UK election produces no clear result
The UK's centre-left and centre-right are in a tug-of-war as of Friday morning as exit polls and a majority of results officially declared suggest David Cameron's Tories have been unable to win an outright majority.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party is attempting to convince the centrist Liberal Democrats to form a progressive coalition while the Conservatives are claiming their social-democratic opponents have lost the mandate to govern.
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The liberals' Nick Clegg, the favoured candidate of EU institutional figures for his strong pro-EU stance and background in Brussels and Strasbourg, however failed to capitalise on the ‘Cleggmania' that materialised in the wake of his performance in TV debates, with his party actually losing seats, according to exit polls.
Initial predictions show the Conservatives have the most seats and votes, eclipsing Labour as the largest party, on 307 - short of the 326 needed for a majority.
Labour is on 255 and the Liberal Democrats on 59, down from 63, according to the same initial exit poll.
The Tories are now piling the pressure on Mr Brown's party, calling on the prime minister to concede defeat.
"I believe it's already clear that the Labour government has lost its mandate to govern our country. The Conservative party is on target to win more seats at this election than we have done at any election in perhaps as long as 80 years," said Mr Cameron in the wake of the mixed results.
"What's clear from these results is that the country, our country, wants change. That change is going to require new leadership and we will stand ready to do all we can to help bring that leadership."
Mr Brown for his part, like most Labour representatives interviewed in the last few hours, underscored the need for "stable government" amidst the ongoing economic rollercoaster.
"My duty to the country coming out of this election is to play my part in Britain having a strong, stable and principled government able to lead Britain into sustained economic recovery and able to implement our commitments to far-reaching reform upon which there is a growing consensus in our country," he said.
The prime minister has flown down to London from his Scottish constituency to launch bargaining with the Liberal Democrats in return for reforms to do away with the UK's first-past-the-post electoral system in favour of proportional representation.
The Conservatives' share of the vote came to a predicted 36 percent. Labour won 27, meeting with pre-election poll expections, and the Liberal Democrats were on 23 percent, down about four percent on such polls, but still up one percent on the 2005 general election.
As of 8am UK time, with 602 or 649 constituencies declared, the Conservatives had 286 seats, Labour 222, the Liberal Democrats 51, with 43 seats going to minor or regional parties.
In the constituency of Brighton-Pavillion, the Greens won their first ever MP, the party's leader and one of its two MEPs, Caroline Lucas.
David Cameron may yet become prime minister however. Conservative spin merchants say the party is on track to win 314 seats, which could be enough to form a working government with the support of Unionists in Northern Ireland.
The Guardian is reporting that according to aides, the Labour Party will concede defeat and abandon attempts to form a coalition with the Liberals if the Tories achieve 320 seats.