As the race for Number 10 enters its final days, the possibility of a hung parliament looms like an impending storm over the political leaders and those who will vote for them. With speculation surrounding the consequences of a hung parliament coming from all sides, and with the voting system coming under fire for its propensity to award disproportionate numbers of seats to a party that may not have won the majority of votes, it’s no wonder that the issue preoccupies the population.
And it seems the issue remains as contentious as ever, with the electorate divided over what would constitute the strongest, most effective government. When asked what they would prefer to see in the event that Labour comes third, with the Conservatives as the largest party (but without a majority), a substantial 40% said that Gordon Brown should make way for David Cameron to form a government. 24% thought Brown should continue as PM but work with the LibDems, while an additional 24% thought another Labour MP could come forward and lead a Labour government.
Men are more likely to back Cameron’s forming of a government than women (45% of men chose this option compared to 37% of women), as are Londoners, with 53% opting for this compared to 31% of Scots and 29% of those in the North of England. 27% of Liberal Democrat supporters would back Cameron in such a situation, but more of them, 32%, would prefer a Labour government. Perhaps surprisingly, if the Conservatives fail to win a majority, seven percent of Conservative supporters admit to preferring another Labour MP to take Brown’s place at the head of a Labour government, which could suggest a penchant among some for the ‘strong government’ that many argue results from a majority, over political allegiance. Or it could just point to a rather less surprising lack of support for Gordon Brown.
What does seem clear is that the idea of a coalition between all parties is a popular one. When asked about what the best course of action would be should Cameron win without a majority, 37% of the public would support a ‘grand coalition’ of all three parties, compared to 24% favouring a coalition with the LibDems and only 20% supporting cooperation with Labour. Three-party cooperation, despite the furore surrounding the possible consequences of a coalition, appears to be the most popular proposal, with women more likely to support this than men (40% compared to 33% respectively).