A Coalition Government is not abnormal

A coalition is not abnormal

Re: “West not warming up to coalition,” Lethbridge Herald January 12, 2009

A coalition government is more common in democratic countries than not. I lived in Switzerland for six years, then I worked with organizations in European countries for more than a decade. From that experience, I can tell you that only in the countries with a two- party parliamentary system, is a coalition seen as abnormal. With four serious political parties sitting in the House of Commons, I think the time may have come for Canada to see a coalition as a workable model.

Israel has never had a single party majority government, neither have Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Japan, and many others. And they are not unstable countries. For many years, Italian Communist Party had the largest number of seats in the parliament. The coalitions of other parties rarely allowed Communists to get into power. Can you imagine a coalition of Conservatives, N.D.P., and Greens? That’s sort of like what they have in Germany. And the German government is quite stable.

I think that a coalition is a good idea. Parties have to talk to each other constantly, and compromise is a way of life. It creates a complicated but civilized atmosphere to conduct a country’s business, because you never know when you have to go into a coalition with unlikely partners. Granted that changes are difficult. But when a change does happen, it is more enduring than with the two party system. In a two party system, switching back and forth between two ideological poles is the norm and the population is polarized, like in Australia, Canada, and the U.S.

When January 20 comes around and the currently prorogued Parliament returns, we may have to get used to the idea of coalition. I predict it won’t happen this time. But you never know. A virtual coalition of Conservatives and Liberals is a distinct possibility. Michael Ignatief seems ready to go into some kind of working relationship with Stephen Harper – sort of like a coalition. So, let’s stop calling names. Let’s bring civility into Canadian politics.


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