Vote 2011: Polls close in elections across the UK
Published: 5th May 2011 22:46:43
Counting is under way after polls closed in elections for 279 English councils and elections to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.
The English polls are the biggest test yet for the coalition, with results due in from midnight. Labour hope to make gains from the Tories and Lib Dems.
Counting in the Northern Irish Assembly election begins on Friday morning.
The outcome of the UK-wide referendum on the Westminster voting system is due on Friday evening.
In the largest set of elections ever to take place on the same day, parties face the voters' verdict across the UK.
In what has been dubbed "super Thursday", a parliamentary by-election also took place in Leicester South, following the decision by Labour MP Sir Peter Soulsby to stand down to run for mayor of the city.
More mayoral contests are being held in Mansfield, Middlesbrough, Torbay and Bedford while local authority elections also took place in Northern Ireland.
Almost a year since the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was formed, the contests taking place in England are the first chance for most voters to deliver a verdict on its performance.
Sunderland is expected to be the first council to declare at about midnight, with significant results expected from Birmingham at 0130 and Lib Dem held Bristol at 0200.
2200: Polls close
2330: Early results expected from some English councils
0130-0230: Key council results expected in Birmingham, Bristol, Hull and Sheffield
0230: First Scottish and Welsh constituency results expected
0300: Results due from Liverpool, Manchester and Stockport councils
0600: First results from Scottish and Welsh regional list elections
0730: Counting begins in Leicester South parliamentary by-election
0800: Counting begins in Northern Ireland Assembly elections
1600: Counting begins in AV referendum
Labour, which ran an anti-spending cuts campaign, will be hoping to make gains on many English councils at the expense of the other two main parties.
It is looking to take control of several large authorities, including Leeds, Bolton, Ipswich and Sheffield.
The council seats up for grabs were last contested in 2007, when Labour lost 642 councillors in one of the party's worst ever performances.
Support for the Lib Dems is expected to fall, although the party also had a bad time in 2007, with a net loss of 257 councillors, meaning it too is starting from a low base.
The Conservatives, the big winners four years ago, are predicted to lose some of their 9,432 councillors.
Smaller parties are looking to make headway. The Greens are hoping to take control, either on their own or in alliance with other parties, in Brighton and Hove and Norwich while the UK Independence Party is looking to increase its representation.
Meanwhile a UK-wide referendum - only the second in history - asked voters whether they wanted to end the first-past-the-post system for Westminster elections and replace it with the alternative vote (AV) system, under which voters rank candidates in order of preference.
Polls suggested AV will be rejected by a sizeable margin, but turnout levels at polling stations are predicted to have been fairly low, making the result more unpredictable.
The Conservatives oppose changing the electoral system, while the Lib Dems are in favour of AV. This has led to some bitter rows between senior coalition colleagues over the past few weeks.
Labour is split on the issue, with leader Ed Miliband backing the change, but many of his MPs opposing it.
Counting in the referendum will not begin until 1600 BST on Friday.
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2011. Vote 2011: Polls close in elections across the UK [Online] (Updated 5th May 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/151334/Vote-2011-Polls-close-in-elections-across-the-UK [Accessed 9th Mar 2014]
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