British Tories seek 3rd-place party's support
Labour leader says he respects other parties' discussions
British Conservative Leader David Cameron says he is ready to lead his country with the help of third-place Liberal Democratic Leader Nick Clegg after Thursday's general election failed to result in a majority government.
David Cameron's Conservative Party won the most seats — but fell short of the 326 needed for a majority and clear defeat of Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
"I want to make a big, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats," Cameron said Friday.
"I want us to work together in tackling our country's big and urgent problems — the debt crisis, our deep social problems and our broken political system."
For the latest results, visit the BBC's election 2010 results page.
The United Kingdom — made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — hasn't had a hung Parliament, or minority government, since 1974.
In the past, the sitting prime minister has been given the first chance to try to form a government — even if his party didn't win the largest number of seats.
Results showed the Conservatives won 306 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons. Labour won 258 seats, the Liberal Democrats 57 and smaller parties 28.
Cameron lauded the performance of Conservative candidates and said the strong gains by the Tories implied that Labour had lost its mandate to govern.
"We find ourselves in a position unknown to this generation of political leaders," Brown said Friday in a statement outside his 10 Downing Street residence.
Brown, who gave no indication he is prepared to concede, said he respected Clegg's desire to hold discussions with the Tories first — but he noted he would also be open to holding discussions with Clegg's party.
Earlier Friday, Clegg said the Conservatives should be given the "first right" to form a government because they won the most seats.
Cameron could try to pursue a minority government that would seek support from other parties on a case-by-case basis, but he has chosen to pursue what he calls a "stronger, more stable" government.
The Tory leader said the U.K. needs a "decisive government" that would be able to reassure international markets and help spur economic recovery, noting that election issues must be sorted out quickly "for the good of the country."
In his proposal, Cameron acknowledged there are policy disagreements between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.
He suggested the Tories would promise to implement parts of the Liberal Democrats' election manifesto — but stopped short of offering to fulfil their demand for an overhaul of Britain's electoral system.
"Inevitably, the negotiations we're about to start will involve compromise," Cameron said. "That is what working together in the national interest means."
Putting out feelers
Brown said if negotiations between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats fail, he would be prepared to discuss "areas where there may be some measure of agreement" with the Liberal Democrats.
Those areas would likely include economic stability issues and political reform, Brown said.
Some analysts have said that Britain's budget deficit could outstrip the deficit in Greece, and whichever party wins the right to govern faces the daunting challenge of introducing big government spending cuts to slash the massive deficit.
While politicians try to determine how Britain will be governed, a number of voters expressed frustration about how polling booths were staffed.
The turnout for Thursday's vote was high, with long lines at polling stations. Hundreds of people across the country were prevented from voting before polls closed at 10 p.m., the BBC reported.
The head of Britain's Electoral Commission said legal challenges to some ballot results were likely from those turned away.
Police had to go to one polling station in east London after 50 angry residents denied the chance to vote staged a sit-in protest. Voters in Sheffield, Newcastle and elsewhere in London also complained that they had been blocked from voting.
With files from The Associated Press