Harnessing Coalitions

Coalitions define the governance we see around us. The diversity and complexity of India makes coalitions an inevitable requisite for the Indian political system. To understand the implications of this form of a party structure we must look into the nature of a coalition.  A coalition government is formed when no single party is able to reach the position of being the majority party to form the government and when one party joins another party to contest the elections and form the government. This form a government has evolved into a political concept by the process of making party alliances before contesting elections. But why are coalitions so important? Political parties are the storehouses of the will of the people. They must progress in a way so as to accelerate welfare in the state by under taking appropriate policy measures. A country as big and varied as India most logically would find it difficult to reach a consensus on any given issue. When opinions diverge and ideologies of the people are different how can a government by the people survive? Would this not result in a clash of interests? – A conflict which would have devastating implications on a government which is supposed to be of, by and for the people. If the issues are not balanced, democracy would lose its essence. Thus, a coalition is the only hope to save the ship of democracy from sinking. Now how does this happen? A coalition tries to harmoniously balance the conflicts in political thought. It brings together like minded parties that form an alliance to strengthen their changes of attracting popular support. In the 1980’s, India as a nation undertook ambitious reforms in its political, economic and social institutions. This led to a breakdown of the one party system as the electorate became fragmented on the changing scenario. Hung assemblies marked the elections thereafter and these resulted in short lived governments. In this period of darkness that clouded the Indian democratic thought, coalitions brought about a hope for stability and accountability.

However, coalition governments aren’t as rosy as they appear. They have been tainted with thorns that need to be removed to achieve democracy in its purest form. So, in the wake of the 16th Lok Sabha elections of 2014, we need to re- examine the party structure prevalent in our country. We need to re-examine the values of our constitution and the extent of their fulfilment by the governments. We need to introspect on the political system we are intertwined in, correct the mistakes of our past establishing a political order which functions effectively and to the people’s satisfaction; most importantly we encourage political consciousness among the youth of this nation.

So now, ladies and gentlemen let’s look at the some of the problems that have become embedded in the coalition politics of our country.

  1. Different parties, different manifestos: A manifesto is a representation of a party’s policies to the people. It makes the people aware about the nature of the party’s work and its ideologies. When different parties club in together they might have a conflict of ideologies and history has shown us that a clash of ideologies has always had extreme repercussions.
  2. Parties try to get better portfolios for their candidates- This have often led parties to ignore the background of the candidate, for example his qualifications or his past criminal records.
  3. A coalition government is often volatile- A group of friends find it difficult to agree on which movie to watch, what more can we expect for greater questions like the pricing of petroleum or the extent of subsidies in the market?
  4. Role of small parties- Small parties lack the capacity to form a government and therefore they support the other parties to form government. After this point in conflict in decision making might result in the withdrawal of support which would mean that the electorate goes stumbling back to the polls.
  5. Does this bring about stability? – Coalitions may result in a breakdown of the government if they don’t work out. This is one of the major challenges that I see ahead of the upcoming general elections. The impacts of the newly formed AAP on the general elections need to be assessed and time shall show us the nature of its implications. I’ll save that for another time.

So till then, let’s pledge to be more involved in the politics of our country. Let’s try to think over the changes we want to see around us and let’s become informed citizens.

About the Author

387143_10151039257962194_448483858_nShivani Misra is pursuing law from IP University, Delhi. She is deeply interested in human rights and education for children. This drove her to volunteer for Make a Difference, an NGO which works with under privileged children. She believes that a sensitized youth can eradicate any problem that the society faces. She is currently working as the Research Associate with Alexis Centre for Public Policy and International Relations.


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