, LONDON, May 8 – British newspapers Saturday said Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg held the role of kingmaker after inconclusive general elections and urged him to seal a power-sharing pact without delay.
But the dailies were divided on whether the third-party chief should side with the main opposition Conservatives, who won the most seats and votes, or Prime Minister Gordon Brown\’s Labour Party.
They did also not rule out Conservative leader David Cameron going it alone with a minority government — but stressed that Britain needed a legitimate administration as soon as possible to tackle its debt problems.
The Financial Times said a Tory-Lib Dem pact offered the best hope of stability, because it was the only plausible combination.
"With the Greek sovereign debt crisis threatening to spill across Europe, it is no time for the parties to bicker and jockey for position.
"Speed is of the essence. It should be possible to reach a deal over the weekend. If not, a Tory minority government would be the logical alternative."
The Daily Telegraph said Britain needed a new government in place before Monday to prevent turbulence in the financial markets, adding: "we cannot pretend the outcome of the election is welcome.
It warned that back room agreements and watered down manifesto pledges would "demonstrate the unsatisfactory nature of coalition politics".
The Times said Cameron had earned the moral right to govern and that Clegg should take his offer of a tie-up seriously while Brown should get out of the way.
Clegg "needs to support the Conservatives if he is to prove that the Liberal Democrats have grown up."
The Daily Express agreed.
"Cameron and Nick Clegg must work together for the good of the country and Gordon Brown must get his bags packed.
"There is clearly now a very strong risk that he will seek to sabotage their negotiations and to use Mr Clegg as a crutch to allow him to limp on in office."
The Sun took a humorous approach with a front page "property scandal" involving a Scottish squatter called Gordon Brown who was refusing to budge from 10 Downing Street, "denying entry to its rightful tenant".
The Guardian urged the Liberals to team up with Labour instead.
"In multi-party politics, pacts between parties that speak for a majority of voters are always legitimate," it said.
"This weekend, Labour and the Liberal Democrats should strike a fixed-term deal to secure the economic recovery, assure the markets about key spending plans and hold an early referendum on electoral reform, with a general election on the new system to follow."
The Daily Mirror said Labour and the Lib Dems had a mandate for electoral reform and Clegg would "never be forgiven" if he did not plump for Brown\’s offer.
The "tug of love" between Brown and Cameron over Clegg "will determine the future of our country after the most exciting, unpredictable general election in decades", it said.
The Independent said the voting system was "hopelessly biased" against the Lib Dems and Clegg "should not roll over on the principle of electoral reform".
In this respect, "the Labour offer is far superior… yet, depressingly, it is hard to see Mr Clegg going into partnership with Labour," it said.
The Daily Mail spoke of "shabby deals" and deplored that "the nation\’s future was being stitched up behind closed doors."
"We have the unedifying irony of a failed Nick Clegg emerging with more power than ever as a kingmaker, it said, adding: "There will be a great deal more political chicanery and unseemly horse-trading in the coming days."