LONDON (Reuters) - The Liberal Democrats have pushed the Labour Party into third place, according to an opinion poll on Monday that suggests no single party will win the May 6 election outright.
Despite their third place in the latest poll, Labour could still end up as the party with the most seats in the Commons.
The Liberal Democrats, the perennial third-place party since it was formed in 1988, gained 10 points in a week after their leader Nick Clegg was named by many as the winner of the first live television debates between the three main party heads.
The ICM survey on the Guardian’s website put the Liberal Democrats in second place on 30 percent, behind the Conservatives on 33, down four points.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour slipped three points to 28 percent, putting them in third place for the first time since the Guardian/ICM poll began in 1984. The Liberal Democrats were formed by a merger between the old Liberal and Social Democratic parties.
The election result is based on the party that wins the majority of electoral districts, rather than by looking at the overall share of the vote each side wins. The electoral map is often seen as favouring Labour.
According to the Guardian, Labour would take 275 seats in the 650-seat parliament, down 81 from their current total and short of the 326 needed for a majority.
The Conservatives would have 245 seats, up 47, and the Liberal Democrats 99, up 37.
The prospect of a “hung parliament” has worried some investors, who fear it will hamper decision-making and make it harder for the new government to take steps to reduce Britain’s record budget deficit.
Reporting by Peter Griffiths; editing by Keith Weir