Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Shaky agreement?

John F. Burns, writing in The New York Times, offers evidence that coalition government in the UK is even more difficult than it looks.

A Governing Coalition, Increasingly, of the Unwilling
With the leaders of both parties in the governing coalition pledged to uphold their pact until a new election in 2015, Britain, at least on the face of it, has the basis for political stability…

But as it approaches the 18th-month mark, Britain’s first peacetime coalition government in nearly 70 years has come to resemble a leaky boat in heaving seas. A groundswell of unease in both parties, the Conservatives under Prime Minister David Cameron and the Liberal Democrats under the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has heightened the underlying political tensions and raised new doubts about how long the pact will last.

If most political analysts believe that the coalition will endure, their judgment rests less on inherent strength in the partnership than in the reluctance of all three major parties… to agree to an early election….

Each fall, their annual conferences provide a showcase for the parties… [and] can present hazards for the party leaders, especially when powerful blocs are close to open revolt, or at least in vigorous dissent.

That is the case for all three parties this year, with the touchstones being the economy and the government’s harsh program of public spending cuts, averaging close to 20 percent across the board…

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