[World News] Cameron on the cusp?

Britain’s election:

David Cameron and the Conservatives see most reason to smile at Britain’s general election

ONLY a few dozen of Britain’s 650 parliamentary constituencies have declared, but David Cameron looks increasingly likely to replace Gordon Brown as prime minister. His Conservatives have made some predictable gains, such as the south London seat of Battersea, and some dramatic ones, notably Kingswood in the west of England. The electoral swing towards them in many constituencies (even some they have lost) is bigger than the 6.9% required nationally to win an overall majority in Parliament.

However, the Tory swing has varied enormously across the country. It has been as high as 12% in Washington and Sunderland West, in the north-east of England, but quite meagre in places such as Tooting in London. While Labour spokesmen are barely disguising their bleak mood (David Blunkett, the former home secretary, says it becoming clear that his party has lost) it remains far from evident that the Tories will win an absolute majority in the House of Commons.

Meanwhile, the exit poll that predicted a disappointing night for the Liberal Democrats is also beginning to look prescient. The third party is performing well in its traditional south-western power base but there has been little of the expected Lib Dem surge elsewhere. In Wales, too, the Conservatives have done well, not least at Lib Dem expense.

The first few hours of this election night have been eventful in other ways. In Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson, the first minister of the province and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, was evicted from his east Belfast seat in an historic first triumph for the non-sectarian Alliance party. Worryingly, there are also signs of electoral irregularities across the country. Many voters, it seems, have been turned away by polling stations struggling to cope with the sheer weight of turnout. The Electoral Commission, an independent body that monitors the voting system, has expressed grave concerns.

Our election map of Britain continues to show the story. The Economist


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