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Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 16:42 UK

Election 2010: Clegg 'disappointed' at Lib Dem results

Nick Clegg addressed the media outside Lib Dem headquarters in Westminster

Nick Clegg said the election result was "a disappointment" for the Lib Dems, and it was for the Tories to prove they were "capable of seeking to govern".

He acknowledged many voters "decided to stick with what they knew best", despite his pre-election surge in the polls after the leaders' TV debates.

However, Mr Clegg said he could "totally understand those feelings" at a time of economic uncertainty.

The Lib Dems have 57 seats, which is down five on their result in 2005.

The Tories have 306 seats, which is 20 short of the total needed to secure a majority, while Labour are on 258.

The poll in one remaining constituency - Thirsk and Malton - has been delayed until 27 May, owing to the death of the UKIP candidate, John Boakes.

Among the Lib Dems' high-profile casualties was Lembit Opik, who lost the previously safe seat of Montgomeryshire, and Evan Harris in Oxford West and Abingdon.

Both were beaten by Conservative candidates.

Mr Clegg retained his seat of Sheffield Hallam with an increased majority, however.

Ian Swales of the Lib Dems unexpectedly defeated Solicitor General Vera Baird in Redcar in Cleveland, previously a Labour stronghold.

And Sarah Teather won the newly-created seat of Brent Central, beating former Labour MP Dawn Butler.

'Very fluid' situation

Speaking outside the Liberal Democrats' headquarters in Westminster, Mr Clegg said it was a "source of great regret" that some of his MPs had lost their seats.

Many voters "were excited about the prospect of doing something different", he said, but had "decided to stick with what they knew best".

The UK's hung parliament had led to a "very fluid" political situation, he added, calling for Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron to act "in the national interest and not out of narrow party political advantage".

Lembit Opik
Former Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik was unexpectedly defeated by the Tories

Mr Clegg maintained his pre-election position that the party with the highest number of seats should have the first say in trying to form a government.

"It is now for the Conservative Party to prove that it is capable of seeking to govern in the national interest," he said.

And he called once again for the UK's electoral system to be reformed, saying it was "broken" and "simply doesn't reflect the hopes and aspirations of the British people".

Earlier, when his own result was declared, Mr Clegg said he would be "guided by the values and the principles on which we fought this election".

These were "fairness in our society; responsibility in providing stability and growth to an economy at a time particularly of growing uncertainty, as we have seen in recent hours and days in the economy in the world around us; and real change to the way we do politics."

Liberal Democrat MPs and peers will hold a private meeting on Saturday to begin considering how their party might work with Labour or the Conservatives.

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