Correspondent's Choice

This story about the UK general election result was published by EurActiv on 7th May 2010.

Preliminary results early on 7 May show that Britain’s opposition Conservatives look on course to become the largest party in parliament after the closest election in three decades. But the UK looks set for a hung parliament without a clear majority, leaving it uncertain who will eventually run the country.

With just under 90% of results declared by early Friday, the centre-right Conservatives had 285 seats to the ruling Labour party’s 232.

Conservative leader David Cameron said it was clear the ruling Labour party “had lost its mandate to govern”.

However, Labour politicians stressed Britain’s constitution gave current Prime Minister Gordon Brown the right to try to form a government first. He would struggle to do so with the third-placed Liberal Democrats, however, since their combined forecast seats would still be short of a majority in parliament.

The prospect of the first inconclusive election since 1974 and uncertainty about who would form the next government is likely to trouble already febrile financial markets.

Focus will switch on Friday to which parties enter into talks with one other. They will be assisted by civil servants who have prepared briefing documents outlining key elements of party proposals and their costs.

A sense of confusion was heightened by reports that hundreds of voters had been turned away from crowded polling stations across the country when voting ended at 22:00 local time.

Results from the 650 seats rolled in against a backdrop of global market turmoil following a huge sell-off on Wall Street and the fall-out from the Greek debt crisis.

The pound slumped against the dollar, while equity futures tumbled and gilt futures soared, with markets fretting over the uncertainty but more concerned by turmoil on other exchanges.

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