What does 2015 hold for the Liberal Democrats?

Nick Clegg Gestures

The year is almost over. How have the Liberal Democrats performed in 2014? What will 2015 hold for Nick Clegg's party and can it help them?

2014 has not been the best of years for the Liberal Democrats, but neither have many of the years since the party entered into coalition with the Conservatives.

Looking at polls from January of this year, the BBC’s poll of polls put them on 9%, as did YouGov, whilst ICM put them on 14%.

A BBC poll of polls on the 5th December just past also put them on 9%, whilst YouGov’s poll on the 7th put them on 8%. The party is performing about the same as it was at the start of the year in the polls, perhaps marginally worse as YouGov for example have occasionally had them on 6%.

For a party that got 23% - almost one in four votes - at the 2010 general election, the party has fallen far. But as for 2014 the party has remained steady, keeping hold of its core voters. Some of the main challenges the party has faced this year were disagreements with the Conservatives in the coalition, and a potential coup.

The party also lost ten of its eleven MEPs in May, leaving it with just one - two less than the Green party. Nick Clegg’s party also suffered losses in the council elections.

2015 presents some major challenges. The yearwill decide the future of the party. The election in May will have such an incredible impact on the future of the Lib Dems. A coalition with Conservatives or Labour could be an option. Both options will be like or loathed by many in the party and could make things worse, or help the party change its tune. However, with the rise of other smaller parties such as UKIP and fact that the Liberal Democrats could lose a significant proportion of their seats the party could go back to opposition.

Opposition would not be the worst thing for the Liberals - in fact it could provide the party opportunity to re-brand, re-organise and recover. But first, the party's initial aims must be to keep as many seats as possible. Seats will be lost, but how many is incredibly uncertain.

Overall, 2015 will change the Liberal Democrats. They could go from being a junior partner with the Conservatives, to being a junior partner of Labour. They could end up in opposition, or they could end up a small rump party in parliament on the fringes.

The Liberal Democrats need some sort of dramatic change. Only then will their fortunes turn around.

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What can help the Liberal Democrats in 2015? How many seats do you think they will manage to keep in May?