Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister, has, on his return from an audience with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace this morning, confirmed that the next United Kingdom general election will take place on May 6th, 2010.
s political editor, Nick Robinson, reported last night that the Right Honorable Gordon Brown MP, the British Prime Minister, will today have visited the Palace to formally ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament and thus declare the general election campaign officially underway.
Speaking in front of the world's assembled media and in front of the famous black door of 10 Downing Street, the UK Prime Minister's official residence, Mr. Brown stated that he was "not a team of one, but one of a team", and called upon the electorate to confirm him as the best candidate to lead the country forward.
Mr. Brown, in fact, succeeded Tony Blair as Prime Minister (when the latter resigned after over two terms in office) without needing, under British law, a new mandate from the nationals of the United Kingdom. This is, therefore, the first time that he will be facing the public vote in a year when, according to British law and convention, a general election had to be called.
Mr. Brown will be challenged in the race for the Premiership primarily by the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, the Right Honorable David Cameron MP, the leader of the Conservative (Tory) Party, but also by the Right Honorable Nick Clegg MP and his Liberal Democrat party, traditionally Britain's "3rd party", as well as by the leaders of a host of other, smaller parties.
Mr. Cameron, the Conservative party leader, made a short speech himself before the Prime Minister's speech, urging voters not to settle for what they already have, but to "demand" and expect better things from "one of the richest countries in the world".
British experts and opinion polls suggest that the election result itself is probably too close to call at the moment, opinion polls currently indicating that the possibility of a "hung Parliament" (i.e. a situation whereby no party has a working majority in order to be able to govern on its own) could be a real one at this particular general election.
So, for informative purposes only, what happens in the hypothetical situation of a "hung Parliament" electoral result?
If a "hung Parliament" electoral result is indeed to happen, then, by convention, the Monarch selects a Prime Minister to govern until the situation is resolved, either by the formation of a coalition between parties, or, more unlikely, by the calling of another general election.
In practice, what has happened before is that the current Prime Minister remains in power until he or she is able to form a coalition, or until he or she has to resign as a result of failing to secure, through a coalition or otherwise, a working majority in order to govern.
As part of the election campaign, Prime Minister Brown will be facing live televised debates between him and the other two main party leaders for the first time in the history of British general election campaigns.