EurActiv.com Correspondent's Choice

This story about the new coalition government in Britain was published by EurActiv on 12th May 2010.

New Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives and the smaller Liberal Democrat party led by Nick Clegg struck an agreement early today (12 May) to form Britain’s first coalition government since 1945. Clegg is leading the Liberal Democrats back into government for the first time in 70 years.

The agreement between the two parties, reached five days after an inconclusive election, ends 13 years of rule by the centre-left Labour Party under Tony Blair and his successor Gordon Brown.

The untested partnership will have to clean up public finances, with a record budget deficit running at more than 11% of national output.

Markets welcomed the agreement, hopeful that a government led by the centre-right Conservatives will take swift action to bring down spending.

No illusions

“This is going to be hard and difficult work. A coalition will throw up all sorts of challenges. But I believe together we can provide that strong and stable government that our country needs,” Cameron said in his first speech as prime minister.

The Liberal Democrats were also celebrating after decades spent in the shadow of Labour and the Conservatives.

“There will of course be problems, there will of course be glitches. But I will always do my best to prove new politics isn’t just possible, it is also better,” Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who will be deputy prime minister, told reporters.

His party put its final seal of approval on the deal at a meeting that ended after midnight on Tuesday.

Cameron, a 43-year-old former public relations executive, took over as prime minister just hours earlier when Brown admitted defeat in his own efforts to broker a deal with the Liberal Democrats.

He is Britain’s youngest prime minister since 1812, and a few months younger than Tony Blair was when he stormed to power in 1997.

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