Clegg the kingmaker in UK's hung parliament
The leader of Britain’s minority Liberal Democrats has called on the Conservative party to prove that it deserves his party’s support in forming a government. Results from Thursday’s general election show no party with a clear majority in parliament and leave Clegg’s party as kingmaker.
With the result in about 20 seats still to be announced, David Cameron’s Conservative party had won the most seats. But it cannot rule without support from minority parties, the largest of which is the Liberal Democrats.
“It seems this morning that it’s the Conservative party that has more votes and more seats, though not an absolute majority,” Clegg said on Friday morning. “And that is why I think it is now for the Conservative party to prove that it is capable of seeking to govern in the national interest.”
But, with his party winning nearly 25 per cent of the votes cast but only just over 50 of the 650 seats, he made it clear that electoral reform will be the price to be paid for his support.
Labour’s Gordon Brown has yet to resign as Prime Minister and officials of his party have hinted that they are ready to do a deal.
Other small parties have won about 27 seats in the new parliament.
They include Ulster Unionists, who are traditional allies of the Tories, and Scottish Nationalists, Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic Labour and Alliance parties and Britain’s first-ever Green MP, who usually stand closer to Labour.
But neither Labour nor the Tories can muster enough support to form even a minority government without Liberal Democrat support.
The last minority government was in the 1970s, when Labour was kept in power by the support of the Lib-Dems’ predecessors, the Liberals.
The logjam could tempt one of the top two parties to offer seats in a coalition government to the smaller parties.
But coalitions have only been seen in times of deep crisis in the past. The last was under Winston Churchill during World War II. The previous one was the National government under Ramsay MacDonald, who split from Labour, which lasted from 1931-1935.
The pound slumped to a 13-month low against the dollar on Friday but the Moody’s rating agency said that the confusion “does no directly threaten” Britain’s top-level rating.