Friday, 23 April 2010

Minority and coalition governments can work

Peter Riddell of the Times offers an examination of a hung parliament looking at other European examples:

"If you look away from Westminster, single-party governments are the exception. Apart from Britain, there are only three in the EU: France, Malta and that paragon of good governance, Greece. Many countries most highly rated for good government, such as Germany, New Zealand and the Scandinavian nations have multi-party rule...Moreover, multi-party administrations have been as effective in maintaining fiscal discipline as single-party ones...The classic example is Sweden in the mid-1990s which had a budget deficit of around 12 per cent of national income, similar to Britain now. The Social Democrats elected in 1994 were in a minority but pushed through a tough deficit-reduction programme that slashed the stock of public debt by a half in a decade. Göran Persson, initially the finance minister, justified the cuts in a country dedicated to generous welfare provision by the slogan “those who are in debt are not free”. He became Prime Minister in 1996 and survived as head of a minority administration until 2006."

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