The political horse trading to decide who rules Britain continues today, after Thursday’s general election resulted in a hung parliament.
Nick Clegg, leader of the party with the third-largest number of seats in the House of Commons, the Liberal Democrats, has met senior Lib Dem MPs to discuss a power-sharing offer from the Tories, who won the largest number of seats on Thursday, but not enough to create an overall majority.
Clegg has stressed that his priorities include “fundamental political reform” but his party would act in a “constructive spirit” in the “coming hours and days,” he has said.
It’s emerged that Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Clegg spoke on the phone on Friday, but details of the conversation are still not clear, with one senior Lib Dem source “saying Mr Brown had ranted at Mr Clegg and another telling the BBC it had been a perfectly amicable conversation,” says the BBC.
Gordon Brown, although Labour now has the second-largest number of seats, remains Prime Minister under Britain’s unwritten constitution. If he can put together a deal with other parties and form a government, he could be invited to Buckingham Palace and asked to do so by the Queen.
General elections in Britain are run under a first-past-the-post system (as opposed to proportional representation), and a party would need an overall majority in order to have won. Currently, that majority would have to be 326 – half the number of seats in the House, plus one.
The Liberal Democrats have always made it a crucial part of their manifesto that they will bring in electoral law reform, including a system of proportional representation.
When it became apparent on Thursday that Labour were not going to get a majority to be able to continue their consecutive 13 years in government, some senior Labour figures were hinting that, in constituencies where Labour stood little chance of winning, supporters might vote Liberal Democrat. The implication was that Labour would be able to do a deal with the Lib Dems to keep the Tories out.
However, it could still become a Tory-led government if talks between Clegg and Tory leader David Cameron result in a deal.