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General election now "wide open:" British PM

2010-04-18 14:22 BJT

Special Report: Britain General Election |

LONDON, April 17 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Saturday that the race to win the May 6 general election is now "wide open."

Brown spoke as he was out campaigning in England in the wake of the live TV debate on Thursday, which saw the leaders of Brown's Labor party, the main opposition Conservative party and the third party, the Liberal Democrats, discuss and argue domestic policy for 90 minutes.

"I think the election is wide open and there is a huge debate that is now going to take place," said Brown.

"But I thought that what came out of the debate is a clear idea of what the choices that we now face are, and these are big choices."

He added, "Out of the publicity and hype around the debates over these last few days, I think the big choices of the election have now been established.

"I have certainly been energized by the debate that is taking place in the country."

The historic live TV debate, the first in British political history, had an immediate and profound impact, catapulting Liberal Democratic leader Nick Clegg into prominence on the national stage for the first time. Clegg was hailed the winner in instant polls, by political commentators and even by his two opponents.

The leader of the third force in British politics, which held just 62 seats in the last parliament out of 650, has always been in the shadow of the two larger parties. But the TV debate put Clegg on an equal footing with Brown and Cameron for the first time in front of a national TV audience.

The immediate polls right after the debate put Clegg way out ahead with Cameron second, and Brown coming in third.

More polls the next day showed this personal gain had translated into a party gain, with the Lib Dems gaining 3 percent or more in some polls, with the Conservatives losing a little ground and Labor also shedding a little support.