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Electoral Demand Stalls Coalition Deal in Britain

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NY Times
May 9, 2010

LONDON — Talks about forming a new government resumed Saturday amid concern that continuing uncertainty would shake world financial markets when they reopen Monday, but the prospects of a deal between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats by that deadline appeared slim.

As an intensive round of negotiations among the parties’ power brokers began Saturday, the Conservatives appeared strongly resistant to the Liberal Democrats’ main demand: a change in the voting system to help smaller parties gain more seats in future parliamentary elections. The most that David Cameron, the Conservative leader, seemed ready to concede was that the voting system could be debated by an all-party parliamentary committee.

The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, seemed divided over whether they should seek a union with the Conservatives or with the Labour Party, which many among the left-leaning Liberal Democrats see as more philosophically compatible than the Conservatives, but led by a man, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is widely unpopular even in his own party, and at risk of becoming more so by not quitting in the wake of Labour’s poor election showing.

Possibly reflecting low expectations of any early deal between his rivals, Mr. Brown left Downing Street in mid-afternoon to return to his family home outside Edinburgh. His aides said he would remain away at least through Sunday.

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This article was posted: Sunday, May 9, 2010 at 6:44 am

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