London — Millions of Britons voted in local elections Thursday with the outcome in doubt because of the Falklands conflict, 8,000 miles away in the South Atlantic.
Recent opinion polls had showed Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party riding high on a wave of patriotic fervor over the dispatch of a naval task force to blockade the Falklands. But political commentators said the sinking of the British destroyer Sheffield Tuesday could produce a backlash against the government.
The Conservative Party, midway through a five-year term of tough economic rule with record unemployment, would normally have expected to lose ground to the Labour Party and the Social Democratic-Liberal alliance in contests for 5, 300 local government seats in England and Scotland. Commentators said the elections promised to be the most fascinating in decades. Elections were held in all major urban areas and about a third of the rural districts in England and in the nine regional and three island authorities in Scotland.