Voters tend to believe the leader of the largest party has the better claim to be Prime Minister, not the leader of whichever group of parties can command a majority

The public may be headed for disappointment if the leader of the largest party on May 8th fails to form a government – they think that leader has the better claim to become PM. 

Only one in four British people (26%) feel that the leader of the biggest group of MPs – even if it doesn’t include the largest party – has the mandate to move into Number Ten. Nearly twice as many (48%) believe the leader of the party with the most seats has the more credible claim, even if he or she cannot command a majority. 

Voters from each of the main parties lean towards preferring the leader of the largest party, though only Conservatives prefer it by a majority (69%). Liberal Democrats are the most divided: 41% of them say the leader of the party which can command a majority has the better claim to be Prime Minister, while 45% favour the leader with the most MPs.

Following the 2010 election, there was a hung parliament, but the largest party (the Conservative party) was able to form a government that could command a majority by joining with the Liberal Democrats in a formal coalition.

However, if the latest forecasts are correct, in 2015 David Cameron may well emerge as the leader of the party with the largest number of seats, but without a group of supportive parties large enough to command a majority – leaving Labour to lead a government, and Ed Miliband to be PM.

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See the full poll results

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