David Cameron’s Conservative Party will fall just seventeen seats short of a parliamentary majority, according to a joint poll conducted by major UK broadcasters.
The Conservatives are set to win almost a hundred more seats than they gained in 2005, possibly up to 305. Labour would have 255 while the Liberal Democrats, in spite of building unprecedented momentum in the run-up to Thursday’s elections, are likely to actually lose a seat, down to 61.
There are several reasons to question the reliability of the polls. At the Financial Times, Alex Barker notes, among other things, that one out of five voters refuse to respond to exit polls while one of our five votes are cast by mail and therefore not accounted for.
In a brief statement to the press, Conservative leader and possible future prime minister David Cameron declared, “This is a decisive rejection of Labour. We can govern with this result.”
Although polls closed across the country at ten o’clock in the evening, people were still queuing up to cast their vote at least in the districts of Leeds, Sheffield, Sutton Coldfield and Newcastle, according to the BBC. Sky News reported that polling stations in Newcastle upon Tyne and Wallsend were allowed to stay open until everyone had voted.
With such an impressive gain, it seems unlikely that the Conservatives will attempt to come to a coalition with the liberals. They might be able to achieve majority with some of the smaller political parties, like Northern Ireland’s Unionists. Notably, Labour and the Liberal Democrats don’t hold a majority either, ruling out the possibility of another Gordon Brown government.
In either event, the election results will likely stir further discussion about the future of Britain’s antiquated voting system which currently denies minority parties, the Liberal Democrats included, proportionate representation in Parliament.