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UK set for India-style coalition politics

world Updated: May 07, 2010 13:18 IST
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With over 550 seats declared out of 649, Britain on Friday clearly headed into an India-style phase of coalition politics with none of the major parties on course to achieve majority, as Conservatives appeared to emerge as the single largest party leaving the ruling Labour party behind.

With most election results declared, the Conservative party had won 273, Labour 223, Liberal Democrats 47 and others 27.

History was created when two Indian-origin women - Priti Patel (Conservative) and Valerie Vaz, sister of Labour MP Keith Vaz - were declared elected.

Never in the history of House of Commons were Asian women elected as MPs.

Vaz himself retained his seat in Leicester East though his vote share got reduced by 5 per cent from the last elections.

It is the first time a brother-sister duo is being elected to the House of Commons.

The term 'horse-trading', better known in the lexicon of Indian coalition politics, has become the buzzword as leaders of main parties try to cobble a majority.

The biggest disappointment of the election has been the fate of Liberal Democrats, whose leader Nick Clegg had been catapulted to top billing after the first of the three television debates.

The party hoped to win over 100 seats, but is struggling to retain the number its seats in the last House - 62.

Conservative leader David Cameron declared that Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Labour party had lost the mandate to rule after his party was clearly on course to emerge as the largest single party.

"Our country wants change. That change is going to require new leadership," Cameron said. He also indicated that he will enter into negotiations to determine who will form the next government.

"What will guide me will be our national interest," he said.

Brown, on the other hand, insisted that it was his duty to ensure that Britain had a 'strong, stable and principled' government, which pointed towards a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

"The outcome of this country's vote is not yet known but my duty to the country out of this election is to play my part in Britain having a strong, stable and principled government," he said.

But a Labour-Liberal Democrats coalition may still not have the required majority figure of 326 in a House of Commons with a strength of 649.