Polls suggest hung parliament in election

LONDON Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:14am GMT

Prime Minister Gordon Brown waits to greet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the steps of 10 Downing Street in central London, January 29, 2010. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Prime Minister Gordon Brown waits to greet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the steps of 10 Downing Street in central London, January 29, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

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LONDON (Reuters) - An election due by June is likely to result in a hung parliament where no single party has an outright majority, two opinion polls showed on Sunday.

The polls, published in the Mail on Sunday and the People newspapers, both put the Conservative Party nine percentage points ahead of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party. Two polls on Saturday also hinted at a hung parliament.

Analysts say a lead of up to nine points is unlikely to give the Conservatives an overall majority, resulting in a hung parliament -- the first time this would have occurred in Britain since the mid-1970s.

A hung parliament could make financial markets jittery over whether legislators would be able to take decisive action to tackle Britain's record budget deficit.

A BPIX poll for the Mail on Sunday showed a slip in support for David Cameron's Conservatives, putting them on 39 percent, Labour on 30 and the Liberal Democrats on 18.

The newspaper said it was the first time for more than two years that the Conservatives' rating had fallen below the 40 percent threshold in a BPIX poll.

If the figures were repeated in an election, the Conservatives would be forced to form a pact with the Liberal Democrats or Northern Ireland's Ulster Unionists to govern, said the newspaper.

A YouGov survey in the People put the Conservatives on 40 percent, Labour on 31 percent and the Liberal Democrats on 18.

The newspaper calculated it would leave the Conservatives eight seats short of an overall majority and searching for partners in a hung parliament.

The two polls published on Saturday showed Labour closing the gap on the Conservatives at the end of a week in which Britain officially crawled out of recession.

The Daily Mirror's Ipsos MORI poll put the Conservatives on 40 percent, down three points on last month, while Labour had gained six points at 32 percent. The Daily Telegraph's YouGov survey showed the gap was narrower, with the Conservatives on 38 percent and Labour on 31.

In an Internet podcast on Saturday, Brown said cutting borrowing too soon to try and tackle Britain's 178 billion pound deficit could risk undermining the fragile economic recovery.

"Return to strong, sustainable global growth is still some way off. So I can reassure you that we are not about to jeopardise Britain's economic future by suddenly pulling the rug from under the recovery," he said.

(Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by Ralph Gowling.)

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