All you need to know about the May 7 British General Election

This article was updated on May 8

LONDON - British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to lead a government for "one nation" and make "Great Britain greater" as he returned to Downing Street after a stunning election victory.

His Conservative Party won 331 seats, giving it an absolute majority in the 650-seat Parliament and the mandate to govern alone for the first time in 23 years.

The 48-year-old leader met Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace at about noon on Friday to accept a mandate to form the government.

Here's a recap of the election which confounded forecasts that the vote would be the closest in decades.


Britain's election: PM Cameron wins majority in Parliament; Miliband, Clegg resign

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron won a shock election victory in Britain, overturning predictions that the vote would be the closest in decades to sweep into office for another five years, with his Labour opponents in tatters.

The sterling currency, bonds and shares surged on a result that reversed expectations of an inconclusive "hung parliament" with Cameron jockeying for power with Labour rival Ed Miliband.

Mr Miliband and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg stepped down following their parties' poor showing.

READ MORE HERE

Britain's election: UKIP leader Nigel Farage loses British parliament bid

MARGATE, United Kingdom (AFP) - UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has failed to win a seat in Britain's parliament as his anti-EU party suffered a series of setbacks, final results from the general election showed on Friday.

The 51-year-old Farage, who had promised to step down if he did not win a seat, was making his seventh attempt to get elected to parliament.

READ MORE HERE

Britain's election: Pollsters another casualty of stunning election

LONDON (AFP) - The Conservative party's unexpected triumph in Britain's general election delivers a hefty blow not only to the routed Labour party, but also to the pollsters who predicted a dead heat.

"The pollsters need to go off and interrogate themselves and poll each other to find who has been telling porkies to whom," concluded Conservative London mayor Boris Johnson. "It's extraordinary that 11 polls on the eve of the election should get it so wrong."

For months, the main survey-takers had the two parties neck-and-neck, flatlining at around 35 percent each. Only one day before the elections, YouGov, ICM and Survation called it a tie and three other polls published by TNS, Opinium and ComRes gave the Conservatives the narrowest of leads.

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Britain's election: Student, 20, becomes Britain's youngest MP since 1667 as SNP surges

PAISLEY, United Kingdom (AFP) - At the age of just 20, Ms Mhairi Black has become Britain's youngest member of Parliament since 1667, in a victory which symbolises an expected nationalist landslide in Scotland.

Ms Black still has to complete her final exams at Glasgow University but will now be putting her politics degree into practice as the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South.

The no-nonsense blonde, who pronounces her first name as "Mary", won a majority of over 5,000 in Thursday's election to topple Mr Douglas Alexander, the Labour party's 47-year-old foreign affairs spokesman and campaign chief.

READ MORE HERE

Britain's election: First ethnic Chinese MP elected to Parliament

LONDON (AFP) - Mr Alan Mak, a former corporate lawyer whose parents emigrated to Britain from southern China, became the first ethnic Chinese person to be elected to the House of Commons on Friday.

Cambridge-educated Mr Mak, 31, comfortably won the constituency of Havant in southern England for the Conservatives, taking more than 51 per cent of the votes cast, according to results from Thursday's general election.

"I'm honoured and delighted to be elected the new member of parliament for Havant," Mr Mak said in comments published by the Portsmouth News website. "We had a really strong campaign with lots of support from residents on the doorstep. I'm looking forward to working hard to support everyone in this constituency."

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Britain's election: Conservative party appears to have secured another term

British Prime Minister David Cameron and his ruling Conservatives appear to have confounded all predictions from pollsters and seasoned political observers by narrowly winning another five-year term in office.

Exit polls released soon after balloting ended predict that the Conservatives have secured 316 seats in Britain's 650-seat parliament - short of an overall majority but enough to remain in office.

The number of their parliamentary seats appears to have increased from 307 to 316 - the first time this has happened for any party in power since 1983. But they are still short of the 326 parliamentary seats they need to govern. READ MORE HERE

In pictures: Hair salons, pubs and even a windmill used as polling stations in Britain's election

LONDON - Hair salons, pubs, and garages, and even a windmill - these were some of the unusual places used as polling stations in Britain's general election on Thursday.

Here's a look at some of the quirky locations:

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Britain's election: Fans of PM David Cameron in London cheer signs of election win

LONDON (AFP) - Drinkers at a pub near the skyscrapers of the London's financial district toasted indications that Britain could be headed for a second government led by Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday.

As an exit poll showed his centre-right Conservative party ahead and results began to filter through, the drink was flowing as one of Britain's many election night parties got underway.

The mood was upbeat at the Draft House, a bar in the heart of the City of London, the financial and historical centre of the capital and traditionally a stronghold of Conservative support as well as a key source of donors for the party during the campaign. READ MORE HERE

Pound soars as exit poll tips ruling Conservative Party win

LONDON (Bloomberg) - The British pound climbed the most in seven weeks as an exit poll indicated the Conservative Party was on track to lead a minority government after the U.K. election. Most Asian index futures rose, while crude oil held losses as investors awaited key data on the U.S. labor market.

Sterling jumped more than 0.9 per cent against the U.S. dollar and the euro, trading at US$1.5387 by 7:51 a.m. Tokyo time after touching its strongest level since April 30. Futures on equity gauges from Japan to Hong Kong advanced in most recent trading, while contracts on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were little changed after the benchmark halted a two-day drop. U.S. crude was at US$59 a barrel following Thursday's 3.3 per cent retreat.

The poll gave the Conservatives 316 of the parliament's 650 seats, with the Labour Party trailing on 239 seats. Should the results bear out, Conservative leader David Cameron would win his second term as prime minister. While China posts trade data Friday, traders are anticipating the monthly U.S. payrolls report, which is seen as key to determining the likely timeline for higher interest rates in the world's largest economy. READ MORE HERE

Britain's election: Student, 20, becomes Britain's youngest MP since 1667 as SNP surges

PAISLEY, United Kingdom (AFP) - At the age of just 20, Ms Mhairi Black has become Britain's youngest member of Parliament since 1667, in a victory which symbolises an expected nationalist landslide in Scotland.

Ms Black still has to complete her final exams at Glasgow University but will now be putting her politics degree into practice as the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South.

The no-nonsense blonde, who pronounces her first name as "Mary", won a majority of over 5,000 in Thursday's election to topple Mr Douglas Alexander, the Labour party's 47-year-old foreign affairs spokesman and campaign chief. READ MORE HERE


Political parties contesting

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Prime Minister David Cameron of the centre-right Conservative Party is seeking his second term in office, while the Labour Party's Ed Miliband is touted as his closest rival in opinion polls.

Click here for the lowdown on the other parties and a look at four possible outcomes.

Key leaders of the major parties

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The incumbent, the geek, the promise-breaker, the "man of the people" and the kingmaker - who are the faces fronting Britain's major political parties?

Get to know the five key leaders here

Hot topic issues to address

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With the possibility that Mr Cameron could lose power and no one party set to win a clear majority, how the candidates approach certain topics could prove decisive.

Here is a look at the key issues at the heart of the campaign.

How the political parties have been faring on social media

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The iconic London Eye was lit up in party political colours on May 2 to reflect the amount of social media interaction about them on Facebook.

Find out how popular they are online here.

A look at the two main contenders

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Cameron and Miliband have both been hard at work on the campaign trail, with both experiencing their fair share of hits and misses.

Here is a closer look at the two men and their backgrounds.

The power play after the polls

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The aftermath of the election is set to be a messy one - it might take days, even weeks to form what could be the country's new-look government.

ST's Europe correspondent Jonathan Eyal examines the various scenarios, be it a majority, minority or coalition government, here.

Effect on the Asia-Pacific region

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Britain's membership of the 28-member European Union - a major point of contention in the election - could have significant political and economic effects on the Asia-Pacific. 

Both the Labour Party and Scottish National Party are opposing a proposed referendum by Cameron on whether to leave the EU by 2017, while the Eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has based its entire campaign on wanting to leave the EU immediately. 

More details here