A coalition government

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A coalition government is a form of government where multiple political parties join together to form an alliance, sharing power and responsibilities. In India, coalition governments have become increasingly common due to the rise of regional parties and the decline of a single dominant national party securing an outright majority in the Lok Sabha elections. Here’s how coalition governments work in India:

  1. Formation:
    • If no single party wins a majority (272 seats or more) in the Lok Sabha elections, the President invites the largest party or pre-poll alliance to form the government.
    • The largest party or alliance then negotiates with other parties to secure their support and form a coalition government.
    • The coalition partners agree on a common minimum program and power-sharing arrangements, including the distribution of ministerial portfolios.

  2. Leadership:
    • The leader of the largest party or alliance in the coalition typically becomes the Prime Minister.
    • Other parties in the coalition are allocated ministerial positions based on their strength and negotiated terms.

  3. Decision-making:
    • Major policy decisions are taken through consensus among the coalition partners.
    • The coalition partners often have a coordination committee to resolve differences and maintain unity.
    • Compromises and adjustments are necessary to accommodate the diverse ideologies and interests of the coalition partners.

  4. Stability:
    • Coalition governments can be fragile, as partners may withdraw support over policy differences or power struggles.
    • Maintaining the coalition requires constant negotiation, compromise, and power-sharing among the partners.
    • Frequent conflicts or the withdrawal of a key partner can lead to the collapse of the coalition government.

  5. Role of the President:
    • In case no clear coalition emerges, the President can use their discretionary powers to invite the leader who is most likely to command the confidence of the Lok Sabha.
    • The President can also call for a floor test to determine if the coalition government enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha.

Coalition governments in India have become a norm since the late 1990s, with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by the Indian National Congress being the most prominent examples. While coalition governments can provide stability and representation to diverse interests, they also face challenges in maintaining unity and effective governance.

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