Power-sharing talks delicately poised in UK


London : Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was meeting his party’s MPs Monday afternoon to discuss a power-sharing deal with the Conservatives three days after last week’s general election result ended in deadlock.

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On the table was also the possibility of a Lib Dem coalition with Labour, after it lost over 90 seats at the elections, but both deals are complicated and politically sensitive.

The Lib Dems are much closer ideologically with Labour and entering a power-sharing arrangement risks being smeared as propping up Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s defeated government and would also require support from Scottish, Welsh and Irish nationalists.

The added dilemma for Clegg, who needs to gain at least 75 per cent of support from his party, is that Labour, unlike the Conservatives, are offering a referendum on electoral reform, one of the Lib Dems’ key aims.

Although the parties have been in negotiations for the past two days, few details have been revealed about the most likely deal with the Conservatives, whether it will be a coalition government or a more limited pact to support a minority Conservative government.

Any decision was seen to be delicately poised and depending on whether Clegg can gain support from his MPs as well as the party’s federal policy committee.

In the background, a second protest was being held by electoral reform campaign groups to put further pressure on Liberal Democrat leader not to water down his party’s commitment to include a fairer voting system.