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Crunch Time for British Post-Election Negotiations

Selection of British national newspapers featuring headlines about Prime Minister Gordon Brown's decision to stand down as Labour leader, an "important element" in negotiations on a possible power-sharing deal, 11 May 2010

Two top vote winners court third party, Liberal Democrats to join one or the other in a coalition

There is still no clear deal on a new government in Britain after last week's inconclusive elections, which saw no party win an outright majority. The two top vote winners are courting a third party, the Liberal Democrats to join one or the other in a coalition.

Days of negotiating and still no deal. The Conservative Party won the most votes in last Thursday's election, but remains shy of a majority. They have been holding talks with the Liberal Democrats, trying to iron out differences over major issues to try to form a majority coalition.

Speaking to reporters, Conservative Party leader David Cameron gave a hint his patience is running out, saying he had laid out a full and reasonable plan for working together.

"So, it is now, I believe decision time for the Liberal Democrats and I hope they make the right decision that will give this country the strong, stable government that it badly needs and badly needs now," Cameron said.

The Liberal Democrats have also been talking with the Labor Party, which took a beating at the polls, but still came in second.

Those negotiations got a boost Monday when incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced he would be stepping down as Labor leader in the near future, no matter the outcome of the negotiations.

The Liberal Democrats came in a distant third in the election, but are now finding themselves in a position to tip the balance of power.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said he knows a decision must be made soon.

"The discussions between the political parties have now reached a critical and final phase," said Clegg.

Time is running out and a decision is needed within the next 48 hours says political analyst Richard Whitman of the University of Bath in southern England.

"If there is not a deal it is more likely that we would move to a situation in which we would have a minority led government, which is that the Conservatives try to govern the country, even though they do not have a majority of votes in the parliament," Whitman said.

Such a solution is feasible, say analysts. The Conservatives could pass an emergency budget and begin tackling economic issues, which are the highest priority for the public. And, they could govern as long as they can maintain some support from other parties.