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Meaning of Coalition Government

  • The term ‘coalition’ is derived from the Latin world ‘coalition’ which means ‘to grow together’. Thus, technically, coalition means the act of uniting parts into one body or whole.
  • Politically, coalition means an alliance of distinct political parties.
  • Coalition usually occurs in modern parliaments when no single political party can muster a majority of votes.
  • Two or more parties, who have enough elected members between them to form a majority, may then be able to agree on a common programme that does not require too many drastic compromises with their individual policies and can proceed to form a government.


  • Principally coalition governance has two concepts involved. One is ‘common governance’ which is based on a common decision-making process. Other is ‘joint governance’ which is based on the distribution of power.
  • Operation of the coalition is not regulated by any legal staff.
  • Pragmatism is the hallmark of coalition politics and not ideology.
  • The pre-poll coalition is considered fairer and advantageous as electorates get to know about the joint manifesto.

Merits of Coalition Government

  • There is an accommodation of diverse interests in the functioning of the government.
  • A coalition governments acts as a channel to meet the expectations and redress the grievances of different groups
  • India is a highly diversified country. There are different cultures, languages, castes, religions and ethnic groups. This means that the coalition government’s more representative in nature and reflects the popular opinion of the electorate.
  • It comprises different political parties having their own ideologies or agendas. But the government policy requires the concurrence of all the coalition partners. Therefore, a coalition government leads to consensus-based politics.
  • Coalition politics strengthens the federal fabric of the Indian political system. This is because a coalition governments is more sensitive and responsive to regional demands.
  • A coalition government reduces the chances of despotic rule. This is due to the reduced domination of a single political party in the functioning of the government. All the members of the coalition participate in the decision making.

DeMerits of Coalition Government

  • They are unstable or prone to instability. The difference of opinion among coalition members leads to the collapse of the government
  • Leadership of the Prime Minister is a principle of parliamentary form of government. This principle is curtailed in a coalition government as the Prime Minister is required to consult the coalition partners before taking any major decisions.
  • The Steering Committee or the Coordination Committee of the coalition partners acts as the ‘Super-Cabinet’ and thereby it undermines the role and position of the cabinet in the functioning of the government machinery.
  • There is a possibility of the smaller constituents of the coalition governnment playing the role of a ‘king-maker’. They demand more than strength in the Parliament.
  • The leaders of regional parties bring in the regional facts in the national decision-making. They pressurise the central executive to act on their lines; otherwise, they would threaten to withdraw from the coalition.
  • The members of the coalition governments do not assume responsibility for the administrative failures and lapses. They could play blame games and there by escape from collective and individual responsibilities.

Coalition and Ethics:

  • The Constitution should be amended to ensure that if one or more parties in a coalition with a common programme mandated by the electorate either explicitly before the elections or implicitly while forming the government, realign midstream with one or more parties outside the coalition, then Members of that party or parties shall have to seek a fresh mandate from the electorate.


Indian Polity

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