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Want to know what "hung parliament" and "first past the post" mean? Read on.
LONDON, United Kingdom — The jockeying for position has begun. The closest British election in four decades is heading for a melodramatic finish with operatives already trying to spin public opinion in case the British electorate on Thursday fails to give a party the majority it needs to form a government.
Here is a simple guide to understanding the current situation — and why the vote this week may only be phase one in a complicated story:
First past the post doesn't actually reflect the overall popular vote totals. In the last general election in 2005, the conservatives won 208 seats on 33.23 percent of the vote, while Labour had just 2.75 percent more of the vote but won 346 seats. The reason for this is that the Conservatives tend to win their seats by big margins, where Labour's victories are much tighter. But it is the Liberal Democrats who are most hurt by the fact that the British system doesn't reward the popular vote at all. The Lib Dems are polling evenly or just ahead of Labour, yet they are projected to gain fewer than half the number of seats that Labour will get.