It could easily be 5 weeks before we have a settled Government. It might not be, the polls might be wrong or there could be last minute surge in one direction or another, but they could be right.
If the polls are right we are possibly in for a long period of uncertainty before we have a settled Government.
Here’s one of many possible scenarios – you can judge how likely it is:
8th May – 26th May
Conservatives are the largest party but don’t have a majority. They go for presenting either a minority government Queen’s Speech or a new Con-LD Coalition one, or something. Lots of frantic negotiations – possibly two lots going on at the same time around Tories and Labour.
Given a deal does not need to be finalised until just before the Queen’s Speech it is quite possible negotiations will expand to fill the time available – i.e. no deal finalised until 26th May.
NB: David Cameron remains in office as PM until a new government is formed and endorsed by the House – could be five weeks or more. Interesting detail – if Tories going for Minority Government will Cameron remove LD Ministers from 8th May? He could.
Queen’s Speech presented to Parliament followed by debate over next few days. Sometime between 28th May – 1st June vote on Queen’s Speech and/or ‘no confidence’ motion under the Fixed term Parliaments Act. ‘No confidence’, in whichever form or both is passed.
1st June (ish)
If it’s the FTP Act there are now 14 days within which a new government can be formed and must get a positive vote of confidence in the terms laid down by the Act.
If it’s not the FTP Act but the old ‘conventions’ we are now into open-ended possibilities because there is no limit.
2nd June (ish) to 15th June (ish) (or beyond)
Frantic negotiations form a new Government.
NB: this could include a new Government with the Tories in various ways. For example if they’d tried as minority they could try again as a Tory-LD Coalition. Or they could dump David Cameron and install Boris Johnson by acclaim, etc.
The point is it doesn’t have to be just a Labour-led alternative and it could get very messy if David Cameron hangs on as PM and wants a second go.
15th June (ish)
Assuming Cameron has gone and recommended to the Queen Ed Miliband be asked to form a government, Labour move the ‘confidence’ motion under FTPA, either as a minority Government or with some sort of deal(s) with other parties.
If it passes we have a new Government. If it doesn’t it’s back to the polls folks.
So we could quite easily be in for five weeks, or more, of fun and games before we get a settled Government. Or not. Maybe the polls are all wrong and something different will happen.