In uncertain Britain, Liberal Democrats ponder

May 8th, 2010 - 5:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon Brown London, May 8 (IANS) Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who has emerged as the kingmaker after British elections threw up the first hung parliament since 1974, is meeting his MPs Saturday to discuss offers from both the Conservatives and the ruling Labour to form a new government.
Clegg will meet his front bench MPs and his wider parliamentary party separately by noon to discuss Tory leader David Cameron’s proposals to form a coalition government, BBC said. Liberal Democrats have a crucial bloc of 57 seats in the new House of Commons.

According to BBC, the party’s federal executive will meet Saturday evening but a final decision on who to go with is not expected.

Britain’s general election results produced a stalemate Friday, stripping the Labour of its governing majority and putting the Conservatives on top of a fractured parliament but short of the numbers to take power. It left the third placed Liberal Democrats in a position to call the shots.

An intense battle for power has ensued. Both Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative leader Cameron have said they would enter into talks with the Liberal Democrats to provide a stable government.

The Conservative Party has got 306 seats but fallen short of the 326-simple majority mark in the 650-member house.

The Labour, which has ruled Britain for 13 years, ended up with 258 seats. One constituency will see balloting May 27.

The Conservatives gained 36 percent of the popular vote share, the Labour 29 percent and the Liberal Democrats 22.9 percent.

Brown, who appears determined to stay on in his job despite heavy Labour losses, offered the Liberal Democrats a referendum and swift legislation on electoral reform in what he called a “progressive pact” to prevent a Conservative government.

But Cameron said that Brown had lost his mandate to govern, and also offered the Liberals “comprehensive talks” on cooperation in the “national interest”.

Liberal leader Clegg has said he was ready to talk to the Conservatives first because they had emerged as the biggest party.

Clegg said he had always believed that the “party with the most votes and the most seats” should have the first chance to form a government. “I stick to this view,” he said.

But there were clear signs that the process would be drawn out.

Meanwhile, there were no signs that Queen Elizabeth II, who would have to “invite” the future government leader, was in any hurry to do so.

The monarch was unlikely to become involved until the situation became clear, constitutional experts said.

Under the unwritten rules of Britain’s constitution, the sitting prime minister can first ask Queen Elizabeth II for the chance to form a government in case of hung parliament.

However, convention also states that the party with the most seats has the “moral” right to ask to form a government.

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