What is a Coalition Government?

By Nigel Amaya on March 26 2018 in Politics

Coalition Governments in Germany have been composed of the Christian Social Union (SCU), Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Editorial credit: cbies / Shutterstock.com

A coalition government are usually formed in a parliamentary government in which no party forms a majority after an election. In this case, multiple political parties agree to support one another to form a government and make up the majority of a single party. A coalition government can also be formed when a country experiences crisis such as civil war or an economic crisis. In such cases, legitimacy is derived from the need for stability and the preference for unity over political strife.

Coalition Governments Around The World

There are several countries in the world where a coalition government has ruled in the past or those that currently have a coalition governing.   Some examples include Latvia, Lebanon, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Ukraine. The United Kingdom has also operated under coalition government where the Liberal Democrat party and the Conservative party famously joined hands to form the government in 2015. 

United Kingdom

Coalition governments in the United Kingdom have been formed due to a national crisis or a hung parliament, where no one party reaches a majority. In the last 120 years, the United Kingdom has seen six coalition governments. These six coalition governments have involved two parties; the Conservative party and the Liberal party. The most well-known coalition government in the United Kingdom was the one that operated during World War II from 1931 to 1940.

Germany

Coalition governments in Germany have been a regular occurance since their political parties general fail to reach majority in national elections. The major political parties in Germany that have been apart of these coalitions are the Christian Social Union (SCU) in Bavaria, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany, and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Germany. For instance, between 1998 and 2005, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) formed a coalition government. In Germany the coalition governments have never been formed by more than two parties.

Advantages of Coalition Governments

The significant advantage of coalition government is that it provides good governance. The government makes the decision that is reflective of the interests of more than one party, and therefore a larger portion of the electorate. Coalition government general debate until a consensus is formed about the direction of certain policies. Governments that have a single party forming the majority is more likely to implement policies that may not be wdely accepted and therefore might not be in the interest of the majority across the nation. 

Disadvantages of Coalition Governments

Ideology is fundamental for navigating through difficult economic and political matters. Coalition governments lack philosophies that are unifying therefore not able to have the long-term solution to political disagreements. Coalition governments may end up being unstable since they require reforms at frequent intervals. It is therefore quite difficult for such a government to push through with the major reforms. Historically, it has also taken coalition governments a long time to form, resulting in a less efficient governance system.

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