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Hung parliament after UK polls
Coalition talks set to begin as no party is able to win an outright majority.
Last Modified: 07 May 2010 12:59 GMT
Voters in some British districts reported that they were turned away from polling stations [AFP]

Britain's general election has resulted in a hung parliament, leaving the country uncertain over who will be the next prime minister. 

With 624 seats out of 650 declared, the Conservatives have won 294 seats, Labour have 251 and the Liberal Democrats have captured 52.

That leaves the Conservatives 36 seats short of parliamentary majority, and opens the way for the governing Labour party to open coalition negotiations in an attempt to form a government.

Under the rules set out by the British constitution, the sitting prime minister has the right to try and form a coalition, even if his party has fewer seats than the opposition.

Defiant Brown

Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, has made it clear that he does not intend to step down from his position, saying that he would be prepared to talk to the Liberal Democrats if they are unable to find common ground with the Conservatives.

In a speech made outside Downing Street in London on Friday, Brown added that he was fully in favour of electoral and political reforms, key Liberal Democrat policies.

Hamish Macdonald, Al Jazeera's reporter in London, said he expected a "few raised eyebrows" at Liberal Democrat headquarters over Brown's comments.

"Nick Clegg [the Liberal Democrat leader] has said all along that he believes there should be electoral reform. Brown has essentially laid out his offer."

special report

But Clegg appeared to back the opposition Conservatives right to attempt to form a government.

"I think it's now for the Conservative party to prove that it is capable of seeking to govern in the national interest," he said on Friday morning.  

Earlier David Cameron, the leader of the Conservatives, said that the Labour party had "lost its mandate" to rule.

"I believe it is already clear that the Labour government has lost its mandate to govern our country," Cameron said.

Moral authority

Jonah Hull, Al Jazeera's correspondent at Downing Street, said: "What it comes down to is a question of moral authority.

"It's becoming increasingly clear that no party, neither Labour nor the Conservatives, have an outstanding moral authority to be running this country."

Ruth Fox, the director of the government and parliament programme at the Hansard Society said that she expected to see the uncertainty resolved soon.

"I would expect over the weekend and definitely by Monday to have some sort of resolution," she told Al Jazeera. "Given Nick Clegg's statement today we might get something earlier than that."

While there was no clear winner, the election did throw up some interesting results, including the first ever seat for the Green party, represented by Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavillion.

Two former Labour interior ministers, Jacqui Smith in Redditch and Charles Clarke in Norwich South, lost their seats.

The far-right British National Party failed to make headway in Barking, with Margaret Hodge, the sitting Labour MP, increasing her majority.

Voters turned away

Voters in some British districts reported that they were turned away from polling stations after large queues formed shortly before polls closed at 21:00 GMT.

Britain's electoral commission said on Friday that challenges to some national election results were likely as a result and that they had launched an investigation.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said he will act in the national interest [Reuters]

Problems with people being unable to vote were reported in areas including Milton Keynes in southern England, in Sheffield, the city where Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader holds a seat and Newcastle in northern England.

Police were called in London to one demonstration where 50 people refused to leave a polling centre after officials told them they were too late to vote.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Daniel Hamilton from Comres, a polling organisation, said:
"It's very concerning and I think there's a growing sense of anger among all political parties across the country that there is a feeling that some people, notably in some key marginal seats, appear to have been almost disenfranchised.

"I think whatever happens, whoever forms the government, there will be an urgent inquiry called by the leaders of all the three main political parties.

"For there to be an investigation into why this happened and how this appalling situation can be avoided in the future."

The failure of the election to produce a clear result is likely to keep financial markets under pressure due to concerns about uncertainty over who will form the next government. 

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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