Public worried over potential hung parliament

March 16, 2010, 10:55 PM GMT+0

The prospect of a hung parliament strikes worry into the majority of British adults, but not to the extent that they would change their vote to avoid it. A recent survey for the Sunday Times has found that 55% of the public agree that the prospect of a hung parliament, which has unsettled the British economy and weakened the pound, is worrying, but a mere 19% declared that they would switch their vote to prevent the scenario.

Weak government

A hung parliament is a possible outcome of a general election, whereby the party winning the most seats still fails to gain enough seats to have an overall majority; that is, they fail to win over half the seats available. Essentially, the primary fear which continues to thwart the strengthening pound is that a hung parliament makes for weak governance, and a government without an overall majority cannot force bills through parliament by demanding a party line from their MPs. The last hung parliament as a result of a general election occurred in 1974, so many within the electorate have not experienced the repercussions of such political limbo – perhaps a hint towards why so few feel compelled to change their vote. However, the possible ramifications of a hung parliament have been well publicised, which may account for the growing disquiet surrounding the issue.

With only 10% conceding that they do not know how to feel about the prospect of a hung parliament or simply admitting to having no idea about the issue, the possibility of such a result is clearly on the electorate’s mind.
However, 58% insist that their vote will not budge from their first choice party, whether or not that intention results in a hung parliament. So, despite the manifest worry people have about the occurrence of such a result, it looks unlikely that this will be the key reason for any change in voting patterns come polling day. It would seem that people want to vote for who they like, and only later deal with any possible consequences.

For survey details and full results, please click here

Related story – Kate Davies asks 'Why is the financial press getting hung up on a hung parliament?'