WATCH ABOVE: Global National’s Stuart Greer heads to vote in the U.K. election, which is expected to be one of the closest in decades.
Polls are closed in the United Kingdom, in a general election that has become a very tight race.
Here’s what you need to know about the vote.
When does the election happen?
Polls opened Thursday morning at 7 a.m. GMT (2 a.m. ET/ 11 p.m. PT Wednesday) and closed at 10 p.m. GMT (5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT).
Who’s running for prime minister?
- David Cameron (Conservative Party)
- Ed Miliband (Labour Party)
- Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats)
- Nigel Farage (UK Independence Party or UKIP)
- Caroline Lucas (Green Party)
What’s needed to win?
There are 650 seats in the British House of Commons and 326 of those are needed to win a majority.
When are results expected?
Votes from the 50,000 polling stations will be tallied once polls close at 10 p.m. and throughout the rest night into Friday. If there’s a repeat of the 2010 election, in which David Cameron and the Conservative Party won a majority of votes but not enough to form a government, the U.K could wind up with another hung parliament and it could be days of coalition negotiations before a government is formed.
Here’s how the British parliament explains a hung parliament:
“The previous government might remain in position whilst there is a period of negotiation to build a coalition, or they might decide to try and govern with a minority of Members of Parliament.
“If the incumbent government is unable to command a majority and decides to resign, the leader of the largest opposition party may be invited to form a government and may do so either as a minority or in coalition with another party or parties.”
What do the pollsters say about the expected results?
Heading into Thursday’s vote, BBC puts the Conservative Party and Labour neck-and-neck, with the Tories getting the intended support of 34 per cent of U.K. voters compared to 33 per cent for Labour.
If accurate, UKIP would come in third with 13 per cent support, the Liberal Democrats would earn 8 per cent of the vote and the Greens at 6 per cent.
A Guardian/ICM poll shows the same horse race, but the Conservatives and Labour tied at 35 per cent of intended support. But, that’s a three percentage-point gain for Labour from poll results released April 27.
The next three spots remain in the same order, but the Guardian/ICM poll shows UKIP with 11 per cent support, the Liberal Democrats with 9 per cent and the Greens with 3 per cent. UKIP and the Green Party each dropped two percentage points from the April 27 results, contributing to Labour’s gain.
Are there any parties that could contribute to an upset?
None of the parties have enough nationwide support to form a government, but many eyes are on the Scottish National Party (SNP). The general election comes just less than eight months since the SNP lost a referendum on Scottish independence. Now, the SNP, under leader Nicola Sturgeon, is hoping to sweep most of the 59 Scottish seats in Parliament.
“With the Conservatives and Labour running neck-and-neck in polls, the SNP could be the king-maker in a hung parliament,” Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Adversaries Labour and the Conservatives are at odds over Cameron’s plans to hold a referendum on pulling out of the European Union, and Labour leader Ed Miliband has indicated he would not form a coalition with the Tories if that’s on the table. That means Labour may need the SNP to form a new government.
The Guardian reported opinion polls “suggested Miliband would be unable to form a government without the support of Nicola Sturgeon’s party.”
But, Miliband has said he wouldn’t team up with the SNP if the Liberal Democrats earn the most votes, but the election ends up in a hung parliament.
“I am not going to sacrifice the future of our country, the unity of our country,” the Guardian reported Miliband saying.