Will the election usher in a new era of instability?

In the final countdown to the general election, there were no signs that the campaign had changed anything.

In the final countdown to today's general election, there were no signs that the campaign had changed anything. The two main parties remained deadlocked at around 32% of the vote each; the Tories were exhorting Ukip voters to rejoin the fold; Labour was still insisting there would be no formal deal with the SNP; and both parties were discussing what sort of arrangement would be deemed legitimate in the likely scenario of a hung parliament.

Meanwhile, markets are increasingly jittery. One-week sterling/dollar implied volatility hit a four-year high, suggesting that investors are feeling more concerned about fluctuations in the pound's value than at any time since the aftermath of the last election.

What the commentators said

The deadlock in the polls suggests the voters just don't trust the leaders, and they did little to rectify that, said Hugo Dixon on breakingviews.com. Cameron wouldn't spell out his welfare cuts, which made people think he was stalling in order to avoid losing votes; Miliband refused to admit that Labour had overspent.

What now? "There could be months of fumbling around," said economist.com's Buttonwood blog. A Labour government imposing higher taxes and more regulation is a major near-term worry, while the SNP's success could lead to the government collapsing.

Longer-term, the question of Scottish independence isn't going to just go away, said Simon Nixon in The Wall Street Journal, while an EU referendum is also a major headache. The upshot is that "one of the most politically stable countries in Europe looks destined to be transformed into one of the least stable".

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