As of this writing, the outcome of the British election is up in the air.
Yes, Theresa May's Conservatives seem set to win the most seats in Parliament. That means they get first opportunity to form a government.
But — and it's a big but — as of this writing (again, things may change), the Conservatives are uncertain of winning a governing majority. Prime Minister May needs 326 seats for a majority, but the BBC is currently predicting (on the basis of forecasting of announced results and exit poll data) that she'll get 322 seats.
Thus follows the question as to what happens if May fails to get 326 seats.
First, if May gets 320 or more seats, the Conservatives should be fine. That's because a 320 figure would likely enable her to cut a deal with Northern Ireland's (conservative-leaning) Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Cumulatively, that would give May an effective majority.
If May gets the exit poll figure of 314 seats, things get more complicated. In that scenario May will have to try to persuade the Liberal Democrats to join her government alongside the DUP. The problem with that approach? The Liberal Democrats say they have no interest in joining any coalition — whether Labour or Conservative. And after the Liberal Democrats and the DUP, the Conservatives have very few options.
And if May cannot form a governing majority, then the ball moves to Jeremy Corbyn's court.
Still, while Corbyn's supporters are elated with tonight's resistance against May's ambition of a large majority, Corbyn has no easy route into 10 Downing Street. The simple problem is numbers. Like the Conservatives, Labour would need the Liberal Democrats. But they would also need to count on the support of the Scottish Nationalist Party, which is openly committed to separating Scotland from the U.K. Doing a deal with the SNP to get into power would make Corbyn inherently vulnerable to allegations he is not acting in the national interest. It would risk a constitutional crisis on the first day of the new government.
Ultimately, if neither party can get a majority, Theresa May might simply call another election. And then we get to do this all over again!