May 7, 2010


Tories Gain but Fail to Take Parliament (JOHN F. BURNS and ALAN COWELL, 5/07/10, NY Times)

The Conservatives, led by David Cameron, were set to win the largest number of seats but not an outright majority. Labour, seeking a fourth term, lagged in second place while the third party, the left-of-center Liberal Democrats, failed to make the gains forecast before Thursday’s vote.

Without an unassailable victory, Mr. Cameron — and the country — could be heading for days of agonizing uncertainty as the two main parties set about trying to outmaneuver each other for power.

Under Britain’s uncodified constitution, parties with a plurality of the votes may form a minority government, as happened in the 1970s, but the rules also permit the incumbent prime minister to remain in office and try to negotiate an alliance.

But any new government must be able to withstand an early confidence vote in Parliament.

In any event, the result seemed to spell the end of a 13-year run of undiluted Labour power that began with a landslide victory for Tony Blair in 1997.

By mid-morning on Friday, the Conservatives had gained 92 parliamentary seats, Labour had lost 86 and the Liberal Democrats were down by six seats compared to the 2005 vote. The Conservatives also won the largest number of votes with an estimated 36 percent of the ballot compared to 29 percent for Labour and 23 percent for the Liberal Democrats.

A BBC projection forecast that the Conservatives would secure 306 seats, Labour 261 and the Liberal Democrats an unexpectedly low 54.

The electoral math seemed to have left even the most experienced politicians baffled about what the vote meant. co-opting the Lib-Dems and their agenda

Nick Clegg: We simply didn't get what we hoped (Evening Standard, 07.05.10)

Nick Clegg expressed his disappointment at the Liberal Democrats' poor showing in the general election.

The party's share of the vote has increased by about one per cent but this has failed to translate into seats, with polls and results showing that it is unlikely to increase its numbers of MPs. [...]

Lib-Dem MPs and peers will hold a private meeting tomorrow as part of the process which would allow Mr Clegg to enter into a coalition with either Gordon Brown or David Cameron.

Under the complex “triple lock” system, Mr Clegg needs the support of the parliamentary party and the Lib-Dems' ruling federal executive in order to strike a deal.

UK's top 2 parties locked in election standoff (JILL LAWLESS and JENNIFER QUINN, Associated Press)
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg dented Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown's hopes of staying in power by calling on the Conservatives to try to form a government, without indicating whether his centrist party would be willing to join a coalition.

As sitting prime minister, Brown would traditionally be given the first chance to put together a government. His left-of-center Labour party is seen as a more natural coalition fit with the Lib Dems, the third-place party now thrust into the role of potential kingmaker.

But Clegg said the party that had gained the most seats and the most votes — the Conservatives — should have "the first right to seek to govern."

"I think it is now for the Conservative Party to prove that it is capable of seeking to govern in the national interest," he said,

This was the best environment they'll ever have and they did nothing. There is no justification for the party particularly with a more openly Third Way Tory Party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 7, 2010 5:10 AM
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