The more complex version
Representative democracy, currently the most common form of government, requires the electorate to express their opinion on who should voice their opinions and stand in for them in parliament. This is achieved by means of elections, which are held at regular intervals – usually every four years. Elections determine which candidates will be returned to parliament as M.P.’s; they also determine which political party is to form the government. Sometimes, however, no party is able to gain enough votes to form a government on their own in which case cooperation between parties becomes an option. This form of team work is called a coalition government and although sometimes inevitable, has certain advantages and disadvantages.
There is a lot to be said for coalition governments the most important being that they are more democratic as they represent a wider spectrum of public opinion. Left wing and right wing parties may have to face each other across a table and negotiate to determine a compromise all can agree on. This, in turn, ensures that extreme views leave their place to policies that all may agree on. Free universal health care may, for instance, be a step too far for a right wing party but free healthcare which exists in tandem with private health care may be acceptable. Undeniably, everyone stands to gain from such cooperation: the poor get the free service they desire while those who can afford it go private. Provided people are prepared to sit down, talk and listen, a lot can be achieved through coalition governments as many countries which have had nothing but this form of government for decades prove.
Things don’t always go so smoothly though and various roadblocks along the way may cause people to despair of coalitions. In an ideal world, one would expect members of parliament who swear an oath to uphold democracy and serve the people to the best of their ability todo so yet sometimes they refuse to compromise. Party policies which seem to be set in stone cannot be given up or even discussed; an attitude that leads to a stalemate. Democrats, for example, have always defended environmentalists as opposed to industry, while Republicans have been staunch supporters of industry denying the very existence of climate change. If the two sides refuse to give way from these positions, the coalition will not work. Alternatively, discussions may be prolonged delaying valuable decisions. Although eventually fruitful, the length of the negotiations may create problems.
In short, where there is good will and a genuine desire to make them work, coalitions can be a viable form of government. However, where there is no wish to negotiate and compromise; in short, where there is no attempt at team work, coalitions will be stumbling blocks preventing the smooth running of the state. Which of the two options will occur depends on the country, the parties involved and their goals.
THE PROS AND CONS OF COALITION GOVERNMENTS
The simple version
Representative democracy is the most common form of government in the world. In democratic countries there are regular elections. The purpose / aim of the elections is to choose members of parliament. Elections also determine the winning party and this party forms the government. Sometimes no party wins. In this case, team work is necessary. Parties have to work together and form the government. These governments are called coalition governments. There are various advantages and disadvantages of having coalition governments.
It can be said that coalition governments have various advantages. First of all, coalition governments are more democratic because they represent more political views in parliament. Parties with different opinions have to negotiate: they have to listen to each other, they have to talk to each other and they have to find a solution. The left wing and right wing parties can agree on increasing the minimum wage for instance. The left wing parties want a big increase and the right wing parties want a small increase but they can come to an agreement. If each side is ready to negotiate with each other, coalitions can be successful.
On the other hand, there are also many roadblocks which prevent coalitions from working. First of all, the work of the state should carry on without delay. However, if political parties cannot compromise, they cannot take a decision and everything stops. For example, the nationalist party in Turkey supports the idea of military action against Kurdish minorities whereas left wing parties support negotiations. These views will never change; no agreement will be reached and no solution will be found. As a result, everybody will lose. Another example is long discussions. No negotiations mean everything stops. This means the country suffers economically. For example; employees at Arcelik are protesting because decisions are not being taken. In short, disagreements can cause serious problems for coalitions.
All in all, in coalitions people with two different views have to find a middle way to find a solution for the good of the country. Sometimes they can sit at the table and compromise whereas sometimes they cannot because of various reasons. However, they should leave their individual interests to maintain the coalition. Thus, the parliament becomes more democratic and the country benefits.
This essay was written by: BORA BAYRAK and DÜCANE DEMİRTAŞ