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Meanwhile, Liberal Democrats have borne the brunt of the abuse in the press.

Mr. Clegg’s supporters were enraged when he broke his party’s promise to scrap university tuition fees and agreed with the Conservatives to let them increase to nearly $15,000 a year.

Students took to the streets in angry protest. Columnists and comedians relentlessly have mocked Mr. Clegg, calling him spineless.

“We are not being considered when they make decisions,” said Bavneeta Rai, 19, of West Middlesex, a student at Brunel University. “They need to understand that we are the future, and if we don’t have an education, it’s their future that is being damaged.”

Lord David Steel, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, says the reversal on tuition fees was a mistake that has cost his party the trust of constituents. “I don’t think it was a mistake to go into coalition, but a mistake to rush it,” he said.

But compromises are the stuff of which coalitions are made, said Zac Goldsmith, a Conservative lawmaker for Greater London. “Coalitions are always going to be difficult and particularly in countries not used to them.”

What’s more, Ms. Bray noted that Liberal Democrats never before have been part of a government and are only just beginning to come to grips with the tough decisions necessary when one is actually in power.

If the economy does turn around, said Ms. Bray, then the Liberal Democrats will be able to say, “Look, we did something very good. We were part of government and saved the economy.”

Still, Liberal Democrats were defeated embarrassingly in a March 3 parliamentary by-election in Barnsley, in which they placed sixth out of six parties. Winner Dan Jarvis, of the Labor Party, said the results sent a message about the coalition’s popularity.

Pressure on the Liberal Democrats from their grassroots supporters could increase if, as expected, the party doesn’t do well in the May 5 nationwide local council elections.

Several polls on show Labor gaining support across the country, largely at the expense of the Liberal Democrats, though Conservatives also are predicted to lose seats.

Hand-wringing aside, Liberal Democrats have succeeded in delivering many of the promises in their manifesto, Mr. Thurso said. The coalition has agreed to eliminate taxes for those earning less than $16,000 a year. It has protected international aid, and it has pushed through much of its civil liberties agenda.

Conservatives, as well, have muscled through much of their agenda, including dramatic budget cuts and reforms to welfare and the National Health Service.

Despite the gains, it is the economy that ultimately will determine the coalition’s success.

But even if all goes terribly right in the next five years, Mr. Lloyd said, it’s the Conservatives who likely will get the credit while the Liberal Democrats end up “the abandoned wife cursing across the erstwhile marital home.”