Do the public want a Conservative/Liberal alliance?

Following the election results which have resulted in a balanced or hung parliament (depending on your point of view, presumably) there has been much discussion on the possible outcomes for the various parties, in particular with the announcements of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in discussions together about forming an alliance.

We have continued our analysis in the run up to the election by analysing over 4,500 comments on the BBC Have your say discussion forum where the topic of discussion is focussed on what happens next following the results.

To begin with, let us examine what words are appearing in context with the word ‘government’. We see unsurprisingly the words ‘coalition’, ‘minority’ coming through very strongly but we also see ‘Conservatives’ and ‘lib’ ‘dems’ also strongly in context with the word ‘government’. The word ‘Labour’ is conspicuous by its absence, implying that the electorate does not associate the incumbent party with governing the country. However the fact that Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are associated closely with the word government shows that the public are discussing these two parties in relation to them forming the new government.

Let us now look to see how the respective party leaders fare with a similar analysis. If we begin with David Cameron, we see that the same theme predominates. Nick Clegg comes through closely in context with David Cameron, along with the words ‘form’ and ‘minority’. We also see words like ‘deal’, ‘work’, ‘agreement’, ‘coalition’ and ‘reform’. This would show that the electorate are again discussing how the Conservative party can form a government on the back of an alliance with the Liberal Democrats.

We can follow this analysis up with the same for Nick Clegg. Here we see ‘reform’ coming through extremely strongly, which implies that the public expect Nick Clegg to bring about reform (probably in the voting system) as the price for any alliance with either party. We again see the Conservative party coming through strongly with Labour again conspicuous by its absence. Some interesting words coming through include ‘referendum’, probably for any changes to the voting system, and ‘suicide’ implying that the expected deal between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats is not without its risks for Nick Clegg. It is also interesting to note that Gordon Brown does in fact come through in context, although not as strongly as David Cameron.

Finally, let us examine the reaction to Gordon Brown. In contrast to the other two leaders, we see some strongly negative words coming through, such as ‘resign’, ‘lost’, ‘mess’, ‘wrong’ and ‘unelected’. It is also interesting to note that Nick Clegg is shown in extremely close context to Gordon Brown but this is not the case the other way around. This shows that the only option open to Gordon Brown is the deal with the Liberal Democrats. However Nick Clegg has both options open.

As things change in the coming days we will analyse further online content as and when it appears.

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