London: The charismatic Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, witnessed a huge surge in popularity during campaigning, but that doesn't seem to have translated into votes in the British general election.
The Liberal Democrats now admit that Cleggmania had not translated into a significant number of votes for the party, The Guardian reported on Friday.
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There had been "premature election speculation", said Nick Clegg's chief of staff Danny Alexander, who accused the Conservatives of thinking "that they should somehow inherit power".
Exit polls released after polling stations closed on Thursday evening predicted a hung parliament, in which neither of Britain's two main parties would gain an overall majority.
The exit polls, based on surveys of 18,000 voters, showed a disappointing outcome for the Liberal Democrats, whose leader Nick Clegg had been declared the undisputed star of the four-week election campaign.
Liberal Democratic aides claimed they fell prey to a "classic two-party squeeze".
Lembit Opik, one of the party's most high-profile MPs, lost his seat to the Tories in Montgomeryshire.
One Liberal Democrat admitted that the scenario was not good, saying they thought voters appeared to have been convinced by fears about hung parliaments.
"(Nick) Clegg always said the people will be the kingmaker - not the exit polls.
"In 1992 when it was very tight they were wildly out… If there's a balanced parliament, I am sure the Lib Dems will be play their full role and it will be based on more seats than your exit poll is suggesting," said Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat climate change spokesman.
Ed Davey, the foreign affairs spokesman, said: "What we want if there is a balanced parliament is that financial stability is the bedrock of the parliament that emerges."