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Election meltdown for Nick Clegg sealed with AV disaster

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Liberal Democrat Party leader Nick Clegg speaks to reporters outside his house on May 6, 2011 in London, England.

Liberal Democrat Party leader Nick Clegg speaks to reporters outside his house on May 6, 2011 in London, England.

Peter Macdiarmid

Liberal Democrat Party leader Nick Clegg speaks to reporters outside his house on May 6, 2011 in London, England.

Nick Clegg's nightmare at the polls was completed today as British voters decisively rejected the Liberal Democrats' cherished project of electoral reform.



The party's resounding defeat in the referendum on the Alternative Vote came after Lib Dems took a pounding in councils across England, as well as elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly.

Senior Lib Dems insisted that the Deputy Prime Minister's position was safe and ministers from both sides of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition said the partnership would continue.

But Mr Clegg faces dismay in the Lib Dem ranks at the prospect that electoral reform has been knocked off the agenda for a generation.

And there were calls from the Conservative backbenches for the coalition to be brought to an end before the five-year term agreed by Mr Clegg and Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Cameron was hailed by Tories for his performance in delivering an increase in the party's total of councils and councillors after a year in which his administration has imposed significant public spending cuts, as well as protecting the traditional first-past-the-post system for Westminster elections.

Jubilant Tories said they had won more than half the seats in English councils.

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Labour celebrated gaining 786 council seats, but was licking its wounds in Scotland, where a remarkable performance by the Scottish National Party sent Alex Salmond back to Holyrood for a second term with an overall majority.

In Wales, Ed Miliband's party missed an overall majority in the Assembly by a single seat.

After 393 of the 440 results in the AV referendum were in, the No camp had established an unassailable lead of 68.53% to 31.47%.

A senior No activist declared "We've won!" as their overall vote passed the 10 million mark.


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