A deflated Nick Clegg has expressed his disappointment at the Liberal Democrats' poor showing in the General Election.
"We simply didn't achieve what we hoped," he told his supporters after sweeping to victory in his Sheffield Hallam constituency with an increased majority.
Mr Clegg cautioned the other parties against "rushing into making claims or taking decisions" which did not stand the test of time.
He urged everyone involved to "take a little time" to ensure people got the government they deserved during these "difficult times".
His comments came as Gordon Brown and David Cameron were locked in a battle for power as the election seemed to be heading for a hung parliament with Mr Clegg the possible kingmaker.
Mr Clegg said: "This has obviously been a disappointing night for the Liberal Democrats. We simply haven't achieved what we'd hoped. I'm nonetheless proud of the way we conducted the campaign. I think we conducted a positive campaign - full of hope, full of optimism."
He said this "engaged a lot of people in the election campaign, even if they didn't then go on to vote for the Liberal Democrats".
The final result was still a "little unpredictable". People had voted but "no one appears to have won emphatically".
Mr Clegg said: "I don't think anyone should rush into making claims or taking decisions, which don't stand the test of time. I think it would be best if everybody were to take a little time so people get the good government they deserve in these very difficult and uncertain times.
"Whatever happens in the next few days, weeks, months, I will be guided by the values and principles on which we fought this election - of fairness in our society, responsibility in providing stability and growth to the economy ... and real change to the way we do politics."