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As a result of the hung parliament that arised in the 2010 election, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats formed a Coalition government and are therefore currently in office.

Based around an ideology of free-market econonmics, small-scale government and traditional family values, the Conservative Party sits on the right of the political spectrum.

Originally the Tory Party, as the Conservatives were formerly known, sprung up in the 18th century and came to dominate modern British politics - more than two thirds of 20th century administrations were Conservative.

In the election of 1979 the relatively unknown leader of the Conservative Party, Margaret Thatcher, became Britain's first female Prime Minister and went on to become one of its longest-serving - and most polarising - leaders.

In recent times, however, with the resurgence of the Labour Party and a succession of unpopular leaders, the Conservatives had begun to find themselves increasingly marginalised, in freefall in the opinion polls. That was until the arrival of present leader David Cameron, whose brand of 'Compasionate Conservatism' - focusing on social and environmental issues - seems to have struck a chord with disillusioned voters.

Perhaps the country's most famous leader of modern times, Winston Churchill, is still the Conservative Party's favourite son and, in common with the most recent Tory Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was a formidable opponent.

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