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THE HOME STRETCH

It’s 100 days to the UK election, and nobody knows what’s going to happen

By Cassie Werber

The UK general election is 100 days away. Here’s how things stand.

The polls

The Conservatives have a small lead over Labour in the polls. Or rather, they do in this poll. This pollster reckons the parties are tied. And this one thinks Labour may end up with more seats in parliament after counting the votes.

Basically, it’s going to be close.

What seems certain is that no party will win an outright majority. And the polls on voters’ preferred government coalitions are as inconclusive as the ones about voting intentions. The era of messy multi-party politics in the UK looks here to stay, with the potential instability that this entails. It will be the “most unpredictable” election in a century, according to analysts (paywall).

The debates

Party leaders have finally agreed to three televised debates, which will involve the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, as well as the Green Party—initially excluded by a regulator—and the UK independence Party (UKIP), the Scottish National Party (SNP), and Plaid Cymru, the nationalist political party of Wales.

The debate about the debates helped the Green Party, which has seen a surge in popularity in the past few months, which most believe will take votes away from Labour.

The policies

The parties that traditionally vie for the leadership are trying to set political agendas that suit them. Labour has made the National Health Service central to its campaign. The Conservatives, meanwhile, are leading on the economy—Cameron has said “full employment“ is his goal. (Per usual, the Liberal Democrats are presenting a mix policies that fall somewhere in between.)

The other parties are sticking with the issues for which they are best known: UKIP wants Britain to leave the EU, the Greens are big on fighting climate change, and the nationalist parties in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are campaigning for local issues (and against Westminster).

The undecideds

A third of the British electorate is still undecided, according to a recent poll. Women and young people are overrepresented among undecided voters.

But some believe that the truly undecided “swing voter” is a myth (pdf), a product of people who have made up their minds feigning uncertainty to pollsters. Indeed, in the same poll, only 5% of respondents said that they won’t vote in May, which if true would smash historical records for turnout in British elections—65% of voters submitted a ballot in the last general election.