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Exit polls make Tories largest party

NEWS
Exit polls make Tories largest party
Tories just short of majority

Thursday, May 6, 2010

••• Britain’s Conservative party is on the brink of claiming back power from Labour in the U .K., based on a major exit poll of voters which predicts a hung parliament.

The joint Sky News/BBC/ITV poll predicted a hung parliament would be the key result from the tightly fought general election, with the Tories falling short of securing the 326 seats they need to form a majority government after 13 years in opposition.

The poll predicted the Tories would have the most MPs in the House of Commons – 307, up 97 on the number elected at the last election in 2005.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s ruling Labour party stood to have 255 MPs, down 94.

The Liberal Democrats, who had enjoyed a surge in popularity during the four-week campaign, would have 59 seats, down four, while 29 seats would go to other minor parties and independents.

While exit polls have a shaky record at predicting accurate election results, if this one proved correct Tory leader David Cameron could lead a minority government.

Even if Labour did a deal with the Lib Dems, such a coalition would still only have 314 MPs and fall short of being able to form a majority government.

If a hung parliament is the outcome of the election, it will only be the first time since 1974 that such a result has been seen in Britain.

Voter turnout was expected to be high across the country in what has been the U.K.’s tightest election battle in decades.
Labour and Tory officials treated the exit poll results with caution, noting that polling booths had closed at 10:00 pm BST (05:00 EDT) just as the poll was being released.

Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove said while the poll suggested a strong vote for change, ‘a degree of humility’ was needed at this stage.

‘Exit polls in the past have given us rouge results and we need to treat it with caution,’ he told BBC One.

Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman said it was to early to say what the election result would be.

‘It’s obviously going to be very close,’ she told BBC One.

‘But I think what’s clear is the country needs a strong and stable government to take us through the recession.’

The Lib Dems deputy leader Vince Cable described the exit poll result as ‘very strange’ and noted such polls had been ‘horribly wrong’ in the past.

The Tories led opinion polls carried out throughout the campaign, with Labour and the Lib Dems jostling in second and third places in terms of the popular vote.

However, the complexities of Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system mean that having the biggest share of the popular vote does not necessarily translate into having the most seats.

The exit poll based on surveys of voters at 130 polling stations across Britain by NOP and Mori.

Despite the uncertainty, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – a known supporter of Cameron – said on his Twitter feed he’d already called the Tory leader to congratulate him.
‘Just called @davidcameron to congratulate him on the victory. Even though results aren’t in we know the Conservatives had a great day,’ @Schwarzenegger wrote.

• Source(s): Sky News / BskyB / News Corp.

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