Britain's political leaders gear up for general election

12-29 Xinhua

LONDON, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of polling stations in Britain will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, and the political leaders of the country are ready for the general election process.

The 46 million voters in Britain will be handed slips of paper containing the names of candidates in their respective constituencies, and some of them have already voted via postal votes, waiting to be added to the final toll.

The Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Labour main opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn were set for the last push for votes.

The general election was called in a bid to break the Brexit deadlock, which has gripped Britain ever since the seismic 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU). After struggling to lead a minority administration, Johnson hopes to secure a majority government that will enable him to take Britain out of the bloc on Jan. 31.

The first results from some of the smaller constituencies will be announced around an hour after the counting starts. But the majority of results will start to emerge as the returning officers announce the results. This is when the first accurate picture emerges of the likely winner of the election, and of who will be heading to 10 Downing Street.

Managers of the political parties will be eagerly watching the emerging results, hoping their party will pass the magic number of 326, exactly half plus one of the number of constituencies, which is 650.

If either the governing Conservatives and the main opposition Labour pass the finishing line "326," they will be declared the winners to form the government.

If neither of the two big parties succeed in reaching 326, Britain faces another hung parliament.

It is only after a new government is in place, either a majority administration or a coalition, that the party leader could head to Buckingham Palace to seek authority from Queen Elizabeth to form a government. That is the exact moment when the next prime minister is "crowned."

Unlike in a presidential system, people in Britain do not elect prime ministers, but vote for party candidates, and it is the leader of the winning party who will serve as prime minister.

A new poll of YouGov, which interviewed about 100,000 panelists over the past seven days, forecasted that the Conservatives would take 339 seats (up 22 on the last general election in 2017), and the Labour main opposition 231 (down 31).

The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) was on course for 41 seats, up six, while the Liberal Democrats are set for 15 seats, up three.

YouGov also warned that the final number of Conservative seats could be between 311 -- hung parliament territory -- and 367.

If the pollsters are correct, Johnson will return to 10 Downing Street on Friday.

The general election result will also determine Britain's future. Johnson has vowed Tuesday to demolish three years of stalemate over Brexit, which is called the "Get Brexit Done" pledge, if he wins the election.


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