Most public affairs agency chiefs believe Gordon Brown will shy away from calling a general election this year, according to a survey by PRWeek.
To usher in 2009, PRWeek asked ten top lobbyists to predict when the election would take place.
Seven lobbyists suggested Brown would hold off to 2010. Weber Shandwick public affairs chairman Jon McLeod said: 'It still seems likely the Government will hang on until the May 2010 deadline, the electorate having emitted a spasm of pain and anger at the June 2009 local and European elections.'
Edelman public affairs MD Alex Bigg said: 'With such economic uncertainty ahead, I think it would be a huge risk for Brown to call an election a year before he has to.'
And Gardant Communications partner Rory O'Neill said of a 2010 election: 'There's nothing in it for the Government, which is wary of annoying an electorate that has a lot on its plate.'
But three of the ten lobbyists held a different view. Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chair Peter Bingle said: '2009 will be the year of the next election and I now believe that the month will be April or May.... History tells us that Prime Ministers who hang on until the bitter end tend to lose and lose badly. It is also the case that the PM and his closest advisers now believe that he can win an election.'
Hanover Communications MD Charles Lewington agreed. He said: 'I think Gordon and his advisers are rapidly coming round to the view that the earlier the election is held the better - they need to fight the "time for change" argument, and know that economic uncertainty is their best means for doing so.'
And Fishburn Hedges director Simon Redfern said: 'Triggering an election in June 2009 seems a pretty good bet if the polls bear up.'
The ten lobbyists were also asked to predict the outcome of the election. Five predicted a Tory majority and four predicted a hung Parliament. O'Neill put his neck on the line by predicting a Labour victory in 2010.
The same ten lobbyists previously agreed to predict the outcome of the mayoral election, with seven of the ten predicting a victory for Ken Livingstone (PRWeek, 25 April 2009).