Democracy campaigners are urging the public to refuse to give the big two parties an outright majority, and to vote instead for a 'hung parliament' and radical political and voting reform.
A hung parliament, sometimes called a 'balanced parliament', is one in which no party has an overall majority. The idea behind the campaign is that parties such as the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party - who all support political and voting reform - can then be in a position to push the 'big two' into long overdue reform, by making it a condition for any government formed under the conditions of no overall majority.
The website Hang 'Em (http://hang-em.com/) - whose sponsors include the thinktank Ekklesia and other civil society groups and individuals - was the first to use the web to push the message that "we have got to renew democracy in Britain. The established players won't, so hang 'em until they do."
According to recent opinion polls, such an outcome is still very likely, but both Tory and Labour oligarchs have been working hard in recent days to suggest that such a 'logjam' would be undesirable, and some business leaders have suggested, against data from the leading economies in Europe, that no overall majority would be a recipe for 'financial chaos'.
"Those who have a vested interest in the status quo, and who can thereby maintain their political and economic monopoly on a minority of votes in a non-proportional system, have been very vocal in calling for a 'decisive verdict' - which actually means allowing them to continue to divide-and-rule," said Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow as the polls in the 6 may 2010 General Election opened this morning.
"But for the first time in modern history, the British public actually have an opportunity to vote for real change, and to refuse to allow the system to outvote them," he continued. "By voting for the smaller parties, independents, and the candidate most likely to assist a 'hung parliament' outcome, people who fear their votes might be wasted under first-past-the-post can make them count in the most powerful way possible."
The Hang 'Em site offers a voters' guide to achieve this end, by constituency: http://hang-em.com/?cat=4
The initiative was launched at the beginning of the General Election campaign by a group of democracy and civil rights activists, commentators, academics and think-tankers - Guy Aitchison, Anthony Barnett (founder of Charter 88), Simon Barrow and Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia, Rosemary Bechler, Simon BuClare Coatman, Felix Cohen, Ivor Cornish, Gerry Hassan, Tony Curzon Price, Helen Lambert, Peter Johnson, Adam Price, Stephen Taylor and Stuart Weir.
Campaigners are also stressing the importance and high priority of voting against the BNP and other racist and xenophobic candidates.
Power 2010 (http://www.power2010.org.uk/), which has involved over a hundred thousand people in drawing up a five point 'democracy pledge', also has its own list of 'reform candidates'.