U.K. Election: What the 'Hung Parliament' Result Means for Britain

A hung parliament comes about when no single party has a majority of the 650 members of parliament in the House of Commons

A woman carries a British union flag design umbrella as she walks past the Houses of Parliament in London.
TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS

Britain has what is called a "hung parliament" after Thursday's general elections.

A hung parliament comes about when no single party has a majority of the 650 members of parliament in the House of Commons.

It is "a situation of no overall control," according to the official parliament website. In simple arithmetic, a party needs 326 members of parliament for an outright majority under Britain's first-past-the-post electoral system. 

The Conservatives under Prime Minister Theresa May have fallen several seats short of this target.

So what happens now?

Talks can in theory start immediately between the main players, who will be trying to put together a governing majority.

This could be a formal coalition, as during the 2010-2015 Conservative-Liberal Democrat government, or a looser association. 

It is possible for a minority government to continue in office on a vote-by-vote basis, without any formal or informal deal with another party or parties – unless and until it loses a vote of confidence.