Britain could be hit by a wave of "Greek style" unrest if a Tory government narrowly wins the election and tries to push through draconian spending cuts, Nick Clegg has warned.
The Liberal Democrat leader said he feared "serious social strife" if an administration with minimal support raised taxes, laid off public sector workers and froze wages.
Although he stressed he was "not campaigning for a hung parliament", he suggested it could be preferable to a government hampered by a lack of legitimacy.
Speaking in an interview with the Observer, Mr Clegg pointed out that Labour won office in 2005 with 22% of the eligible voters.
"Imagine the Conservatives go home and get an absolute majority, on 25% of the eligible vote," he said. "They then turn around in the next week or two and say we're going to chuck up VAT to 20%, we're going to start cutting teachers, cutting police and the wage bill in the public sector.
"I think if you're not careful in that situation... you'd get Greek style unrest.
"And so, my warning to people who think the old politics still works, is be careful what you wish for."
Referring to the prospect of a hung parliament, Mr Clegg told the newspaper: "Do I think politicians working together can be a good thing? Of course it can."
Last month strikes and protests against the Greek government austerity measures caused chaos, with thousands of people marching on the streets of Athens.