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Talks roll on as support grows for poll reforms

Britain’s Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties continued holding secret talks aimed at striking an unprecedented power-sharing pact as a series of polls suggested growing public support for reforms to the electoral system.

world Updated: May 10, 2010 01:17 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

Britain’s Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties continued holding secret talks aimed at striking an unprecedented power-sharing pact as a series of polls suggested growing public support for reforms to the electoral system.

Aided by three senior civil servants, negotiators for the two parties met on the neutral ground of the Cabinet Office in central London, following a face-to-face meeting between Conservative leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrats chief Nick Clegg on Saturday.

The two sides described the 70-minute meeting, held after a general election returned a hung parliament, as “constructive and amicable” but gave no other details.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has already made overtures to the Liberal Democrats for discussions on an alternative alliance in the event of a collapse of the current talks.

The sticking point in negotiations between the key Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives is likely to be the Lib Dem demand for fundamental reforms to the British electoral system, which is seen as unfair. The Lib Dems want to replace the present first-past-the-post system with proportional representation (PR) but have only been offered an all-party review by the Conservatives.