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Election 2017: So what exactly is a hung parliament?

PUBLISHED: 08:38 09 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:44 09 June 2017

The prospect of a hung Parliament would throw serious doubt over Brexit negotiations, due to begin in earnest in just 10 days. Photo: PA

The prospect of a hung Parliament would throw serious doubt over Brexit negotiations, due to begin in earnest in just 10 days. Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

With no party winning an overall majority during this election, we now have what is called a hung parliament. But what exactly does that mean?

A hung parliament is when no single party can form a majority government in the House of Commons and therefore cannot guarantee it can win its own parliamentary votes without the backing of other parties.

Last night, the Conservatives needed to win at least 326 seats to guarantee that majority, although due to the fact Irish Sinn Feinn MPs never take up their seats in protest the number this year is actually 322.

The Tories are currently on track to win 318 seats while Labour are predicted to get 262.

What that means is that, as the largest party in Parliament still, the Conservatives can remain in power during a period of negotiation as they look to form a coalition with smaller parties.

That essentially means smaller parties sign on to back a Tory led government in exchange for some concessions, and is exactly what happened in 2010 between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives.

But its important to note that, while that is going on Jeremy Corbyn is well within his rights to begin discussing his own potential coalition deals, although of course his task is much harder as he needs more help to reach that magic 322.

So where could deals be done?

The Liberal Democrats, who were all but wiped out in 2015 after five years in a coalition, have ruled out any such deal with either of the main parties.

The Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland is the most likely party to partner with the Tories as they are more closely aligned politically with them than with Labour.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson told the BBC the party will be “serious players if there is a hung parliament” and they “will talk to whoever is the largest party”.

The SNP has also suggested it might be open to a coalition, but could use another Scottish independence referendum as an all important bargaining chip in hashing out the details of any deal.

If Theresa May and the Conservatives are unable to win enough support to form a coalition government they could still try and form a minority government.

A minority government would mean the Conservatives would have to win support from MPs of other parties on a case by case basis to get legislation through Parliament.

Such a set up is notoriously unstable and would likely see another general election called well before 2022.

For now, all the residents of the UK can do is wait and see.


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