Clegg says Tories should have first shot at power
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who looks set to play kingmaker in Britain's hung parliament, said Friday the Conservatives had the "first right to seek to govern" after the election.
"I've said that whichever party gets the most votes and the most seats, if not an absolute majority, has the first right to seek to govern either on its own or by reaching out to other parties, and I stick to that view," Clegg said.
"It seems this morning that it is the Conservative Party that has more votes and more seats though not an absolute majority.
"That is why I think it is now for the Conservative Party to prove that it is capable of seeking to govern in the national interest."
Thursday's election gave the Conservatives the most seats in the House of Commons, but not the majority needed to form a government without the support of smaller parties.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour party, which came second, has indicated that it would consider trying to cling to power, possibly with the help of the Liberal Democrats.
This is the first time Clegg has indicated he could work with the Conservatives. Previously it was thought the Liberal Democrats would be more likely to work with Labour, as both are seen as "progressive" parties.
Brown fired the starting gun on the horse-trading Friday by asking the head of the civil service to provide support to parties engaged in discussions about the formation of a government.
He also made clear he was not intending to step down immediately, saying: "It is my duty as prime minister to take all steps to ensure Britain has a strong, stable and principled government."
© 2010 AFP