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Last Updated: Monday, 25 June 2007, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
'Rainbow coalition' poll backing
Mike German, Nick Bourne, Rhodri Morgan and Ieaun Wyn Jones
A rainbow alliance of Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives is the most popular coalition option for governing Wales, according to a poll.

A total of 41% of people surveyed in the ICM telephone poll for BBC Wales said they favoured a coalition of opposition parties in the assembly.

A deal between Labour and Plaid won backing from 28%, while 21% supported a Labour-Lib Dem coalition.

Talks to find a stable government for Wales are now in their final stages.

More than 1,000 people were interviewed by ICM research by telephone last week in the poll.

Plaid, which has already concluded negotiations on a possible alliance with the two other opposition parties, now has to decide whether it will work with Labour in government instead.

WHICH PARTIES WOULD YOU PREFER TO WORK TOGETHER?
Plaid-Con-Lib Dem: 41%
Labour-Plaid: 28%
Labour-Lib Dem: 21%
Other/don't know: 10%
Source: ICM telephone poll for BBC Wales. A random sample of 1,001 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed by phone on 19-22 June.

Plaid national council meets on 7 July to decide which direction to take.

Plaid AM Alun Ffred Jones said: "Most interesting is the fact that most people expect Plaid Cymru to be part of the next government, however it's formed."

But he said the poll was just a "snapshot" of public opinion.

"(First Minister) Rhodri Morgan was allowed to form a government by the other parties and I think it was right and proper that we should ask the Labour Party whether they were serious about negotiating and they have been."

'Stable government'

More than half of those polled - 57% - thought a coalition government would be good, while 27% said they were against the idea.

Labour, which is five seats short of a majority in the assembly elected on 3 May, is to hold a special conference to confirm any Plaid deal.

But Labour Business and Budget Minister Jane Hutt said they had reached an agreement.

"We have had very serious and intensive discussions with Plaid, it has reached conclusion and this is about ensuring we have a stable government," she added.

The poll suggests that Rhodri Morgan remains the strongest and most popular candidate to lead any coalition government in Wales.

However, given a straight choice between Mr Morgan and Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, just 48% backed Mr Morgan.

Another 34% thought Mr Jones would make the best coalition leader.

But nearly one in five of those polled (18%) could not decide between them.

Conservative AM Jonathan Morgan said: "A collation of the three opposition parties would be healthy for Wales. I think it would introduce a new dynamic.

Rhodri Morgan
Rhodri Morgan was a more popular choice of first minister than Ieuan Wyn Jones in the poll

He added that forming an administration with the three opposition parties would be "enormous, in terms of a cultural change of attitude".

However, he did admit to being frustrated because the process has "gone on so long".

But Liberal Democrat AM Jenny Randerson warned Plaid against entering into government with Labour.

"Having been in government with Labour, I know it was hard work to keep them to the letter of your agreement every day of the week," Ms Randerson said.

Interviewees were also asked how they would respond to a referendum on giving the Welsh assembly full law-making powers, and the ability to raise its own taxes.

Opinion was divided with 47% in favour of the move and. 44% against it while 9% did not know.




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