Gordon Brown has announced his resignation as prime minister of the United Kingdom, and as head of the Labour party. Or, maybe it is the other way around, but it results in both:
Gordon Brown has said he is stepping down as Labour Party leader.
Mr Brown, prime minister since 2007, said he wanted a successor to be in place by the time of the party's conference in September.
Brown's resignation had long been a requirement from the Liberal Democrats to form a coalition with Labour. And so, right on cue, the resignation announcement also said that Labour was opening formal talks of an alliance with the Lib Dems:
Mr Brown announced his intention to quit in a statement in Downing St in which he also said his party was to start formal talks with the Lib Dems.
The left-wing parties in Britain won a very narrow majority of seats in last week's elections. With 650 seats, and 5 Sinn Fein absentees, 323 are required for a majority. The left-wing parties have 328:
If Labour (258 MPs), the Lib Dems (57 MPs), the SNP (6 MPs), Plaid Cymru (3 MPs), the SDLP (3 MPs) and the Greens (1 MP) all join forces, they would have 328 votes in the Commons - a majority.
Surely, some sort of electoral reform will also be one of the Lib Dem requirements. They won 23% of the popular vote, but only about 9% of the seats. It is still possible that the Liberal Democrats could make a deal with the Conservatives, although four days of talks have produced no agreement thus far.
If no coalition agreement is reached by May 25th, then there will be a new general election. Really, there will probably be a new general election soon anyway, since any coalition will be tenuous.