It is reported from London that Prime Minister Gordon Brown has returned to Downing Street following an audience with Queen Elizabeth II where he asked her to dissolve the British Parliament. It is expected that he will soon confirm the widely expected 6 May election date.
The general election is set to be the closest race since 1974, with an opinion poll published in the Guardian yesterday showing the Conservatives down 1 % to 37 % and Labour up 4 % to 33 %, and the Liberal Democrats down 2 % to 21 %.
Because of the outdated electoral system still used in Britain such an outcome could mean that Labour nevertheless would have become the largest party in Parliament but without a majority of their own. Such a situation, known as a hung parliament, is considered a national calamity in Britain and the last time it occured, in 1974, it led to Parliament being dissolved and a new general election being called within monhts.
This is perhaps less likely this time, given the precarious state of the British economy. Personally I tend to think that a hung parliament might not be such a negative thing for Britain after all - a coalition government including the Liberal Democrats could be a benefit.