This year's election was billed as the most exciting in recent history and the result carried on that theme.
Now the deal making begins and as a few pundits and journalists have said there are many different possible combinations for what make up of government we shall be governed by. One fact which has to be remembered is that as Sinn Fein abstain the number needed for a working majority is actually 324 rather than 326. Here are all the various combination that could be formed although some are highly unlikely.
1) Minority - Conservative (306) - If a deal is struck with the Lib Dems to not vote down the Queen's Speech the David Cameron could lead in a minority and deal with other parties on a case by case basis. This would obviously but David in number 10 but as there are very few Conservative friends in Parliament and this could seriously impede a Conservative Government's ability to rule.
2) Minority - Labour/Liberal Democrat (258/57) - If Labour and the Liberal Democrat make a coalition deal they outnumber the Conservatives, they will however still lack a majority. Something which has to be noted is that a Lab/Lib coalition would most likely be supported by the SDLP and the Alliance from Northern Ireland giving them 319 only 6 short of a working government majority of 1.
3) Coalition - Labour/Liberal Democrat/SDLP/Alliance/Celtic Bloc (258/57/3/1/9) - As I just mentioned the SDLP and Alliance support Labour and the Liberal Democrats respectively, if a deal could be reached with the Celtic Bloc we would have a government with a majority of 5. The result of a Nationalist Progressive Alliance as it were could be argued to be quite stable as with a majority of 4 either the SDLP, Alliance or Plaid could disagree with the government on their own and not break the majority. The potential downside would be the demands of the SNP for their continued support. An optional extra could be the inclusion of the Green Party to buffer up the majority to 6.
4) Coalition - Labour/Liberal Democrat/DUP/Celtic Bloc (258/57/8/9) - A slightly less likely option but one which would deliver a much stronger majority of 8, If the DUP could be convinced into joining a coalition with the Celtic Bloc it would likely mean the SDLP would not join but still support Labour and the Alliance may or may not enter with the Lib Dems. Once again if the Alliance and Green were included with their single seats it would deliver a majority of 10 which would mean a single small party could disagree and not break the government.
The list could continue on and on with combinations that become even more unlikely and the negotiations would carry on till the cows come home. My view is that Labour are the more likely to form a Coalition and Conservative to go for the Minority,why? Other than Labour obviously only having the options of Coalition or Opposition is that there is a serious lack of anyone who would side with the Tories. The DUP might but they will make the Tories work for it and their co-operation does not bring a majority. Plaid have said they will talk to the Tories but with only 3 seats and a nationalist agenda they are not likely favourable in Conservative eyes. The SNP are a no go as they to are nationalist. The 3 single seaters of the Alliance, Green and Lady Hermon are all likely to side with a Lib/Lab deal making them useless to the Tories. So really Tory plans are based on some deal with the Lib Dems but don't be surprised if Labour have already ranked every other party in order of preference and are making the calls for talks.