Gordon Brown has matched David Cameron's warnings about a hung parliament, saying a Commons lacking a party with an overall majority would be "bad" for Britain.
The prime minister's comments on BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show followed the Conservative leader's statement yesterday that Britain needed a "decisive" victory by one party.
"I want a majority, so obviously a hung parliament would be a bad thing for this country because I want a majority," Mr Brown said.
The prime minister repeated his admission that the first televised leaders' debate on Thursday had left the general election campaign "wide open".
He suggested the public viewed him as a "tough headteacher" and conceded: "I lost on presentation, I lost on style."
Mr Brown sought to shift the focus to the third leaders' debate, hosted by the BBC in two weeks, which will focus on the economy. The final debate is preceeded by a Sky debate on foreign affairs this Thursday.
"People said this election was going to be a fait accompli before it started. Actually it's open. As we move from the presentational issues of the debate... it'll move to who's best to equip this country for the future?" he added.
"I feel if you ask people today what the issues at the election are they will probably say it's our economic prospects this year, and what will happen to our economy in future years - the creation of new jobs, government working with industry and protecting our frontline services.
"This is not an X Factor talent show, this is about what policies which are going to right for the country."
Mr Brown said people should be deeply suspicious about Conservative plans to cut "six thousand million pounds" from public spending next year.
"That must have an impact on prospects, jobs, on the economy," he warned. Mr Cameron has pointed out £6 billion is only one per cent of total public spending.
The prime minister seemed in jovial mood, despite his party appearing third in the polls for the first time in many years. He quickly rejected the suggestion that he did not get on with Mr Cameron at a personal level, insisting: "I like David to talk to, don't be really ridiculous."