Following that Dutch article I linked to yesterday, I’ve been looking into how coalitions get formed in other countries and found some interesting information about the aftermath of the German elections of 2005.
The election took place on September 18 and returned an inconclusive result, with the CDU and SPD almost equal on seats and neither able to achieve a majority with their preferred coalition party (the FDP for the CDU, the Greens for the SPD). First each of the big parties tried to arrange a coalition with both the small parties and when those failed, they ended up negotiating for a grand coalition of the CDU and SDP. Agreement in principle on that was finally reached on October 10 – 22 days after the election – with detailed negotiations carrying on into November with Angela Merkel not being elected as Chancellor until 22 November – 2 months after the election. Even in 2009, with an election that resulted in a much clearer result, it took a month for the CDU and FDP to agree all the details of their coalition.
Now, do you remember the German economy or society collapsing at either time? Even last year, when there was a global financial crisis, no one panicked that adults were taking the time to talk things through and get them right, rather than forcing Merkel and Gudio Westerwelle to come to an agreement in the shortest possible time. This mad insistence that we must have an agreement and we must have a government and we must have it now is nothing more than that good old fashioned British principle of “something must be done, this is something, therefore it must be done”.
I still don’t know whether I’ll agree or not with whatever the various negotiations come up with, but I’m mature enough to wait for them to go through calm and reasonable discussions, instead of expecting them to engage in some form of political speed dating with the news media holding guns to their heads while screaming at them to do something.