Polls close in Britain's Labour leadership race

22nd September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Polls closed Wednesday in the battle to become the leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, with former Foreign Secretary David Miliband the favourite to beat his younger brother Ed to the post.

Labour lawmakers and party members had until 5:00pm (1600 GMT) to vote for the five candidates bidding to succeed former prime minister Gordon Brown at the head of the centre-left party.

David Miliband, 45, has the most nominations from his fellow lawmakers, while ex-energy secretary Ed Miliband, 40, is thought to be his closest challenger, with firm support from trade unions.

Former education secretary Ed Balls, ex-health secretary Andy Burnham and left-wing backbencher Diane Abbott are the other contenders.

The winner will be announced on Saturday in Manchester, northwest England, the day before the party's annual conference starts in Britain's third city.

British bookmakers Ladbrokes on Wednesday made David Miliband the narrow 4-7 favourite ahead of his brother on 5-4.

Labour members of the British and European parliaments get a third of the votes; trade unions another third and party members the final third. Around three million people are expected to have voted.

Labour's complicated electoral college system and the redistribution of votes to second-preference candidates makes accurate prediction of the result all but impossible.

Voting closed for trade unions on Tuesday.

With the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats forming a governing coalition after a general election in May, Labour are Britain's only sizeable opposition party in parliament.

Voting also closes Wednesday for Labour's candidate to take on Conservative incumbent Boris Johnson in the London mayoral elections in 2012, with former mayor Ken Livingstone the favourite among four candidates.

The winner will be announced Friday.

© 2010 AFP

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