Conservatives should have first shot at power: Lib Dem leader

7th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

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," he said.

"It seems this morning that it is the Conservative Party that has more votes and more seats though not an absolute majority," Clegg added.

"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 they fell short of the absolute majority needed to form a government alone.

Less than an hour after Clegg's remarks, the Conservatives announced Cameron would make a statement at 2:30 pm (1330 GMT) to "set out how he will seek to form a government that is strong and stable with broad support, that acts in the national interest".

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour party, which came second in the vote, has also 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."

Conservative leader David Cameron insisted earlier Labour had "lost its mandate to govern" after finishing with the second-biggest party.

© 2010 AFP

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