Is Coalition Government Here to Stay?

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In many democratic countries, such as Germany, France, India, Israel and Italy, government by a coalition of political parties is considered normal. Often in such countries there are many political parties with a significant level of popular support in elections. This means no one party usually can gain more than 30% of the seats in the parliament or national assembly, so it is necessary for several parties to come together to form a viable government, generally under the premiership of the leader of the largest party involved. In other states, such as the UK, USA and Japan, there are fewer significant political parties and coalitions are rare, as after an election a winning party is able to form an effective government without any help from others. This debate is closely related to issues of voting reform, as countries with some form of proportional representation tend to have more political parties in parliament than those that use a first-past-the-post system, and so are more likely to have coalition governments.


Pros Cons

Coalition government is more democratic, and hence fairer, because it represents a much broader spectrum of public opinion than government by one party alone. In almost all coalitions, a majority of citizens voted for the parties which form the government and so their views and interests are represented in political decision-making. Coalition government is actually less democratic as the balance of power is inevitably held by the small parties who can barter their support for concessions from the main groups within the coalition. This means that a party with little popular support is able to impose its policies upon the majority by a process of political blackmail. Possible examples of this might include the role of religious parties in Israel, the Greens in Germany and France, and the demand of constitutional reforms by the Lib Dems in the UK as their price of coalition support in a future hung...
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