With national election headed for stalemate, Britain ponders hung Parliament scenarios

Britain's national election looks likely to deny any of the three major political parties an outright majority, creating the first so-called "hung Parliament" since 1974. Here are the potential scenarios.

— CONSERVATIVE MINORITY GOVERNMENT: David Cameron's main opposition Conservative Party will likely win the largest number of House of Commons seats, but will fall short of a majority. Sitting as a minority government, Cameron would seek support from the third-placed Liberal Democrats and minor parties to pass votes to endorse an emergency budget aimed at cutting the country's 152.84 billion pound ($235.9 billion) deficit. Cameron would likely call a second election within a year to seek a majority.

— LABOUR PACT WITH CLEGG: To cling to power, Gordon Brown's Labour Party may seek a formal coalition, or looser pact, with the Liberal Democrats and their leader Nick Clegg. An alliance between the two would form a bloc with more seats than Cameron's Conservatives. But Clegg would likely demand Brown be replaced as prime minister and insist upon a referendum on moving to a European-style proportional voting system.

— CONSERVATIVE PACT WITH CLEGG: If Cameron's party is left well short of the 326 Commons seats needed to win a majority, it may seek a pact with the Liberal Democrats. Though opposed on many policies — including electoral reform — the two could strike a short-term agreement aimed at tackling Britain's deficit. Both regard economic remedies as a priority.

— CONSERVATIVE PACT WITH MINOR PARTY: Should Cameron find himself only a handful of seats short of a working majority, he will likely seek a pact with one of Britain's minor parties. Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionists, which currently hold eight seats, are likely to be courted as a partner.

— QUICK SECOND ELECTION: If Cameron formed a minority government but was unable to win enough votes to pass his legislative program, or if a pact between two parties quickly collapsed, Britain could have a quick second election. Labour and the Liberal Democrats, both pressed for funds, may struggle to afford a second campaign.