In an earlier post (28th May, 2013) I suggested that at least ten days after a general election be allowed for the formation of a government - time which would be especially important when a coalition government of two or more parties was being put together. I want now to suggest that it is rather silly to try to apply to a coalition government the same rules of collective responsibility as have traditionally applied to one-party governments. I suggest that any new coalition agreement should divide issues into at least four categories:
- Those areas where both (or all) the parties are agreed and on which they will work together and support each other both inside and outside parliament.
- Those areas on which the minority party(ies) do not agree with the majority party, but promise to offer “confidence and support” whilst reserving the right to offer alternative courses.
- Those areas where the minority party (ies) do not agree with the majority party and reserve the right to campaign on alternative policies and to abstain on any vote in parliament.
- Those areas on which there is no agreement and on which the minority parties have the right to campaign and vote independently.