Saturday 18 November 2017

Time to think outside the coalition box

A grand coalition of FG and FF is not the only option - minority government would be more representative

Taoiseach Enda Kenny could consider a minority government Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Taoiseach Enda Kenny could consider a minority government Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Jody Corcoran

Jody Corcoran

Minority governments can work, but they require more subtle skills than the simpler and cruder forms of majoritarian politics. It is often forgotten that seven of the 17 governments here up to the mid-1980s were minority governments. That is, over 40pc of governments which built the State did not have a clear majority. So we are not quite in uncharted waters. We are, however, on difficult terrain. But there is no need to panic. A solution to the current impasse can be found and that solution does not have to mean a 'grand coalition' between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

Some of the discussion, so far, has been a little hysterical. Everybody needs to calm down for a while, particularly the media, which is part of a majoritarian culture, and certain commentators who seem to think another large majority government is the only way forward when the advantages of a minority government have not yet been fully weighed up and assessed.

Almost all other Western countries cope without difficulty with a short period of negotiation and uncertainty between election and the formation of a government. There is no reason why it should be any different here. That will provide a chance to assess whether the time is now right for more representative minority government here. After eight convulsive years during which two separate governments comprising four different parties have been decimated at the polls, I believe the time was never more right to consider another way of doing the business of government.

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