Prime Minister Stephen Harper discusses coalitions, his leadership style, the minority government dilemma and how his view of the issues has changed after five years in office in the first of a two-part interview with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge.

When Mansbridge asked Harper about his continued criticism of coalitions and about David Cameron's current coalition in Britain, the prime minister replied that the results of that country's election last fall sparked a fierce debate over which party had a legitimate claim to form a government.

"They had that debate there, and what I think the public concluded was undemocratic and not really legitimate was the coalition of parties that lost an election," Harper said. "Mr. Cameron won the election, and then was able to form a coalition.

"I think, really, that's the issue. I think if coalition is part of what the public was prepared to vote for … but I think when it's a coalition that is seeming to overturn the result of the election … that's when the public have a big problem with that."

Also in the interview:

* The prime minister said his government has demonstrated that a minority Parliament "can work," but he concedes "it hasn't always been pretty."
* On accusations he is a "one-man band," Harper replied that every prime minister across the political spectrum, from Pierre Trudeau to Brian Mulroney, has faced similar labels, because the PM is the "chief executive office" of Canada's government. He said the vast majority of his government's decisions is based on where his "team" wants to go.
* Harper also conceded five years in office has made him "a bit greyer" on how he sees issues and more appreciative of "the complexity of viewpoints" held by Canadians.

Part two of Mansbridge's interview with the prime minister will air on Tuesday night on CBC News: The National.

CBC News: The National airs 10 p.m. ET (10:30 NT) on CBC-TV, and 9 and 11 p.m. ET/PT on CBC News Network