Theresa May to seek formation of government despite losing her majority
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking to hold on to power after suffering a major blow in Thursday’s election in which voters took away her Conservative Party’s majority in Parliament.
May is due to visit Buckingham Palace at 12:30 pm local time to seek permission from the Queen to form a government.
With nearly all votes counted, the Conservative Party is set to end up with 319 seats, according to the BBC. That is short of the 326 needed for an overall majority –- and 12 fewer than when May called the election. The opposition Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, is set to get 261 seats, the Scottish National Party 35, the Liberal Democrats 12 and the Democratic Unionist Party 10 seats.
May called a snap election in April, three years early, in what she said was an attempt to strengthen her mandate ahead of negotiations with the European Union about the British exit from the bloc. At the time, polls suggested her party would win with a big majority.
Instead, her strategy backfired as the election took away the Conservative majority and sent the country into political turmoil.
The hung parliament raises questions about who will govern the country in the future. May can attempt to form a coalition government with another party. She can also try to govern with a minority — but if her party doesn’t get enough support on an important vote, it might force a new general election.
The stunning election result comes after a campaign in which May lost popularity over her style and some of her social care policies, including a so-called "dementia tax" that would force elderly to pay more for their care.
A very personalized, almost presidential style of campaigning has contributed to the Conservative Party’s apparent loss of support, said Mark Goodwin, lecturer at the department of political science and international studies at the University of Birmingham in England.
"Theresa May has been in British politics for quite a long time, but she is not somebody with a huge media profile or who is associated with particular policy positions," Goodwin told ABC News ahead of election day. "She seems to have found it very difficult to kind of do the baby-kissing part of campaigning."
May’s political rivals criticized her when she chose to stay away from a televised election debate on May 31. Corbyn showed up and at one point asked: "Where is Theresa May, what happened to her?"
"There is no doubt that the Conservative Party failed to match the initial expectations of a convincing landslide," Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics and international relations at the University of Kent, England, told ABC News via email one day before the election. "The campaign period has seen considerable volatility, including two terrorist attacks, a u-turn on the major policy issue of social care and an upsurge of public support — at least in the polls — for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.“
Even though the gap between the Conservatives and Labour narrowed during the campaign, polls had generally predicted that the Conservatives would win a majority of votes.