Britain's main opposition Labour party is choosing a new leader, with voting ending on Thursday. Popular left-wing candidate Jeremy Corbyn is expected to win. Results are to be announced on Saturday.
Although initially a rank outsider in the Labour leadership race, Jeremy Corbyn's "straight talking, honest politics" slogan has struck a chord with voters. According to a YouGov poll, 53 percent of those intending to vote would choose him as leader of the center-left Labour party.
Ballot papers were sent out in mid-August and have to be returned by September 10. The result will be announced on Saturday. All party members, registered supporters and affiliated supporters - those who joined via a union for example - are eligible to vote.
Corbyn, who is 66 and an MP in London's affluent and increasingly gentrified borough of Islington, has vowed to "build a new social movement to bring about real change in our country," according to his campaign website. He intends to raise taxes for the wealthy, protect public services and end the current government's austerity drive.
Unlike the other three candidates in the running for the leadership - Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall - he stands for clear left-wing policies, not centrist compromise.
"He has triumphed because he represents a rejection of conventional politics and also because Labour's mainstream candidates failed to inspire excitement or hope," Andrew Harrop, general secretary of left-wing think tank the Fabian Society, told the AFP news agency.
Corbyn has become the darling of Labour supporters and trade unions, who have become jaded after almost two decades of centrist policies of senior Labour figures like Tony Blair, whose "New Labour" concept was aimed at dusting off Labour's old, left-wing image when he took office in 1997.
Ed Miliband, who stepped down as leader after the Conservatives' clear win in the May 7 general election, was also known for his leftist agenda, prompting fierce debate on what direction the party should head in.
Corbyn is a much more radical left-winger, which many see as the reason for his popularity. Miliband, on the other hand, was seen as too bland.
Conservative Chancellor George Osborne, meanwhile, says Labour risks "heading in the wrong direction," he told "New Statesman" magazine.
"If they want to go back to the 1980s, let them. The Conservative Party is not doing that," he said, referring to Labour's much more left-wing policies back then. Osborne added that he thinks the Conservative party now has a "big responsibility to hold the center, to represent working people…"
ng/se (AFP, Reuters)