Tory leader David Cameron has declared victory and asked Prime Minister Gordon Brown to step aside. But with no party securing a clear majority in Parliament, the battle could continue well after election night. With 616 of 650 seats declared, Conservatives have won 291 versus 247 for Labour and 51 for the Liberal Democrats—exit polls suggest their total could rise to about 305 which, even combined with a likely coalition partner of about 10 Unionist MPs from Northern Ireland, is short of a majority. “I believe it is already clear that the Labour government has lost its mandate to govern our country,” Cameron said in his victory speech. “What is clear from these results is that our country wants change. That change requires new leadership. Strong, stable, decisive and good government." Under the rules governing a hung parliament, the sitting party is given the first crack at forming a ruling coalition—meaning Labour could potentially team with the Liberal Democrats to claim the most seats, if not an outright majority either. “We are clear that we have got first bite of the cherry to form a government," a source close to Brown told the Telegraph. "A majority coalition with the Liberal Democrats would be better for the country than a weak minority government run by the Tories.” Alternately, Conservatives could turn to the Liberal Democrats for help.
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