Hung parliament in Britain sparks intense power struggle (Evening Lead)

Posted by on May 7th, 2010 and filed under International, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

London, May 7 (IANS) Britain headed Friday to its first hung parliament since 1974 after the Labour lost its parliamentary majority and the Conservatives struggled to cross the half-way mark, leaving the Liberal Democrats to play the crucial kingmaker’s role.

Despite suffering terrible reverses that left the Labour in the second spot, Prime Minister Gordown Brown insisted it was his duty to give Britain ‘a strong, stable and principled government’.

But Conservative leader David Cameron, whose party has grabbed the most seats in the 650-member parliament but short of an outright majority, insisted that Brown had lost the mandate of Britons who voted Thursday in one of the most bitterly fought elections.

With results out for most of the 649 constituencies (balloting will take place for one seat May 27), the Conservatives have grabbed 291 seats. The Labour trail with 251 and the smaller Liberal Democrat have 52 seats in their kitty.

Key Labour strategist Peter Mandelson said they could seek to form a government as ‘the rules are that if it’s a hung parliament, it’s not the party with the largest number of seats that has first go – it’s the sitting government’.

But not wanting to take chances, the Labour reached out to Nick Clegg, the charismatic Liberal Democrat leader.

Under the unwritten rules of Britain’s constitution, the sitting prime minister has the first option to ask Queen Elizabeth II for the chance to form a government.

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

Clegg said his party would meet Saturday to consider whether to enter into an alliance with Labour or Conservatives.

But although many had stated that Clegg would be the man to watch out after the election, the Liberal Democrats admitted that the hype failed to convert into votes.

‘We simply haven’t achieved what we had hoped,’ Clegg said.

People of Indian origin voted enthusiastically across Britain. At least three Indian origin Labour candidates won. But some of their colleagues were humbled.

The notable winners were veteran Keith Vaz as well as Virendra Sharma and Marsha Singh. Among the losers were Parmjit Dhanda and Manish Sood.

With 650 constituencies and 4,150 candidates, more than 44 million people were eligible to vote.

Tens of thousands, however, could not exercise their right after the polling stations were unable to cope with a late surge.

Political pundits admitted it won’t be possible for the Tories to reach the minimum magic mark of 326 seats required to get a majority and form a government.

The final official result is expected later Friday.

The last British hung parliament was in 1974, when too the Liberal vote rose, damaging the Conservatives more than the Labour.

The then Conservative government watched its majority slip away. The end result was Labour had 301 seats, the Conservatives 297 and the Liberals 14.

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