Irish Republican News · May 6, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Surprise exit poll indicates knife-edge election result

The result of the Westminster election is still completely unpredictable despite a major exit poll released at 10pm tonight.

The poll of voters as they left polling stations in selected British constituencies, adjusted to produce an overall result, indicates that the Conservative Party is set to win 307 seats (up 97), just 19 short of the 326 needed to claim an overall majority.

The poll also indicated that Labour would win 255 (down 94), 59 for the Liberal Democrats (down 4) and 29 for the other parties -- including the 18 returned from the constituencies in the north of Ireland-

A surprise result tonight is that the Liberal Democrats are predicted to end with less seats than in the last election in 2005. Although the exit poll in the last election five years ago was highly accurate, this prediction caused a number of political pundits to query the accuracy of the poll. The Liberal Democrats had been projected to achieve nearly twice that result in recent opinion polls.

No figures were released in terms of percentage of votes received by the parties. However, it is generally agreed that a ‘hung’ parliament is highly likely and that doubts over who is to become the next British Prime Minister and the make-up of a possible coalition goverment could linger for several days.

The exit poll also indicates a cleae possibility that unionists in Ulster, the SNP and/or the far-left Respect party could lay a role in the final outcome following the conclusion of counting tomorrow.

In particular, the Conservative leader David Cameron might find that winning one or two seats in the Six Counties and forming a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party could just be enough to give him a majority. An ‘Orange Card’ deal with the DUP could prove fatal to the political process in the North and the recently negotiated Hillsborough Agreement.

There were also reports, as the polls were closing at 10pm, of long queues of people still waiting to vote in some parts of the country. In Sheffield in the north of England, some voters were reported to have been turned away from the polls.

Voting in one constituency has also been delayed until 27 May because of the death of one of the candidates during the campaign. The exit poll assumes the Conservatives will win here.

First indicative results should be available within the next couple of hours. Results from the North of Ireland are expected to become available around 3am.

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