British Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives are on course to win the most seats in parliament but will be just shy of an outright majority, an exit poll showed on Thursday after voting closed in a national election.
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The poll gave the Conservatives 316 seats and the opposition Labour Party 239. The Scottish National Party (SNP) is set to win 58 seats and the centrist Liberal Democrats 10 seats in the 650-seat Westminster parliament, according to the poll, released by national broadcasters.
The combined total of 326 for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, who have governed in coalition since 2010, indicated that Cameron should be able to stay in office.
Senior Conservative lawmaker Michael Gove said that an exit poll from Britain's national election pointed to a clear win for his party.
"If it is right, then it means the Conservatives have clearly won this election, and Labour has clearly lost it," he told the BBC.
However, Scottish nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon said the exit poll showing her party winning 58 of Scotland's 59 seats in Britain's national election should be treated with huge caution.
"I'd treat the exit poll with HUGE caution," the leader of the Scottish National Party tweeted. "I'm hoping for a good night but I think 58 seats is unlikely!"
Cameron's Conservatives and Ed Miliband's Labour Party had both seen support fall as voters turned elsewhere — chiefly to the Scottish Nationalists, who dominated the vote north of the border, and the anti-immigrant U.K. Independence Party. UKIP ran third in opinion polls but Britain's electoral system means it can win at most a handful of seats.
Across the nation of 64 million people, voters streamed to schools, churches and even some pubs for a say in their country's future.
In Scotland, voters turned out in droves, with lines at polling stations and a large turnout in the capital, Edinburgh.
About 50 million people were registered to vote, and turnout appeared to be high across the United Kingdom's four parts — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There was an excitement about taking part — if only for the pleasure of being involved in a big national event.