Millions of Britons headed to the polls today in the closest election in a generation. At stake is control of the House of Commons and the chance to form the next government. The challenges facing the contenders are considerable: a staggering deficit (not far behind Greece as a percentage of GDP); a public sector in need of major reform; a banking system on the verge of broke and a surly electorate, weary of scandal and crying out for change. Whoever wins this race and forms a government will be admired by many, but envied by few. What will happen? Who will go to Buckingham Palace tomorrow to kiss hands and become Prime Minister? It's impossible to tell, for an inconclusive result is a real possibility for the first time since 1974. Consider the plain electoral math: 650 seats were contested today, meaning that 326 seats are needed for an overall majority. To achieve that, the Conservatives (leading in the polls) must win 116 new seats. Yet Labour will lose its current overall majority if it loses more than 24 of its current seats. Any result in between will mean a hung parliament. In other words, a swing in voter preference from 2005 of just two percent against Labour will mean that they lose their overall majority, but the Conservatives need a swing of 7 percent in their favor to win a majority. That kind of favorable swing, however, has only occurred one time in modern British history. The polls close in forty-five minutes. Fasten your seat belts or, as they say here in England, your safety belts.
UK Election Update