Mar 1 2013
The Liberal Democrats have won the Eastleigh by-election, with the Conservatives pushed into third place by a late surge from the UK Independence Party.
Local councillor Michael Thornton held on to the seat vacated by disgraced ex-Cabinet minister Chris Huhne - polling 13,342 votes.
Ukip's candidate Diane James was second on 11,571 - more than 1,000 ahead of Tory Maria Hutchings (10,559) in a severe blow to Prime Minister David Cameron.
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg tweeted: "Congratulations @Mike4Eastleigh: welcome to the team! We're on track for 2015 now."
Mr Thornton said his victory was "a great night for the Liberal Democrats nationally, a strong signal of support for Nick Clegg, an affirmation of our role working in the national interest within the coalition and a huge boost to our party's mission in government to build a stronger economy in a fairer society so that everyone can get on in life".
He said it showed those who had "written off" the Lib Dems had been proved wrong. "We have done it and we will do it again," he declared on stage after the result was announced.
Ms James hailed her second place as "a humongous political shock" that represented a "seismic shift" in British politics.
Mrs Hutchings appeared to be fighting back tears as she thanked opponents for a "clean campaign".
The Liberal Democrat majority was more than halved compared to that secured by Chris Huhne in 2010 - from 3,864 to 1,771.
But in a shock result in what had initially been billed as a head-to-head fight between the Westminster coalition parties, that advantage was over Ukip, not the Conservatives.