Coalition government at Westminster


This report from the UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at the process of forming a coalition government.

Coalitions are one solution to the problem of forming a government when no party has an overall majority. In contrast to countries where coalition government is the norm, the UK has few formal rules on how coalition negotiations should be conducted. There is also limited institutional memory to guide the process, as the UK has had just one national coalition government since 1945. In the event of a hung parliament, the parties will also be under pressure to rapidly reach an agreement on the formation of a new government. But the choices made during these negotiations can have far-reaching consequences for how any potential coalition functions over subsequent years. This paper examines how the process of entering a coalition could work, the role of the civil service and some of the lessons from the coalition negotiations in 2010

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