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Britain in political limbo after vote

Britain's George Galloway fails to win re-election
London (AFP) May 7, 2010 - Controversial British left-wing firebrand George Galloway failed to win re-election in Britain's vote Friday. The outspoken Scot, who left the ruling Labour party over the Iraq war, failed in his challenge in the seat of Poplar and Limehouse in east London, near where he was elected in Bethnal Green and Bow five years ago. Galloway is a controversial figure abroad, having been banned from Egypt after joining an aid convoy to Gaza earlier this year, and from Canada because of his donations to the Hamas-run government in the Palestinian territory. At home he caused a storm in 2006 by agreeing to appear in Celebrity Big Brother -- while he was an MP -- and was widely mocked for donning a skin-tight red catsuit and purring during a game on the reality TV show. He was not present when the results were announced Friday, returning the constituency's Labour lawmaker, Jim Fitzpatrick.
by Staff Writers
London (UPI) May 7, 2010
Britons on Friday woke up to political uncertainty and the prospect for the first hung Parliament since 1974 after no party won an outright majority in Thursday's general election.

"Hand me the keys to Downing Street" -- that's how Conservative Party leader David Cameron might have thought after final results began to trickle.

After 642 of 650 seats in Britain's Parliament had been declared, Cameron's conservatives won 306 seats, ahead of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labor Party, which took 258 seats.

"The Labor government has lost its mandate to govern our country," Cameron said early Friday. "Our country wants change. That change is going to require new leadership."

Well -- it's not as simple as that. Any single party needs 326 seats to form a majority government and that won't happen, so Britain is headed for its first hung Parliament in nearly four decades.

Coalition talks are expected to be lengthy and difficult, with Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, whose party won 57 seats, in the position to make or break a government.

While Clegg has indicated the Conservatives should get the first shot at a government, incumbent Brown won't go down with a fight.

The prime minister returned to Downing Street Friday and will draw up an offer to Clegg's Liberal Democrats to form a coalition government, officials from his party said.

"The outcome of this country's vote is not yet known," Brown said. "But my duty to the country coming out of this election is to play my part in Britain having a strong, stable and principled government able to lead Britain into sustained economic recovery."

Senior Labor officials said that under the rules of Britain's constitution, the sitting prime minister in a hung Parliament makes the first attempt at forming a ruling coalition -- so it could be Brown's turn again.

Clegg, who had performed strongly in televised debates ahead of the vote but failed to turn it into electoral support, urged rivals Cameron and Brown not to delay the formation of government.

"It is vital that all parties, all political leaders, act in the national interest and not out of narrow party political advantage," he said.

A new government would have to act swiftly to turn around Britain's ailing economy and consolidate the federal budget. Any delay would only worsen the country's troubles, observers say.

Meanwhile, it surfaced that hundreds of voters were turned away from polling stations all over Britain as the extremely high turnout overwhelmed election workers.

Voters queuing outside the polling stations in parts of London, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle and Surrey were sent home as the election deadline passed, BBC News reports.

Officials have announced to investigate the incidents.

"There should have been sufficient resources allocated to ensure that everyone who wished to vote was able to do so," Britain's Electoral Commission said in a statement.

All three leaders expressed their concerns over the incidents. As some election results may be challenged, the uncertainty over Thursday's vote will likely continue for days.

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Japan PM under fire over US base U-turn
Tokyo (AFP) May 5, 2010
Japan's embattled Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama faced a barrage of criticism on Wednesday after his U-turn on the relocation of a US base, with calls mounting for him to quit ahead of key elections in July. Major newspapers railed against his decision to scrap plans to move an unpopular US airbase entirely off the island of Okinawa after months of dithering over the issue that angered close ... read more

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