It's an election that refuses to play by the rules. As the U.K. votes, pollsters are still scrabbling for a reliable forecast – in fact, the calls about "how difficult it is to call" have fast become the cliché of the campaign.
What can be said with certainty is that the traditional two-party dominance that has been a feature of British politics since 1945 has been challenged by a range of insurgent parties. Whatever happens on Thursday, the U.K.'s political landscape has altered for good. Here, we take a look at why and how this is happening.
In the 18 general elections since the British public put Labour's Clement Attlee in power in 1945, U.K. politics has been relatively stable, with the left-wing Labour and the center-right Conservative Party winning 9 each.
Within these governments there were seismic changes: the rise of Thatcherism; the birth of the welfare state under Attlee; near-crippling trade union strikes and the dismantling of the British Empire to name a few. Yet, gradually, both the main parties moved closer to the center ground, and the U.K. became one of the safest havens for investors around the world.
Could that be about to change?
The U.K.'s population has become increasingly disillusioned with the two main parties. Whereas in the 1951 General Election, 95 percent of voters backed either Labour or the Conservatives, this time round polls suggest that around only two-thirds of voters will back the two main parties.