Will Britain’s most unpredictable ever general election be a game-changer?

By Larry Neild Source:Global Times Published: 2015-5-5 23:43:01

Britons will on Friday celebrate the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis at the end of WWII. 24 hours before Victory in Europe festivities commence, a new "Battle of Britain" will be played out in all four corners of the UK at the general election.

Thursday's election might be the most decisive, and unpredictable, since the end of WWII in 1945, according to some analysts.

For many observers, one thing is certain, the man walking through the doors of 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister will be either the present incumbent, Conservative David Cameron or the current leader of the official opposition, Labour's Ed Miliband.

What is uncertain will be the structure of government British people wake up to on Friday after the votes in 650 parliamentary constituencies have been counted.

England has 523 constituencies, Scotland 59, Wales 40 and Northern Ireland 18, meaning the party winning 326 seats will win an outright majority.

Even the most astute political groupies are unable to offer an educated guess on the outcome of this year's election.

The Conservative and Labour are more or less neck-and-neck in the final few days before polling starts at 7 am local time on May 7.

Despite party leaders insisting deals won't be struck with minority parties, the expectation is neither of the big two will reach that golden target of 326 seats. Inevitably deals will be struck, and a flurry of behind-the-scenes negotiations will take place between party managers away from the gaze of a news-hungry media spotlight.

The make-up of the last parliament was Conservative 302, its coalition partner Liberal Democrats 56, Labour 256, others 36.

Among the smaller parties, the Scottish National Party currently run the separate Scottish Parliament, though it only has six Members of Parliament at Westminster, against Labour's 40, with the Conservatives holding just one parliamentary seat north of Hadrian's Wall, separating the two regions.

The anti-Europe United Kingdom Independence Party is expected to pick up tens of thousands of votes from people disaffected from the big three parties, though it is not expected to translate into more than a handful of gains. That's because of Britain's first-past-the-post system which takes no account of the percentage of votes gathered by individual parties. But with coalitions looking to be a feature of future governments, the electoral system may see changes, despite the failed effort made by the Liberal Democrats to do so under the last administration.

The author is a writer with the Xinhua News Agency. The article first appeared in Xinhua. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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