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Hitch your wagon to a star

Conservatives projected to win U.K. election

Television stations were projecting a Conservative win based on exit polls suggesting the Tories have won the largest number of seats in Britain's national election, but will fall slightly short of a majority.

A BBC analysis suggested David Cameron's party will win 307 House of Commons seats, short of the 326 seats needed for a majority, according to results from a poll done for three broadcast networks.

Labour Leader Gordon Brown arrives with his wife, Sarah, at a polling station in North Queensferry in Fife, Scotland, on Thursday. (David Moir/Reuters)

Two scenarios could arise — Prime Minister Gordon Brown could resign if he feels the results have signalled he has lost his mandate to rule, or he could try to stay on as leader and seek a deal in which smaller parties would support him.

Millions of voters headed to polling stations Thursday to cast their ballots in a general election that was widely expected to be the closest race in years.

More than 44 million people had registered to vote in the election, in which voters were asked to pick both MPs for the 650-seat British Parliament and a number of local authorities.

One recent poll suggested that as many as 40 per cent of British voters began the day undecided, and many analysts have suggested that the United Kingdom could be facing its first minority, or "hung," Parliament in 36 years.

Recent polls suggested Cameron's Conservatives were the favourites to win, but observers were forecasting a tight three-party race after Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg performed well in televised debates.

Clegg, 43, was not widely expected to win the election, but analysts suggested he could hold the balance of power in a minority Parliament.

Britain's tabloids pulled the trigger in Thursday's race with the Daily Mirror running a picture of Cameron along with the words, "Prime Minister? Really?" The Sun, meanwhile, superimposed Cameron's face onto U.S. President Barack Obama's famous colour poster that read, "Hope."

Final push for votes

Brown, 59, touted his experience managing the economy throughout the campaign, but he struggled to recover after he was caught on tape referring to a voter as a "bigoted woman."

The incumbent leader made his final campaign speech in his native Scotland on Wednesday, urging supporters to return a Labour government that has been in power for 13 years.

Cameron, 43, continued his push for the Conservatives in the final days before the election, telling the BBC that he slept on his bus as he shuttled between campaign stops, saying he is going "all out" to win.

Clegg urged voters to vote for the Liberal Democrats, saying his party could deliver "real change, real hope, real fairness."

The United Kingdom hasn't had a minority government since 1974, when Prime Minister Edward Heath's Conservatives got fewer seats than Labour. Heath tried to form a coalition with the Liberals, but couldn't pull it together.

Heath resigned and the Queen gave Labour Leader Harold Wilson the chance to govern. Wilson's government lasted for about six months, until he called another election, which his party won.

Conservative Leader David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, leave after voting near Witney in Oxfordshire in southern England. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Meanwhile, a light aircraft carrying a candidate for a minor party in the election crashed Thursday, but officials say the pilot and passenger survived with minor injuries.

Nigel Farage, a member of the UK Independence Party, was being treated at a hospital, said aide Chris Adams.

"He is OK so it's not life-threatening. The show goes on," Adams told BBC television.

Polling booths opened at 7 a.m. local time and will close at 10 p.m.

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