Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair has called a national election for May 5.

Mr. Blair made the announcement Tuesday after asking Queen Elizabeth for permission to dissolve parliament, in line with pre-election protocol.

The prime minister had been expected to call the election, with Britain enjoying a strong economy.

Several opinion polls published today show Mr. Blair's Labor Party with a lead of two to five percentage points.

The main opposition parties hope to overcome that lead by highlighting Mr. Blair's support for the war in Iraq, which remains largely unpopular in Britain.

The Labor Party enters the race with a commanding 161-seat majority in parliament. Mr. Blair will be seeking his third term in office, following landslide victories in 1997 and 2001.

Some information for this report provided by AP, Reuters and AFP.