Let's All Get Together And Form A Coalition!

UK politicians, and the UK electorate, are terrified of coalitions. There probably isn't anything more likely to destroy a government's chances before they even get into office than the possibility that they might share a little power and influence with anyone else. To anyone from abroad, this can seem strangely naive and unsophisticated. If the parliament doesn't produce a majority, why should one party form a government alone? Well, they shouldn't. And in the rest of the world, that regularly just works. In fact, Ireland just made it work this past weekend, after a very strange election result.

Ireland had an election recently, though it seems impossibly long ago, before the current, Covid reality took hold. Then, for many months, nothing happened. No government was formed, and the previous government continued in power. In fact, not only did that government continue in power, it was the second time it had failed to win a majority, and continued in power with the support of the opposition. The first time? At the last election, five years previously. Ireland went from a stable, functional minority government that had been in power through all the problems of Brexit, to one that dealt with all the challenges of Coronavirus lockdown, to a left-right coalition that somehow feels bizarrely dependable. The Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Green coalition looks like it should work. And why? Because Anyone-But-Sinn-Fein is a powerful motivator, and Ireland's sophisticated electorate and political system easily have the ability to make this work. If only that were true elsewhere...

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Ev Buckley