As dust clears in U.K. election, Brown hints at coalition
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Thursday, May 6, 2010 11:02PM EDT
Exit polls suggest Britain is heading for a minority government, with the Conservatives more than a dozen seats short of a majority. But Prime Minister Gordon Brown has suggested he may try to form an alliance to remain in power.
An exit poll for BBC, Sky and ITV projected that the Tories would secure 307 seats, while Labour would win 255 and the Liberal Democrats 61. Smaller parties would take 29 seats.
Those results would confirm predictions about the election -- that it would produce a "hung Parliament," as minority governments are known in Britain. A total of 326 seats are needed to form a majority.
The election's expected outcome also raised concerns as to whether a minority government would affect Britain's recovery from a bruising recession, which has left the public saddled with a US$236 billion deficit.
Should the projected results hold, Brown could try to form a coalition with smaller parties. According to parliamentary convention, the party in power normally gets the first chance to form an alliance.
Overnight on Thursday, Brown called for election reform, which is something the Liberal Democrats had been asking for. A Labour-Liberal Democrat alliance could allow Brown to remain in power.
The British Parliament was in need of "strong, stable and principled government" to help economy recover, Brown said after winning his district of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, in Scotland.
The Conservatives were also jockeying for position. Leader David Cameron said voters had asked for change, which would "require new leadership."
A senior Conservative lawmaker, Theresa May, said Brown had lost "the legitimacy to govern" as the ballots were being tallied.
Officials were expecting a higher turnout than in the 2005 election, when 61 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot.
"This could go down as one of the most revolutionary elections in the history of this country," said Bill Jones, a political analyst at Liverpool Hope University.
Hundreds of voters across the country were unable to cast a ballot by the time polls closed at 10 p.m. ET. Fifty residents in east London staged a sit-in after they were turned away at a voting station. Similar complaints were reported in Sheffield, Newcastle and other areas of London.
An official from the country's Electoral Commission said it was likely they would see legal challenges from those who were unable to vote.
Cameron led in the polls for months, selling the British public on his brand of environmentally friendly "compassionate Conservatism." A win for his party could bring it to power for the first time in 13 years.
The Liberal Democrats' Nick Clegg grabbed attention in the first televised debate. He was touted to win far more than 61 seats, but remains in position to hold a kingmaker role.
Brown, who has served as prime minister since 2007, argued that he was the safest bet to help the country recover economically. By the end of his campaign, however, there were doubts about his leadership. Days before the election, he was caught speaking of an elderly voter as a "bigoted woman" and had to apologize.
Winning 255 seats would be the Labour party's worst election showing since 1987.
The projected results were still subject to change because they are based on samples of voters and are subject to a margin of error.
With files from The Associated Press