uk-election-cp8624067

Liberal Democrat demonstrators rally Saturday to demand party leader Nick Clegg stick to his demands for a fair electoral system during power-sharing talks. ((Sang Tan/Associated Press))

British Conservative Leader David Cameron met with Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg on Saturday to discuss a possible power-sharing agreement after the national election failed to produce a majority government.

A spokesman for the Conservative Party said the meeting lasted more than an hour and that the talks had been "constructive and amicable." More talks are scheduled Sunday.

In an email sent to supporters Saturday night, Cameron said he made a "big, open and comprehensive offer to Liberal Democrats" in order to work together for the "national interest."

Cameron said his party would stand firm on certain issues and would not give more powers to Brussels [the headquarters of the European Union], be weak on immigration or put the country's defences at risk."

But he said there some areas of common ground, including the need for education reform, building a low-carbon economy, and reforming the political system, decentralizing power, protecting civil liberties and scrapping identification cards.

"There are also areas where I believe we in the Conservative Party can give ground, both in the national interest and in the interests of forging an open and trusting partnership," he said.

He said he wants to work with the Liberal Democrats in an effort to reduce taxes on low-income earners. He said he hopes the Liberal Democrats would reciprocate on the issue of tackling the deficit.

"Inevitably, these negotiations will involve compromise. But that's what working together in the national interest means. I hope we can sort things out as quickly as possible, for the good of the country. But we won't rush into any agreement."

Cameron's Conservative Party won 306 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons — short of the 326 needed for a majority and clear defeat of Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Labour won 258 seats, the Liberal Democrats 57 and smaller parties 28. 

Backing from the Liberal Democrats would give the Conservatives the votes they need to pass legislation.

More than 1,000 Liberal Democrat supporters demonstrated outside the building where party officials were meeting on Saturday, saying any deal Clegg makes should include electoral reform. Clegg has been advocating changing the system to a form of proportional representation.  

But so far, Cameron has stopped short of endorsing that demand, instead proposing a committee of inquiry into the issue.

Brown has offered to legislate for a referendum on a change in the voting system. He has said that 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.

Clegg said the Conservatives should be given the "first right" to form a government because they won the most seats.

With files from The Associated Press