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Brown, Cameroon win as experts hint coalition govt

07 May, 2010

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LONDON: Britain was plunged into political limbo on Friday as the opposition Conservatives came top in a knife-edge general election but failed to deliver an immediate knock-out blow to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Both former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and opposition leader David Cameroon clinched success in their constituency.

While Conservative leader David Cameron insisted Brown had lost his mandate, key allies of the prime minister indicated his party would bid to cling to power in a deal with the third party, the centrist Liberal Democrats.

Brown`s de facto deputy Peter Mandelson said Labour would "obviously" be prepared to consider such an alliance while another senior cabinet minister, Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, said the prime minister was entitled to have first shot at trying to form a government.

Brown himself also appeared to indicate he wanted to stay in power, raising the possibility of several uncertain days of horse-trading.

Exit polls showed the Conservatives were in line to win around 305 seats -- 21 short of an overall majority of 326 in the 650-seat House of Commons -- against 255 for the Labour party and 61 for the Liberal Democrats.

If confirmed, the forecast would leave Britain with a so-called "hung parliament", where no one party has a clear majority, for the first time since 1974.

The Conservatives had won 147 seats, Labour 120 and the Liberal Democrats 23 -- on target to be far short of the breakthrough predicted for Nick Clegg`s party during the election campaign.

More than 45 million voters were eligible to cast ballots, with observers predicting turnout could be as high as 70 percent after an unusual campaign transformed by the first televised leaders` debates in a British election.


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