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  Europe
UK Election Results
Britain Has a Hung Parliament
By Shane Clarke
London Correspondent
British PM Gordon Brown

Britain has a hung Parliament for the first time since 1974. With no party reaching the target of 326 seats for an outright majority, no party can effectively run the country and pass bills through the House of Commons without forming a coalition with others, namely the Liberal Democrats, who themselves had a disappointing result.

It was a strange night overall, mainly due to the fact that it was fairly uneventful. As results came in, they showed no pattern forming, they didn’t reconcile with the exit polls carried out by television stations, and there was none of the excitement of the landslide victory that Labour enjoyed when they swept to power 13 years ago. Frankly, it was a comparatively dull election.

People had expected a measure of voter apathy following the Parliamentary scandals over the past year or so, but this did not materialise as large numbers turned out to vote. In fact, such was the unexpected turnout that some people had to be turned away from a number of polling stations because the staff simply couldn’t cope with the numbers. This led to protests and angry scenes, with voters complaining that they had been disenfranchised. The Electoral Commission has promised a “thorough review” of what went wrong with these polling stations.

The results for the three main parties (with two seats yet to be declared) are: Conservatives – 305; Labour – 258; Liberal Democrats – 57.

Although the Conservatives won the most seats, they will not automatically take control and form a Government since they don’t have an outright majority. This means that Gordon Brown, as the incumbent Prime Minister, will remain so until all is settled and a government is formed. There will be frantic negotiations taking place over the next few days as Labour and Conservative vie to win the Liberal Democrats’ support, making Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, essentially the most powerful man in the country, despite only gaining 57 seats. Since no one has an outright majority they need an alliance with Clegg to govern effectively. Unfortunately for Labour, even with the support of the Lib Dems they will not have an outright majority and would have to form a minority government, which would make it very difficult for them to run the country.

If Gordon Brown chooses to resign, then the Queen will invite David Cameron, as leader of the opposition, to form a government. Should this happen, then the Conservatives will have to form an alliance with the Liberal Democrats or they will have a minority government.

Nick Clegg has said throughout the campaign that the party with the most seats should be given the chance to lead the country, and on Friday he said he still stood by this. If he sticks to his words, then he will form an alliance with Cameron, despite comments made by Paddy Ashdown, former Lib Dems leader, that the gulf between the two parties’ policies is too wide.

There are other parties to approach to form an alliance and a majority government, such as the unionist parties in Northern Ireland. However, with the Liberal Democrats having so many seats, it is they who will be courted the most fervently over the coming days.

It is expected that everything will be resolved in a matter of days, but there is actually no formal deadline for when a government must be formed. The 25th May is significant because that is when the Queen delivers her speech on government priorities during Parliament.

Worst case scenario is another election. However, this is highly unlikely because it will be extremely costly, and there is nothing to say that voters will change their minds in such a short time.

So, telephones will be ringing off the hook in Whitehall over the next few days as negotiations take place. No one can say with any certainty who will be sitting in 10 Downing Street this time next month, but one thing is for sure – the coming days will be a lot more interesting than the election itself.



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Shane Clarke serves as London Correspondent for The Seoul Times. He has been involved in humanitarian work for numerous years. He’s also a freelance management consultant. Having completed an honors degree in Law at Wolverhampton University, he then moved on to an MBA at Warwick Business School. He’s heavily involved in the fight against international parental child abduction to Japan.

 

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