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Roundup: Our Friends in the UK Had an Election

If you're constantly skimming news from the media maelstrom, you've probably heard that the United Kingdom was gearing up for an election. Well it happened yesterday, and the results are in. We haven't been following it very closely, but here are the big points.

There were three main parties involved. They are, from political right to left: the Conservatives, headed by David Cameron; the Liberal Democrats, headed by Nick Clegg; and the Labour Party, headed by Gordon Brown, the current Prime Minister.

There was a lot of speculation that the Liberal Democrats, who are in the middle of the political spectrum, were going to defy initial expectations and win a bunch of seats. This speculation was driven, in large part, by Clegg's impressive performance in the UK's first-ever pre-election debates. That didn't really pan out.

What did happen is they got a "hung parliament" (cue puerile jokes) because no party won outright. David Cameron's Conservative Party won the most seats, for a current total of about 307, but that leaves him short of the 326 needed for an outright majority. The results are here. In these circumstances the rules are amusingly vague (see here, here, and here).

This decision tree from the BBC helps a bit:

And here are the possibilities for coalition governments.

David Cameron made a speech today in which he seemed to be claiming a mandate and offered to govern a Lib Dem and Conservative coalition. That's what seems likely at this point.

UPDATE: In the initial version of this post, I said that the Liberal Democrats were on the left of the other two parties, but the commenter below is right: Labour is to the left of the Lib Dems. The post has been updated.

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