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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Europe and the UK election updates

Clegg vaults to lead in U.K. election: poll : News Updates

Europe and the UK election updatesNew public opinion polls show British politics has been transformed overnight by last week's historic televised leadership debate.

Just 2½ weeks before Britons go to the polls, a surge in support for the traditionally third-place Liberal Democrats has put the party out front in terms of the popular vote.

A Sunday Times poll claims Nick Clegg, the party's 43-year-old leader, who is still serving his first term in Parliament as an MP, has suddenly become the most popular leader in Britain since the glory days of Winston Churchill.

A YouGov poll for the Sun newspaper has the Liberal Democrats with 33%, ahead of the Conservatives with 32% and Labour at 26%.

Another poll, carried out by ICM Research for The Guardian newspaper, says Mr. Clegg's party has gained 10 points in the last five days and is just three points behind the Conservatives and two points ahead of Labour.

As a result of 90 minutes of rather boring and predictable debate, the Lib-Dem leader has vaulted from obscurity to the threshold of a major political breakthrough.

That says a lot about voters' disillusion and the fragility of traditional politics in Britain.

If current trends hold, Mr. Clegg could double the 62 seats his party holds in the House of Commons, condemning the country to a minority government in which the Liberal Democrats hold the balance of power.

That, in turn, could set the stage for dramatic political reform, with the Liberal Democrats pushing demands for a form of proportional representation and an elected House of Lords.

Gordon Brown, the Labour Prime Minister who could still cling to power, has already begun emphasizing the "common ground" he sees with Mr. Clegg on electoral reform.

"I think Labour and the Liberal Democrats have similar policies about the scale of political reform that is needed," Mr. Brown told The Sunday Telegraph.

"The Conservatives don't. The Conservatives want to keep hereditary peers, they don't want a serious reform of the House of Lords in the next parliament."

But Labour can be expected to attack the Liberal Democrats' economic policies, saying their calls for steep spending and tax cuts could jeopardize a fragile economic recovery.

The Conservatives are warning a vote for the Liberal Democrats will ensure five more years of Labour government.

"If you want to wake up on May 7 and be absolutely certain that you've got new leadership in this country and are not stuck with another five years of Gordon Brown, stuck with dithering and despair and depression, the only way to get that is a decisive Conservative vote," David Cameron, the Tory leader, told voters yesterday.

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