World

In fragmented UK election, 7-way leaders debate offers small parties a chance to sink or shine

  • British Prime Minister David Cameron, second right, talks with pupils during a visit to the Kings Leadership Academy in Warrington, northwest England, Thursday April 2, 2015. Britain goes to the polls for a general election on Thursday May 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Leon Neal, Pool)

    British Prime Minister David Cameron, second right, talks with pupils during a visit to the Kings Leadership Academy in Warrington, northwest England, Thursday April 2, 2015. Britain goes to the polls for a general election on Thursday May 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Leon Neal, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, centre, sits with MP Mark Hunter as they meet Joanne Thompson with her six week old son Leo, during a visit to the Millie's Trust charity in Cheadle, England, Thursday April 2, 2015, as part of the election trail. Britain goes to the polls for a general election on Thursday May 7, 2015.  (AP Photo/PA,  Steve Parsons) UNITED KINGDOM OUT

    Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, centre, sits with MP Mark Hunter as they meet Joanne Thompson with her six week old son Leo, during a visit to the Millie's Trust charity in Cheadle, England, Thursday April 2, 2015, as part of the election trail. Britain goes to the polls for a general election on Thursday May 7, 2015. (AP Photo/PA, Steve Parsons) UNITED KINGDOM OUT  (The Associated Press)

  • Britain's Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband speaks to an invited audience made up of Labour supporters and undecided voters, during an election trail, at Bury Town Hall, in Bury, Thursday April 2, 2015. Britain goes to the polls for a general election on Thursday May 7, 2015.  (AP Photo/PA, Chris Radburn) UNITED KINGDOM OUT

    Britain's Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband speaks to an invited audience made up of Labour supporters and undecided voters, during an election trail, at Bury Town Hall, in Bury, Thursday April 2, 2015. Britain goes to the polls for a general election on Thursday May 7, 2015. (AP Photo/PA, Chris Radburn) UNITED KINGDOM OUT  (The Associated Press)

Britain's political leaders are clashing in a seven-way debate before a May 7 national election.

Britain's political landscape is at its most fragmented in decades. Thursday's showdown includes Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservatives, main opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and chiefs of the centrist Liberal Democrats, right-wing U.K. Independence Party, Welsh and Scottish nationalists and Greens.

They'll have two hours to sway voters, who currently look set to deny any party a parliamentary majority.

Debates can transform a campaign. In 2010, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg's performance sparked a wave of "Clegg-mania" that sent poll ratings soaring. On polling day the party took a quarter of votes; Clegg became deputy prime minister.