Last call for UK voters, commuters at London Victoria | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 07.05.2015
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Last call for UK voters, commuters at London Victoria

Results from the UK general election will trickle in overnight. Yet the true outcome may take days, or weeks, to materialize - if the polls bear out. At London's Victoria Station, DW's Mark Hallam met commuting voters.

Many commuters at London Victoria couldn't spare the time to chat. Thursday's general election - on a normal work day - can put a strain on politically-engaged professionals working in the city.

"Sorry buddy," one man was kind enough to shout over his shoulder en route to the platform for a westward-bound train, barely breaking stride. "I need to catch my train and vote Labour; no time to chat about it!"

Victoria Station is London's major hub for the underground and national rail network. London's international coach station is just up the road as well. According to the National Rail Network, roughly twice as many people pass through the station each day than through London Heathrow Airport, the UK's largest.

Polls shut at 10 p.m. local time (2100 GMT/UTC) in what's set to be among the closest elections in the UK's history. A hung parliament apparently beckons - barring some real shocks in the voting booths - with both the Conservatives and Labour polling well short of the winning post. Each party is projected to take in around one-third of the popular vote, but it will be their tally of seats that truly counts.

'Glad it's the end of one-party politics'

All seven major party leaders had cast their votes by early evening. So had Sam, who works in theater and film, and lives in North London, in the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency.

He voted for the incumbent, Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone. "I actually joined the Liberal Democrats in 2013," Sam says, explaining that it was their proposed program for the arts that swayed him.

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That will be music to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg's ears - his party has struggled since going into coalition with the Conservatives, not least over increased university tuition fees during the past five years. They look set to lose more than a handful of their 57 seats overnight. Even Clegg's seat, in the student-heavy Sheffield Hallam constituency, is not considered safe from Labour. As for Sam's local MP Featherstone, she went into election day second-favorite to Labour's Catherine West, considered an up-and-comer in the center-left party.

As a member of the party hoping to be "kingmakers," or junior coalition partners, when the dust settles, perhaps it's no surprise that Sam welcomes the prospect of a hung parliament. "I do think it's a good thing that the days of one-party rule seem to be at an end, I think coalitions can be more representative of the voters."

Clegg famously said on the campaign trail that his party could be "a heart for the Conservatives," or "a brain for Labour." Of these two options, Sam would favor Labour: "I don't think too much more austerity is the way to go." However, he's quick to add that it's David Cameron who he would pick as Britain's face to the rest of the world. This fits with many opinion polls on the two main leaders heading into the vote; Labour's Ed Miliband consistently scores better on likeability, while it's the prime minister winning categories like statesmanship.

A 'tartan Tory' in London

The main issue on Lindsay's mind when she went to vote was an unusual one: "To be honest, I wasn't sure whether I was registered or not, because I moved down from Scotland quite recently."

Scotland offers the only clear-cut political landscape in all of the UK. The Scottish National Party (SNP) was polling miles clear of the Labour party going into polling day, predicted to sweep at least 45 of 59 available seats.

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Had Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon known Lindsay's voting intentions, she might have bought her the train ticket down south

Asked about the SNP option that would have been missing from her new constituency's ballot paper, Lindsay laughs.

"Thankfully! Someone else made that comment, and I replied: Yeah, I'm not really worried about that. But it winds my mum up, so it is funny," Lindsay explains - adding that she was still in Scotland last year to vote in the independence referendum of 2014. "I was among the 55 [percent of voters who elected to stay in the UK]; proudly, yes."

Lindsay says that her local Labour candidate was not to her liking, so "I actually voted blue." Back home in Scotland, the Conservatives are facing another meager haul of votes; Prime Minister David Cameron might well be glad Lindsay upped sticks and came to a more competitive Conservative constituency.

'A hung parliament will be a disaster'

Another woman, a little older than Lindsay, asks if she can speak anonymously, owing to her professional capacity. Business, the economy, and the UK's budget deficit were major influences on her vote - another checked Conservative box on a London ballot.

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"I think a hung parliament will be a disaster, but I think we probably will have one," she says. "I think the SNP's been quite detrimental with [party leader] Nicola Sturgeon. … But hopefully, tomorrow, people will have actually used their vote sensibly for the greater good."

She lauds the minority parties for "changing the face of British politics" in the 2015 campaign, "But at the moment we need a strong government to get the economy back on the road again."

Near the Victoria Station exit, a man in his 40s puffs on a quick cigarette, presumably before catching his train. Could he spare a few seconds to talk about the vote? "Sorry but no. I will not vote and could not be less interested."

Not every Londoner's Thursday commute was disrupted by "the most important general election in a generation," as one daily paper had put it.

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