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Observers are avidly watching--and live-blogging--the returns from the British election. Greg Mitchell at The Nation reports the "first 'confirmed' exit poll sees likely 'hung' Parliament," i.e. a situation in which no party has a majority, forcing messy negotiations over legislation. What are the scenarios if so, and the different predictions from those who have been tracking polls for the last few weeks?
  • FiveThirtyEight Team Favors Conservatives  The "official" prediction from the FiveThirtyEight political number crunchers, led by Nate Silver, is for a hung parliament with Conservatives getting 312 seats, Labour with 204, and Liberal Democrats with 103. Silver, though, points out that "the polls on the other side of the pond have not always been so great, so it is necessary to build in some tolerance for error." His assessment: "As of this writing, betting markets now give Conservatives about a 38 percent chance of claiming a majority. I don't know that there's much arbitrage either way there, but I'd be slightly inclined to take the Tories on those odds."
  • However the City of Sunderland Votes  "In each of the last four general elections," notes The Guardian's Tom Clark, "Sunderland South has snatched the prize as the first constituency to declare its result." Generally, it has also reflected the "national mood."
  • Big Story Here Isn't the Conservatives, but Electoral Reform argues Renard Sexton, FiveThirtyEight columnist writing at Foreign Policy for a change. The Tories, as they're also called, will probably win, but "the Liberal Democrats' rise has brought an air of inevitability to the issue of electoral reform that had not existed previously. If the party plays its cards right, this election could fundamentally alter British politics--a fitting end to an intriguing campaign."
  • And Hung Parliaments Can Work Out, adds Sexton, writing this time from The Guardian. He points to a few examples, both in the UK and elsewhere, where "minority governments have produced results."
  • Were the Liberal Democrats Full of Hot Air?  Over at The Telegraph's liveblog, there's some disagreement over exit poll results predicting a paltry 59 seats for the Liberal Democrats, who were supposed to be the big story of this election." Some buy the number, some don't.
  • Markets Won't Like This, predicts The Telegraph's Jeremy Warner. "Already primed for a beating after the sell-off on Wall Street over night, the stock market isn’t going to take a hung parliament well. As a minority government, the Tories will find it hard to achieve the deficit reduction the markets demand."
  • Looking Like a Nasty Parliament  Business Insider's Gregory White sees a Labour and a Tory representative bickering on the BBC over "who will have the legitimacy to govern. If this is starting already," observes White, assuming a hung parliament, "you can be sure this weekend's negotiations are going to be rather chaotic."

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