Denseman on the Rattis

Formerly known as the Widmann Blog


Coalition stability and the UK

Coalition Pro/Con
Originally uploaded by Zi ?

More and more people are pointing out that coalitions can lead to stable and successful governments, at least in continental Europe, the point being that one shouldn’t fear the so-called “hung parliament” that so many supporters of the two big parties dread.

I agree, and I actually think that it would be much better for the UK instead of the adversarial two-party politics that Westminster is focused on.

However, discussing coalitions, Fraser Nelson was worrying that “if everyone thinks they’re one year away from a new election how popular are cuts going to be”.

I think this is exactly why coalitions have worked badly in the UK in the past.

In countries where coalitions are successful, it’s also the case that they have fixed-term parliaments and/or an electoral system that means that there is no hope for any one party to get a majority.

In other words, in many countries the parties know that they have to make coalition a success, because they have no alternative.

Sadly, however, if no single party gets a majority after this year’s general election, it’s likely they’ll only treat coalition as a way to prepare for the following general election, which will happen as soon as the PM of the day thinks that he can get a majority by calling an election.

The consequence of this is that the LibDems shouldn’t hope for four years of influence. At the most, they’ll be influential for a year, so they’ll have to make the most of it, especially by changing the electoral system.

2 thoughts on “Coalition stability and the UK

  • I don’t like the system of the government being able to call for an election anyway. Its only use is to game opinion polls. The regular elections should be held at fixed intervals – that would also reduce the economic uncertainty.

  • I think there is a point in being able to call an election early if something unexpected happens (e.g., if the prime minister dies or resigns), but it definitely shouldn’t be something the prime minister can do at their leisure.


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