The British government was preparing on Wednesday to release updated guidelines for elections, setting out the likely timetable in the event of an inconclusive vote.
"The chapter of the Cabinet Manual on elections will be published very shortly," a Cabinet Office spokesman said.
He declined to comment on a report in The Guardian newspaper that Prime Minister Gordon Brown could get up to 18 days to try to form a government if the election produced no clear winner.
Markets are concerned about a "hung parliament" in which neither Brown's Labour nor the opposition Conservatives win an outright majority in the 650-seat parliament. Only one post-war election, in February 1974, has produced such a result.
Analysts warned that a long period of political limbo could be catastrophic for British asset prices. "It would be a very long 18 days for the markets," said Alastair Newton, senior political analyst at Nomura.
"Such a framework might work constitutionally but it wouldn't work for markets. The sell-off could continue for days."
Brown is expected next week to confirm the worst kept secret in British politics and confirm Thursday May 6 as the election date. Newton said the primary concern with a hung parliament outcome was knee-jerk selling of gilts and sterling.
He said the loss of confidence in UK assets could be dramatic unless politicians were able to hammer out some sort of deal before markets opened the following Monday.
When an election does not produce a clear majority for a single party, a sitting prime minister is entitled to stay in office pending a vote of confidence in parliament.
Parliament normally reconvenes on the Wednesday after an election but there is a proposal to extend the interval between polling day and the first meeting of parliament to 12 days.
A vote on a government's legislative programme -- effectively a confidence vote -- normally takes place the week after the first session.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 31 Mart 2010, 18:49