With the election a dead heat, is a minority government now the most likely outcome?

Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon face off during last week's BBC TV debate (Source: Getty)

Charles Lewington, managing director of Hanover Communications, says Yes.

The polls currently show the most likely outcome of the election is a deal between Labour and the SNP, both of which have ruled out a coalition with the other. The only party which could possibly provide enough seats to get one of the major parties over the line, and is willing to form a coalition, is the Liberal Democrats.

The collapse in the Lib Dem vote means they could lose as many as 25 seats, leaving them with too few MPs to give either of the two main parties a working majority. Even if the Lib Dems are lucky and the numbers do add up, the internal politics of forming a coalition will be difficult.

The leaders of each party involved in negotiations will have to sell the terms of any coalition deal to their backbenchers, many of whom will be resistant. At present, all the signs point to a minority government, but it will be interesting to see how the markets (and in turn voters) react to a possible Labour/SNP deal if the numbers remain the same.

Tim Cockerill, investment director at Rowan Dartington, says No.

Before the last General Election, a coalition government in the UK was unknown and unwanted, but as the current one has proved, it’s not all bad. Of course, it’s hard to know whether the Lib Dems really did influence policy or whether the Conservatives railroaded everything through, but either way I think the country will be quite happy with another coalition – and the parties know this.

So the prospects of a minority party holding power seems unlikely. Should it happen, it’s liable to be unstable and ineffective, leading to a moribund Parliament, and it would likely trigger another election. Second time round, the electorate would no doubt shift their voting patterns and we’d either have a majority (unlikely) or the creation of a coalition.

Yet in the first round, I’m sure the parties will find enough common ground to form a coalition – perhaps it will be the Lib Dems doing it again, switching sides to be with Labour. Now that would be fun.

Visit our General Election poll tracker to see how the polls changed in the build-up to election day. 

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