What is a hung parliament and what happens now we've got one?

What once looked like a sure thing for the Conservatives has ended in a hung parliament and yet more political uncertainty. So what even is a hung parliament and what will happen next?

What is a hung parliament?
It’s when no single political party wins enough seats in a general election to secure an overall majority and govern outright. In the UK, the required number is 326 of the 650 constituencies.

So who will be the prime minister?
For now, Theresa May. It’s normal in the case of a hung parliament for the incumbent PM to remain in office until it’s been decided what will happen next.

When will that be?
It’s expected that parliament will meet for the first time post-election on June 13.

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Will there be a coalition?
Possibly. This would see two parties joining forces to form an absolute majority. This is what happened when there was a hung parliament following the 2010 general election, when the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats decided to work together. The incumbent PM generally has first dibs on forming a coalition.

The result has strengthened Jeremy Corbyn's position as Labour Party leader (Rex)
The result has strengthened Jeremy Corbyn’s position as Labour Party leader (Rex)

A coalition isn’t inevitable, though, is it?
No. The Conservatives could opt to rule as a minority government, but they would be dependent on the support of smaller parties to pass their legislation.

What happens if all these options fail?
Parliament could be dissolved and yet another general election could be called.

What does all of this mean for Theresa May?
She could be out of a job. Her failure to secure an overall majority leaves her vulnerable to being ousted, and there’s already been talk among her fellow Tories as to who could replace her. For now, she has rejected Jeremy Corbyn’s suggestion that she step down, vowing to carry as PM and create a “period of stability”.

Top image: Rex