The United Kingdom is holding its first general election since 2010, and things aren’t going to plan for anyone.
So when Britons turn out to vote on 7 May, the stakes will be high, as what would normally be a two-person fight has turned into a free-for-all.
Backstory: In 2010, the UK’s centrist third party – the Liberal Democrats – managed to elbow their way in, leaving Conservative leader David Cameron to form a coalition government with them after the election.
Depending on your point of view, the coalition either smashed apart the state or saved the UK’s economy.
David Cameron is personally popular as a result, but the Lib Dems' ratings have plummeted.
For the Labour party, there’s Ed Miliband.
Even though the economy is on track, Cameron’s re-election isn’t certain – voters are still wary about the Tories’ handling of things like healthcare, and they have far more options to choose from now.
First up: the United Kingdom Independence party, led by Nigel Farage.
There’s also the Scottish National party, headed by Nicola Sturgeon.
There’s also Plaid Cymru and the Greens – a Welsh nationalist group and a left-wing socialist insurgent party respectively – but they’re less important here.
Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru and Natalie Bennett of the Green party.
So now, with a week to go, the polls are neck and neck: The Tories are attracting roughly 34% of the vote, Labour just slightly less, and everyone else is scrapping it out for the rest.
Although Labour and the Conservatives won’t admit it, no one expects either to win a majority, so it’ll be a hung parliament with the government formed by whoever can cobble together a coalition.
But it’s going to be tricky: Roughly 323 seats are needed for a majority, and a typical prediction has the Conservatives winning roughly 280 seats, Labour getting around 270, the SNP taking 50, and the Lib Dems winning 30, and a variety of smaller parties such as UKIP and Plaid Cymru sharing the remaining constituencies. Do the sums and see you see why this is problematic.
And absolutely nothing has happened to shift the polls at all since the start of the long campaign in January.
The big concern: Nobody wants to partner with anybody else.
The left-wing SNP has said they'll never do a deal with the Tories, Labour has said it'll never do a deal with the SNP, and the Lib Dem leadership isn't very keen on a deal with Labour. Meanwhile, the Tories don't want to do a deal with anyone if they can avoid it, especially not their right-wing rival UKIP. The public don't really like deals in general.
In the meantime, it’s been both really weird and incredibly boring.
One of the Conservative campaign chiefs has been accused of editing his own Wikipedia page and selling get-rich-quick books online under a pseudonym. A strange teenage fangirl cult has grown up around Ed Miliband. There's been a lot of forgettable speeches. Some terrible posters. Usual campaign stuff.
All told, the odds that people will wake up in the UK on 8 May with a winner known is looking slim.
Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Jim Waterson at email@example.com.
Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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