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.