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coalitions, minority government and hung parliaments

In situations where an election produces a legislature in which no single party has an overall majority, and thus cannot guarantee that it can put its proposals into law, government may proceed in one of two ways. One possibility is for a party, usually the largest, to form a minority government and hope for, or negotiate, the support of one or more other parties for their legislative proposals. The other possibility is that two or more parties might enter into a formal agreement, in which government posts are shared, and thus create a coalition government. This coalition would normally include the largest party, but in principle any group of parties that could agree on enough policy and form a winning majority could form a coalition government. A coalition government is likely to be more stable and long lasting than a minority government, while a minority government is unlikely to last a full term and a further election is likely when its legislative support evaporates. Coalition government is a way of life in many political systems.

What follows is a collection of links to material that illustrates various aspects of coalition and minority government in Britain and around the world.

General

Australia

Britain

In Britain a parliament in which no party has an overall majority is frequently referred to as a 'hung parliament'. There is no tradition of party co-operation in Britain and, for some people, an advantage of the 'first past the post' electoral system is thought to be that it is less likely to produce a result that requires such party co-operation. This view rather oversimplifies how electoral systems work.

Bulgaria

Canada

Denmark

France

Germany

Iraq

Israel

Italy

Kenya

Netherlands

Norway

Romania

Spain

Sweden

Taiwan