Southampton's council is well and truely hung
So, the voters of the South have spoken - but is it clear what they had to say?
Local elections deliver a complicated message at the best of times, and this is certainly not the best of times.
Could anybody be said to have received a ringing endorsement on Thursday night?
"Curate's egg" would seem tailor-made to describe the situation.
Labour lost control of Crawley, but the Conservatives only have a majority of one.
You can see that things are still rather finely balanced there from the fact that in the seat that finally clinched it the Conservative and Labour candidates both polled 500 votes, and it had to be decided by drawing lots after three recounts!
In Reading, although Labour lost three seats it held onto the council.
But the Conservatives were not having everything going their way either.
Control of Gosport slipped away from them and the deputy leader of the council lost his seat after 25 years.
They still have not a single councillor in Oxford, practically in party leader David Cameron's Witney backyard.
The Liberal Democrats too did not have the happy night they might have hoped for, but then it was not a total disaster either.
The Conservatives took control from them in Winchester, and the former leader of the council, Sheila Campbell lost her seat.
That could be explained - and already is - by fallout from the scandal surrounding Mark Oaten, the city's Liberal Democrat MP.
On the plus side, they comfortably held on to neighbouring Eastleigh.
So, a night of mixed fortunes for the three main parties - nowhere more so than in Southampton, where the situation could not be more exquisitely balanced.
That result? Conservatives 16, Labour 16 and Liberal Democrats 16.
So the horse-trading now begins. This week the Politics Show South examines what happens when you get a totally hung council.
They know all about that in Brighton, where for the last three years, after a long period of Labour domination it became "No Overall Control".
Labour is still the largest party, but they now have to temper their policies by negotiating with the other parties.
Does that lead to better, more consensual government, or just a lot of squabbling and getting nothing done?
The Politics Show
To find out, join Peter Henley live this Sunday from The Discovery Centre in Gosport.
The Politics Show on Sunday 14 May 2006 at 12.00pm on BBC One.
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