Exit polls suggest that the Conservatives captured the largest number of seats today in Britain's national election but will fall short of a majority—triggering a hung parliament and uncertainty over who will form the next government. David Cameron's Conservative party is expected to win 307 House of Commons seats, short of the 326 seats needed for a majority. Polls gave Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party 255 seats, and Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats 59 seats—far less than expected.
The result would bear out predictions that this election would not give any party a majority, resulting in a destabilizing period of political wrangling and uncertainty. Brown could resign if he feels the results have signaled he has lost his mandate to rule (Conservatives are already saying Labour has lost "the legitimacy to govern") or he could try to stay on as leader and seek a deal in which smaller parties would support him. A Labour official says the sitting prime minister is traditionally given the first chance to form a government in a hung parliament. (Read more exit polls stories.)