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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006, 15:14 GMT
Timeline: Lib Dem election
Key dates in the Liberal Democrat leadership contest:

5 January Following long-running grumbles from senior party spokesmen and women about his leadership, party leader Charles Kennedy calls a press conference and admits he has had a drink problem. He calls a leadership contest and says he intends to stand for re-election.

7 JanuaryAmid threats that many of his front bench team would quit unless he stepped down, Mr Kennedy, who led the Lib Dems to their most successful election result in more than 80 years, resigns. Sir Menzies Campbell, his deputy, is installed as acting leader.

9 January 9 Former leader Lord Ashdown is among a series of party "grandees" who endorse Sir Menzies.

10 January Home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten announces he will challenge Sir Menzies for the leadership.

12 January Party president Simon Hughes, who was defeated by Mr Kennedy in a previous attempt, announces he will stand again for the leadership.

13 January Chris Huhne, a former MEP who was only elected to Parliament last May, declares he will also stand.

19 January Mr Oaten quits the race admitting he did not have enough support among MPs after it emerged that Northern Ireland spokesman Lembit Opik was the only one backing him.

21 January Mr Oaten resigns as home affairs spokesman after it is revealed he had an affair with a male prostitute.

25 January Nominations close with only Sir Menzies, Mr Hughes and Mr Huhne in the race.

26 January Mr Hughes, who had denied being gay in newspaper interviews during the contest, apologises after it is revealed he has had homsexual relationships in the past. A poll suggests support for the party has fallen to 13%.

6 February Ballot papers are sent out to the party's 73,000 members.

9 February The Lib Dems pull off a massive by-election shock by taking Dunfermline and Fife West. The party overturned an 11,562 Labour majority to win the seat where Chancellor Gordon Brown has his family home.

20 February Sir Menzies announces he has the support of 32 of the party's 63 MPs.

1 March The ballot closes.

2 March Sir Menzies Campbell is announced as the winner of the contest. In the first round of voting, Sir Menzies polls 23,264, Mr Huhne 16,691 and Mr Hughes 12,081.

After Mr Hughes's second preference votes are re-distributed, the final tally of the 52,036 votes is Sir Menzies 29,697 and Mr Huhne 21,628, on a 72% turnout of the membership.


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