Nick Clegg emerges as the king-maker in Britain

Nick Clegg emerges as the king-maker in Britain

Britain's Liberal Democrats party leader, Nick Clegg speaks to the media on Friday. AP

As Conservative and Labour strategists agonise over possible alliances, the only block in the House of Commons that can give either of them stability required to form a government is Clegg's Liberal Democrats.

Dapper and youthful at 43, Clegg is a former journalist but until the television debates, he was not seen anything more than a bright leader of the Liberal Democrats party, who made some incisive interventions during Prime Minister's Question Time in the House of Commons.

Before Thursday's elections, there was nothing spectacular about him or his party – no major policy achievements or interventions as an opposition.British politics has long been dominated by the Labour and Conservative parties. Electorally, his party has been squeezed between the two main parties.

In the 2005 elections, his party won only 62 seats out of a House of Commons strength of 646 MPs, while the Labour party won 356 and the Conservatives, 198.
This time, his party is struggling to retain the same number of seats (62), but given the game of numbers the results have thrown up, Clegg is being courted by both the Labour and the Conservative parties.

Clegg and his party's entral position now is a new high for a party that sees itself as a centrist to centre-left social liberal political party.It was formed in 1988 by a merger of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. The two parties had formed the electoral SDP-Liberal Alliance for seven years before then.

The party has consistently opposed Britain’s participation in Iraq, campaigned for electoral and constitutional reforms, civil liberties and higher taxes for public services.
Clegg's pitch has been that unlike the other two parties, he and his party offer an honest alternative.

The influential Guardian Newspaper openly came in support of the Liberal Democrats last week on the ground that electoral reform – changing the structure from first-past-the-post system to proportional representation – was the only way out to ensure genuine democracy.The only party who has consistently campaigned for this has been Liberal Democrats, the newspaper said.

Clegg has won some supporters by unfashionably stating that Britain is in serious financial difficulties that can be tackled only by taking serious measures such as higher taxes and deep cuts in public spending.

The Liberal Democrats are the most pro-European Union of the three main parties.
The party has strong environmentalist values—favouring renewable energy and commitments to deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Since its inception in 1988, the Liberal Democrats party has have advocated electoral reform to use proportional representation in electing the House of Commons, also hoping to replace the House of Lords with an elected chamber.Before entering politics, in 1993 Clegg won the Financial Times' David Thomas Prize, in remembrance of an FT journalist killed on assignment in Kuwait in 1991.

Clegg was the award's first recipient.He was later sent to Hungary, where he wrote articles about the mass privatisation of industries in the former communist bloc.
In April 1994, he took up a post at the European Commission, working in the TACIS aid programme to the former Soviet Union.

Vice President and Trade Commissioner Leon Brittan then offered Clegg a job in his private office, as a European Union policy adviser and speech writer.He was then elected Member of the European Parliament (1999-2004).In December 2007, he was elected leader of the Liberal Democrats party.

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