BBC Newsnight Legitimacy Poll
Poll of 1,003 Britons for BBC Newsnight about the legitimacy of the next government

As attention turns to the make-up of the next government and the potential partnerships helping to get Labour or the Conservatives over the line, a new BBC Newsnight poll conducted by ComRes points to questions over legitimacy of the next government – whatever the likely outcome.

A majority of Britons (55%) think that, in the event of a hung parliament, the leader of the party with most MPs should become Prime Minister, while a third (34%) think it should be the leader who can form a partnership of the largest number of MPs including those from smaller parties.

There are significant differences of opinion between the main political parties however, with seven in ten (69%) Conservative supporters in favour of the PM being the leader of the party with most MPs, compared to 55% of Labour voters.

However, when thinking in more detail about what it might mean for legitimacy as to who gets to form a government the public are more divided. While around half (47%) say the most legitimate way of forming a government would be for the Conservatives or Labour to form a partnership of the largest number of MPs with the support of smaller parties, two in five (41%) say it would be for the party with the largest number of MPs to form a partnership with whichever party they want.

Again, there are differences between Conservatives and Labour voters with 57% of Conservatives favouring the largest party partnering with whoever they want, and 52% of Labour voters favouring the party who can form a partnership of the largest number of MPs with the help of smaller parties.

Half (53%) of Britons think a government that is only able to govern based on the support of parties representing the nations (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) is legitimate, while a third (34%) think it is not.

Labour are significantly more likely than Conservatives to think a government supported by parties from the nations is more legitimate. Two thirds of Labour voters (66%) say it would be legitimate compared to 47% of Conservatives.

More Britons are concerned about UKIP supporting a government than any of the other smaller parties. More than half (56%) say they are concerned about UKIP lending their support to one of the two main parties in order to govern, compared to 52% concerned about the SNP. Three quarters of Conservatives (75%) are concerned about the SNP lending their support to a governing party compared to just 44% of Labour voters.

The Liberal Democrats are the least concerning potential partner, with 68% saying they are unconcerned about the Lib Dems supporting a party to govern.

Results

  1. Thinking about the upcoming general election, it is possible that no single party will win a majority of MPs. In this situation, who should become Prime Minister?
Statement Agree
The Leader of the party with most MPs 55%
The leader of the party who can form a partnership of the largest number of MPs including those from smaller parties 34%
Don’t know 11%

Base: GB adults (n=1,003).

  1. If both Labour and the Conservatives do not win a majority of MPs, which way of forming a Government would be the most legitimate?
Statement Agree
The party with the largest number of MPs forming a partnership with whichever party they want 41%
The party who can form a partnership of the largest number of MPs with the support of smaller parties 47%
Don’t know 12%

Base: GB adults (n=1,003).

  1. Do you think that a government is legitimate or not if it is only able to govern based on the support of a party or parties representing specific nations (for example, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)?
Statement Agree
Is legitimate 53%
Is not legitimate 34%
Don’t know 13%

Base: GB adults (n=1,003).

  1. In order to govern how concerned or otherwise would you be about each of the following smaller parties lending their support to one of the two main parties?
Statement Concerned Unconcerned Don’t know
UKIP 56% 41% 4%
The SNP, from Scotland 52% 44% 4%
The Liberal Democrats 28% 68% 4%
The Democratic Unionist Party, from Northern Ireland 46% 47% 8%
Plaid Cymru, from Wales 35% 60% 5%

Base: GB adults (n=1,003).

 

 

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Date Published
28th April 2015
Client
BBC Newsnight
Methodology
ComRes interviewed 1,003 GB adults by telephone between 24th and 26th April 2015. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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