Baljit Dhaka
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What is the Coalition Government?

A coalition government forms when two/more political parties form an alliance compromising on their concerned party policy and agenda.

So a coalition government is a government formed jointly by more than one political party. Parties may decide to form a coalition government if there is a hung parliament where no single party has a clear working majority in the House of Commons following a General Election.  


Janta Party 1977-1978 in the reign of PM Morarji Desai; 

National Front of 1989 – 1991. National Front (NF) was a coalition of political parties, led by the Janata Dal. 

The coalition's Prime Minister was V. P. Singh later succeeded by Chandra Shekhar; 

NDA in the rule of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It was the first coalition government to complete its full-term from 1999 to 2004. 

Merits of Coalition Government

Consensus or majority based decision is taken considering the views of every party.

Regional aspirations are fulfilled or considered.

Ensures representation of regional parties: By far, the largest advantage of coalition government at the center is the proportionate representation of regional political parties in the Lok Sabha. This ensures that they have a voice in the decisions or proceedings of the court.

Undemocratic bills are opposed: Coalitions represent the will of a broader section of the population thereby working as an effective tool to stave off the passage of undemocratic bills which are not in the interests of the larger democracy

Decision making is more democratic: Since many of the coalition members do not share a common ideology, they engage in widespread discourse regarding policy and decision making. This reflects the true essence of democracy.

Prevents polarisation: Political alliances mean that parties will have to compromise on radical ideologies and approaches to make decisions that are more in the interests of the people.

Past political mistakes will not be repeated: When diverse regional parties coalesce to form a union, they can concentrate on solution-oriented decision making and prevent the repetition of political mistakes.

Demerits of Coalition Government

Sometimes National interest is kept aside for accomplishing regional interest.

Generally, appeasement policies are considered rather developmental policies.

An undemocratic and unelected coalition: Coalition is made up of democratically elected representatives, but in itself, it is a way to grab power regardless of the verdict of the electorate.

Coalition creates political insecurities: Forming alliances is filled with challenges and each greater attention to these, the Centre tries to balance regional interests in different states. This creates a lack of congruence in the functioning of the federal polity in India.

Coalition symbolizes political instability

The coalition government is by compulsion: It is not an alliance formed by willing parties. Often, the parties in the coalition are at odds with each other on even basic issues. This leads to a lot of political infighting apart from creating political compulsions for parties to compromise on their ideals and values.

Outside support in a coalition can be withdrawn at any time.

Right policies cannot be implemented: As the ruling party has to pander to the needs of regional parties, often the right policies are prevented from being implemented. 

The government becomes fragile and seeks to engage in decision making which is biased towards its political survival rather than the welfare of the nation.