Protest targets British party in power-sharing talks

8th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Some 1,000 protestors staged a noisy rally outside a meeting of Britain's third-placed Liberal Democrat party Saturday, pressing them to insist on voting reform in tense power-sharing talks.

Chanting "fair votes now," the demonstrators rallied outside the central London venue where Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg was holding talks with his party over their stance in talks with the main opposition Conservatives.

Conservative chief David Cameron launched negotiations with the Lib Dems on Friday following a general election which produced a hung parliament, forcing the Tory leader to seek allies to try to form a viable government.

Cameron is firmly opposed to switching Britain's first-past-the-post electoral system for proportional representation, which the Lib Dems have long demanded as they seek a fairer share of power.

Police estimated that some 1,000 protestors -- chanting "We want to speak to Nick" -- marched on the Lib Dem talks' venue from nearby Parliament Square, outside the House of Commons.

"Mr. Clegg has the opportunity of a generation," said Pam Giddy of campaign group Power 2010, calling on the Lib Dems to "stay strong" in pushing for a change in the voting system.

"People want electoral reform," she said.

The Liberal Democrats were disappointed after winning only 57 seats in the election -- five fewer than in the previous parliament -- despite winning nearly a quarter of the popular vote.

© 2010 AFP

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