LONDON (Reuters) - More than half of British voters believe the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government will collapse before 2015, when the next election is due, an opinion poll showed on Monday.
The coalition has endured a difficult year, faced with a shrinking economy and a surge in disagreements between the two parties over policies such as political reform and Britain's relationship with the rest of Europe.
Speculation that the coalition, formed in 2010, may break up was supported by an online ICM poll for the left-leaning Guardian newspaper which found 54 percent of voters think the coalition will not survive into 2015.
About one in 10 predict a split before the end of this year and only 16 percent expect the two parties to govern together, as planned, to the May 2015 election.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and his Liberal Democrat deputy Nick Clegg insist their parties will see their term through in order to complete what they came together to do - slash a budget deficit that was around 160 billion pounds, more than 11 percent of GDP, at the time of the 2010 election.
The Conservatives, with 305 seats in the 650-seat lower House of Commons, far outweigh the Lib Dems with 57 seats, though both lost ground to opposition Labour in mid-term local elections.
Analysts say that a coalition split could be catastrophic for the Lib Dems, whose popularity has sunk furthest since 2010, because it could trigger an election in which they would expect to be punished for giving in to the Conservatives on totemic policies.
Cameron has staked much of his own political capital on the success of his coalition. Pulling the Conservatives out of it would put his own job in danger and raise the risk of an election in which the Labour opposition could make big gains.
Most commentators say the two parties would do best to stay together until 2015 and hope the economy improves enough by then to claim their policies are responsible.
(Reporting by Matt Falloon, editing by Tim Pearce)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp