SNP leader calls for alternative alliance to coalition government
Alex Salmond believes the Lib Dems should join forces with Labour, the SNP and Plaid Cymru.
The Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru have claimed there were other options to a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.
SNP leader Alex Salmond said there were "far more progressive options available" than a Tory-Liberal pact.
He and Plaid's leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, said they were willing to explore the potential of working with other parties to form an alliance.
Mr Salmond said: "A balanced parliament is redolent with opportunity for Scotland. At the start of the General Election campaign, the SNP and Plaid Cymru pledged to fight for the best deal for Scotland and for Wales.
"We now find ourselves in a position to make real gains. Working together, we will use our votes and experience of negotiating in a balanced parliament to maximum effect to take Scotland and Wales forward.
"The assumption by some that the only option now available for a new UK Government is a Tory-Liberal pact is not correct.
"There are alternatives and far more progressive outcomes available should politicians have the will to seize the moment. Plaid and the SNP are indicating that we do."
However, his suggestion was dismissed by Labour.
The SNP and Plaid have both appointed teams who will spend the next few days discussing the mechanics of any future discussions with their dedicated UK liaison officials in London.
Mr Jones said: "Plaid has a track record in putting aside our own party political interests in order to work with other parties to deliver the best outcome for the people of our nation. That is what we did in Wales in 2007 when we formed a coalition with Labour which is widely acknowledged to have been a tremendous success.
"We will now do what is expected of us by the electorate and explore the potential of working with other parties in Westminster in order to achieve the best deal for Wales.
"A more balanced Parliament is a real opportunity to bring about a new approach to politics in the UK which would be welcomed throughout the nations of these islands."
Mr Salmond has long favoured a hung or "balanced" Parliament and leads a minority government at Holyrood, the home of the Scottish Parliament.
The SNP General Election campaign focused on "local and national champions" whose candidates would fight public service cuts made by the "London parties".
However, the Nationalists failed in their bid to increase their share of Westminster seats.
They set out to win 20 seats but made no gains on the six they already had.
The First Minister stepped down as MP for Banff and Buchan but his seat was retained by the SNP.