority.

In the last elections in 2010, which threw up a hung parliament, the Tories had 307 and Labour 258.

This time poll pundits are predicting an even more protracted period of discussions as no party is expected to command a clear majority following the results.

Barring tight results and numerous recounts, seats in Northumberland, Warwick and Cornwall are likely to be the last to declare early tomorrow.

Prominent among the Indian-origin candidates are some long-serving MPs like Labour's Keith Vaz, whose Leicester East seat looks pretty safe this time as well. His sister Valerie Vaz is defending her Walsall South seat.

Historically, certain constituencies have a history of being won by the party that goes on to form the next government.

They are known as bellwethers in reference to the old practice of putting a bell round the neck of a ram so that its ringing would reveal the whereabouts of the flock of sheep that followed him.

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