The talking is over. The negotiations are finalised. And we finally have a new government.
David Cameron has achieved his ambition by taking over at 10 Downing Street. But he has only done so with the help of Nick Clegg.
Pictures of the two men outside that most famous of doors are everywhere. They could almost be twins: young, stylish, posh boys with determined expressions ready to run the country. Not quite a creature from Greek mythology but still a two headed leadership that many will fear.
What will this new coalition approach to government mean for the country?
Late last night some details of the deal between the two parties emerged. It would seem that Cameron has conceded more to Clegg than first appeared to be the case – but there are still hard times ahead.
Cameron has given ground on education funding and on tax. Personal allowances will be raised over the next few years to reduce the burden on the poorest. And some of the Tory concessions planned for the highest earners will be scrapped.
But this, of course, will cost money at a time when both parties have agreed that tackling the budget deficit is a priority. We can expect an emergency budget within weeks. The Tory plan, which the Lib Dems have agreed to, will include £6bn of cuts in this financial year. What effect will this have on services?
The Lib Dems have made major concessions on two key areas where the parties disagree. They have consented to plans to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system, something they vehemently opposed during the election. They have also agreed to a Tory cap on immigrants coming to the UK from outside the EU, and shelved their own plans for an amnesty for illegal immigrants already here.
Clegg and co have in return secured a referendum on a change to the Alterative Vote system, which is not actually their preferred option. Presumably they believe that a gradual approach to change will eventually bring us to a Single Transferrable Vote system.
They have also secured a commitment to an elected House of Lords and on some form of proportional system too. This is a major transformation and one that is to be welcomed as a democratisation of politics. Presumably we will need a new name though?
We also now know that the deal is planned to last for five years. Fixed term parliaments will be brought in by legislation. No longer will a PM be able to call an election when he feels it is most favourable.
But hidden in the detail is a change that is fundamentally anti-democratic. If a government loses a vote of confidence in the Commons there is an election. That’s fundamental in a parliamentary democracy and has been in place for many years.
The coalition’s proposal is to introduce a 55% threshold for a vote of no confidence. So any MPs abstaining on a confidence vote will be counted as supporting the government. And we could actually see a government retaining power despite losing the confidence of a majority of MPs.
For me, this is a political fix of the highest order.
A Liberal Democrat party supposedly committed to fairness and democracy should be ashamed to contemplate this proposal, let alone to support legislation that will actually enact it.
The shape of the new Cabinet is becoming clear. It appears that Depute Prime Minister Clegg will not have a department to run. There will be four of his colleagues in the cabinet alongside him: David Laws as number two at the Treasury, Chris Huhne on the environment, Vince Cable as Business Secretary and Danny Alexander at the Scotland Office.
George Osborne as Chancellor and William Hague as Foreign Secretary were both predictable appointments. Perhaps more surprising was Theresa May being given the job of Home Secretary. Is she the token woman in the cabinet? Did Cameron feel that he had to have a woman at one of the so called great offices of state?
While all of the cabinet posts have not yet been announced, two others are worthy of note.
Another failed Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith appears to be lined up as Work and Pensions Secretary. A right wing appointment here will appease some of Cameron’s party but there will be many among Lib Dem MPs who fear exactly what this might mean in the longer term.
Ken Clarke will become Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor. He is the one man in this cabinet with real experience of government and will bring some credibility as a heavyweight political operator. Clarke will be in charge of constitutional change, so will lead on the Lords reform and the voting referendum.
Now that many of the details are known, how can we assess this coalition agreement?
David Cameron will feel that he has a good deal. Of course he had to make concessions, but he will see this as a price worth paying for a government under his leadership.
Nick Clegg will also be pleased. Despite a disappointing election result he has secured a place for his party at the Cabinet table. Again, concessions were required but he has made a deal that seemed unlikely to happen.
There will inevitably be a honeymoon period for the new government. Its first real test could come when the details of the emergency budget are made known to the public. At that stage the nature of the cuts required will be clear and we will all see exactly what price has been paid by Clegg for his place in government.
With some opposition to this deal in both parties, the question will be whether the coalition can survive what will undoubtedly be difficult tests ahead. Can Cameron and Clegg keep their parties squarely in line? Or will the consensus start to unravel?
We may just have finished one election, but all politicians will have an eye on the next one. And that will include the new Labour leader, likely to be David Miliband. He will try to exploit any hints of discord in the coalition and to position his party as the only progressive alternative to a centre right government.
Cameron and Clegg may have won the battle for power, but can they win the war that is ahead of them?
It seems we do indeed live in interesting times.