Clegg outlines key priorities in British power-sharing talks

8th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg highlighted electoral reform as one of his four key priorities for any power-sharing deal with the Conservatives Saturday as he began strategy talks with his party.

The day after the election produced Britain's first hung parliament since 1974, Clegg -- whose party came third and is now playing the role of kingmaker -- said the negotiations were taking place in a "constructive spirit".

But he said he would be guided by the Lib Dems' four key manifesto pledges on tax reform, schools, the economy and crucially, the "fundamental" reform of the voting system -- something the Conservatives have opposed in the past.

"We will very much be making the case for the big four priorities that we've always said, well before this election took place, would always guide us," Clegg told reporters as he entered discussions on the party's strategy with senior Lib Dem lawmakers in central London.

Electoral reform is likely to be the biggest sticking point in any deal with David Cameron's Conservatives, who won the most seats in Thursday's general election but not the overall majority that would enable them to form a government alone.

The Lib Dems want to change Britain's first-past-the-post voting system, which penalises small parties but produces a clear result, to a system of proportional representation, something the Conservatives oppose.

Clegg outlined his party's four main policy priorities.

"Firstly fair tax reform, secondly a new approach in education to provide the fair start that all children deserve in school, thirdly a new approach to the economy so we can build a new economy from the rubble of the old, and fourthly fundamental political reform to our political system."

© 2010 AFP

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