Stories

Ways to form a government in the U.K.

Nicolas Asfouri / AP

Exit polls just posted for the snap election in the U.K. and the surprise is that Prime Minister Theresa May might be at risk of losing her parliamentary majority. If that's the case, there could be a coalition government — or even a new election. With 326 needed for a majority, the exit polls put:

  • Conservatives at 314, Labour at 266, SNP at 34, Liberal Democrats at 14

Here are the ways the next government could be formed:

1. A majority government can form — that could happen next if May's Conservative party defies the odds and breaks above the majority threshold of 326.

If there's no majority...

2. A coalition government can form when two or more parties join together. This happened in 2010 with the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, and it took five days to reach an agreement. May would continue to be Prime Minister while trying to form a majority, which she would have to do by June 13 when parliament is first set to meet — or resign, per the Cabinet Office. But, if it looks like Corbyn would be able to get a majority, he would take over as prime minister.

3. A minority government can form and try leading the government without a majority. This is rare, although there have been minority governments, in 1974 and 1996 (although this was a rarer case). A minority government would also be unlikely to last very long.

If all of that fails..

The U.K. would be in for another election.

Why it matters: This was basically a test of May's handling of Brexit — she called the election in order to expand her mandate ahead of Brexit negotiations. If anything but a majority forms, this is a massive failure for the Conservatives and will likely mean someone else will be handling those vital negotiations.