PHOTO:  Innes Willox says the Ai Group polled 252 businesses employing 87,000 people. AAP: Mick Tsikas

Chief executives are increasingly nervous about Australia’s economic prospects, with a quarter expecting business conditions to deteriorate this year, according to a closely watched survey.

The Australian Industry Group chief executive survey has singled out uncertainties surrounding the coming federal election, industrial relations, Brexit and global trade tensions as key risks to business.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said the poll of 252 businesses employing 87,000 workers presented an “underwhelming view” of political leadership and a shift to populist policies as the Coalition faces a likely electoral defeat.