The Constitution Unit


Coalition Governments: Lessons from Overseas

January 2000 - December 2001

Sponsor: The Nuffield Foundation

Principal Investigator: Ben Seyd

About the project

The Unit undertook a major review of the way that coalition governments are formed and operate in various countries overseas. The research was led by Ben Seyd and funded by the Nuffield Foundation. Over the two years, Ben interviewed 70 policy makers in Denmark, Germany, Ireland and New Zealand, as well as officials and politicians in the devolved governments in the UK. His aim was to derive policy lessons for the new coalitions in Scotland and Wales, and to review the constitutional rules for government formation at Westminster, should coalitions ever become the norm at this tier. The report analyses the following issues:

  • The role of elections
  • The constitutional rules covering the formation and termination of governments
  • Negotiating a coalition and the coalition agreement
  • The management of coalitions
  • Strategies available to minority governments
  • Coalitions at the sub-national level