Amity School of Communication
AMITY UNIVERSITY RAJASTHAN
Effects and implications of coalition governments on the political scenario in India Abstract:
Parliamentary democracies ruled by multiparty cabinets make foreign policy decisions in a fairly unique institutional context, complicated by the politics of coalition government. Recent research suggests that this context is associated with foreign policy behaviors that are quite distinct in character from foreign policy made by single party cabinets. In particular, coalitions tend to engage in more extreme (both more peaceful and more aggressive) and more committed foreign policies. In this paper, we examine the reasons behind extreme foreign policy choices by coalition cabinets. We also investigate the proposition that some coalitions are more likely to engage in conflictual behavior, while others are more likely to be cooperative. In doing so, we unpack the category of coalitions and study the effects that certain cabinet characteristics have on foreign policy. In particular, we examine the effects of coalition strength, the number of parties in the coalition, and the ideological placement of coalition parties. These characteristics stem from different institutional and political situations that coalitions face, but are also connected to long-standing psychological explanations of group decision making. Our study is a quantitative analysis using published data on the characteristics of coalitions. Politics of India
The place in a framework of a federal parliamentary multi-party representative democratic republic modeled after the British Westminster System. The Prime Minister of India is the head of government, while the President of India is the formal head of state and holds substantial reserve powers, placing him or her in approximately the same position as the British monarch. Executive power is exercised by the government. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the Parliament of India. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. According to its constitution, India is a "sovereign socialist secular democratic republic." India is the largest state by population with a democratically-elected government. Like the United States, India has a federal form of government, however, the central government in India has greater power in relation to its states, and its central government is patterned after the British parliamentary system. Regarding the former, "the Centre", the national government, can and has dismissed state governments if no majority party or coalition is able to form a government or under specific Constitutional clauses, and can impose direct federal rule known as President's rule. Locally, the Panchayati Raj system has several administrative functions. For most of the years since independence, the federal government has been led by the Indian National Congress (INC), Politics in the states have been dominated by several national parties including the INC, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) and various regional parties. From 1950 to 1990, barring two brief periods, the INC enjoyed a parliamentary majority. The INC was out of power between 1977 and 1980, when the Janata Party won the election owing to public discontent with the corruption of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In 1989, a Janata Dal-led National Front coalition in alliance with the Left Front coalition won the elections but managed to stay in power for only two years. As the 1991 elections gave no political party a majority, the INC formed a minority government under Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and was able to complete its five-year term. The years 1996–1998 were a period of turmoil in the federal government with several short-lived alliances holding sway. The BJP formed a government briefly in 1996, followed by the United Front coalition that excluded both the BJP and the INC. In 1998, the BJP formed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with several other parties and became the first non-Congress government to complete a full five-year term. In the 2004 Indian elections, the INC won the largest number of Lok Sabha seats and formed a government with a coalition called the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), supported by various parties. In the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections, it won again with a surprising majority, the INC itself winning more than 200 seats. At the federal level, India is the most populous democracy in the world while many neighboring countries witness frequent coups; Indian democracy has been suspended only once. Nevertheless, Indian politics is often described as chaotic. More than a fifth of parliament members face criminal charges and is not unheard of that most state assembly seats are held by convicted criminals. Corruption in India is common rather corruption and crime are the qualifications for being a politician in India. What is a collation Government?
A coalition government is one in which several political parties must cooperate in order to run a country or region. A coalition government is often times considered a very weak form of government because there is no majority party. In such cases, the only way policy gets approved is by making concessions, hence the forming of a coalition. A coalition government, also known as a coalition cabinet, can be one of the most entertaining, and volatile, forms of government. Often, it may be hard to know how an issue is going to turn out, unlike countries where there are only two major political parties. In these cases, it is rare that a majority party does not have its way. Well-known countries run by coalition governments include Germany, Italy, India, Ireland, and Israel, among others. Once a parliament is seated in these countries, the difficult work of bridging gaps begins. In some cases, these gaps are bridged easier than others, as multiple parties may be in agreement on some issues. In other cases, where there is little agreement, building such a coalition government takes time. Some feel that a coalition government is a very inefficient way to govern. Also, it may, in some cases, increase the risk of underhanded deals and increase corruption, as more politicians are willing to make deals in order to get things accomplished. A coalition government can also have members that are very argumentative, even more so than other forms of government, simply because so much is at stake. However, despite the concerns, some feel that a coalition government has the best opportunity to promote real issues and solve everyday problems. This is because the coalition government is seen by some as the most accurate representation of the people’s will. Also, proponents believe a coalition government can actually lead to greater unity because members of varying backgrounds and ideologies must come together and agree to create policy in the best interest of all. In addition to the regular, long-standing coalitions, a coalition government can also be created at times of national transition or crisis. In Iraq, for example, a coalition government was created in 2004 in an effort to bring the country together after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government. In this example, various leaders from different religious sects and regions of the country were brought together in an attempt to form policy that would be regarded as a benefit to the Iraqi people as a whole, not just one particular group. Arguments for and against coalition government
Advocates of proportional representation suggest that a coalition government leads to more consensus-based politics, in that a government comprising differing parties (often based on different ideologies) would need to concur in regard to governmental policy. Another stated advantage is that a coalition government better reflects the popular opinion of the electorate within a country. Those who disapprove of coalition governments believe that such governments have a tendency to be fractious and prone to disharmony. This is because coalitions would necessarily include different parties with differing beliefs and who, therefore, may not always agree on the correct path for governmental policy. Sometimes the results of an election are such that the coalitions which are mathematically most probable are ideologically infeasible. A second difficulty might be the ability of minor parties to play "kingmaker" and, particularly in close elections, gain far more for their support than their vote would otherwise indicate. Coalition governments have also been criticized of sustaining a consensus on issues when disagreement and the consequent discussion would be more fruitful. To forge a consensus, the leaders of ruling coalition parties can agree to silence their disagreements on an issue to unify the coalition against the opposition. The coalition partners, if they control the parliamentary majority, can collude to make the parliamentary discussion on the issue irrelevant by consistently disregarding the arguments of the opposition and voting against the opposition's proposals — even if there is disagreement within the ruling parties about the issue. Powerful parties can also act in an oligocratic way to form an alliance to stifle the growth of emerging parties. Of course, such an event is rare in coalition governments when compared to two-party systems, which typically exists because of stifling the growth of emerging parties, often through discriminatory ballot access regulations and plurality voting systems, etc. A single, more powerful party can shape the policies of the coalition disproportionately. Smaller or less powerful parties can be intimidated to not openly disagree. In order to maintain the coalition, they will have to vote against the party's platform in the parliament. If they do not, the party has to leave the government and loses executive power. Coalition governments worldwide
Countries which often operate with coalition cabinets include: the Nordic countries, the Benelux countries, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Turkey, Israel, New Zealand, India and Pakistan. Switzerland has been ruled by a coalition of the four strongest parties in parliament from 1959 to 2008, called the "Magic Formula." Coalition Government in India
India has had coalition governments at the Centre as well as in individual states since the last two decades. Since India is a diverse country with different ethnic, linguistic and religious communities, it also has diverse ideologies. Due to this, the benefit that a coalition has is that it leads to more consensus based politics and reflects the popular opinion of the electorate. The UPA-Left arrangement had been formed after parliamentary elections in 2004. Though they have main adversaries in three states, this government was unstable as Left withdrew support on matter of nuclear deal. In order to have stable coalitions, it is necessary that political parties moderate their ideologies and programmes. They should be more open to take others’ point of view as well. They must accommodate each other’s interests and concerns. But this is not what is happening in India. In India, parties do not always agree on the correct path for governmental policy. Different parties have different interests and beliefs and it is difficult to sustain a consensus on issues when disagreements arise. They often fail to see eye to eye with the government on many public policies. However, this is not to say that we have never had successful coalitions. Governments in Kerela and West Bengal and NDA at the Centre have been successful coalitions. Other coalitions should learn from these because it is difficult to operate in an environment full of disagreements. The fact of the matter is that India has had coalition governments in the past and it will continue to have in the future as well. Therefore, it is in best interest for all that parties develop a sense of understanding and do not play games of power politics and bad politics. It is high time that the MPs realize how bad India fares on other economic variables in the world, and it is time they put their energy in improving those than just catering to their selfish interests. If political parties feel that coalitions are too much of a compromise and always lead to unstable governments, then India can think of alternative forms of government the; presidential system can be one but it has its own cons. It is very important for the political parties to moderate their ideas as there are no ready made formulas or easy solutions to make coalitions work in a smooth manner.
Political scenario in India
The way in which the political stalemate in Maharashtra has been resolved and the change of guard in the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party have the potential for bringing about fundamental political changes in the country. With two Marathas occupying the top two political positions in Maharashtra, the stage is set for a struggle, which may be below the surface initially, for supremacy in the state. The Nationalist Congress Party has always considered itself a representative of the Maratha community and has drawn strength from its hold over the sugar and other agricultural cooperatives in the state. The Congress, on the other hand, has had a broader base, seeking to represent different communities and interest groups in the state. A symbol of this was outgoing Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who represented the dalit (low caste) face of the party. The broader appeal of the Congress obviously did not give the party the desired results in the Assembly elections. The party, though contesting a larger number of seats than the NCP, was pushed to the second place. This factor appears to have played a major role in the sudden party decision to replace Shinde by Vilasrao Deshmukh, a former Chief Minister, who was not allowed to complete his full five-year term in the previous Assembly. The fact that the party had to fall back upon him shows that it does not want to be marginalized by the NCP. For retaining the Chief Minister ship despite having a lower number of MLAs, the Congress has had to pay a heavy price to the Nationalist Congress Party. The NCP will not only have 24 Ministers compared to 19 of the Congress, but also prime portfolios including Home Affairs. On major issues, the NCP Ministers will be in a position to vote down the Congress Ministers at cabinet meetings. Vilasrao Deshmukh will have a difficult task ahead, taking care of his party’s interests as well as keeping the coalition running. The Shiv Sena and the BJP would not be averse to fishing in troubled waters to destabilize the NCP-Congress government. This is clear from the Shiv Sena offer earlier to support the NCP to form a government if it was not able to reach an agreement with the Congress on the issue of Chief Minister Ship. The other major development of the week, the complete return of the BJP to its Hindutva (Hindu activism) agenda will have far reaching impact at the national level. New BJP president L.K. Advani has made it clear that the Ram Temple issue will be the most important issue to be pursued by the party come what may. The party is not bothered much about parting company with its partners in the National Democratic Alliance on the issue. Sooner than later, this may lead to a reorganization of political groupings in the country. The Bihar Assembly elections, to be held within in a few months, are expected to speed up the process. The Lok Jan Shakti party of Ram Bilas Paswan has already parted company with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal in the state and is searching for new allies to face the electorate in the coming Assembly elections. Though some haggling is going on between the Lok Jan Shakti Party and the Janata Dal United on the terms for facing the voters together in Bihar, there is a political compulsion for both to reach an agreement. The only thing which appears to be standing in the way at present is Janata Dal (U) president George Fernandes’ close ties with BJP leaders. But the two most important leaders of the JD (U) in Bihar - Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav, appear to be all set to dump the BJP and go in with the Lok Jan Shakti party to fight Lalu Prasad Yadav and his party. The Congress in the emerging scenario may try to play the role of a peace-maker between Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Bilas Paswan, but the chances of success appear to be bleak. Role of Political Parties
As like any other democracy, political parties represent different sections among the Indian society and regions, and their core values play a major role in the politics of India. Both the executive branch and the legislative branch of the government are run by the representatives of the political parties who have been elected through the elections. Through the electoral process, the people of India choose which majority in the lower house; a government can be formed by that party or the coalition. India has a multi-party system, where there are a number of national as well as regional parties. A regional party may gain a majority and rule a particular state. If a party represents more than 4 states then such parties are considered as national parties. In the 61 years since India's independence, India has been ruled by the Indian National Congress (INC) for 48 of those years. The party enjoyed a parliamentary majority barring two brief periods during the 1970s and late 1980s. This rule was interrupted between 1977 to 1980, when the Janata Party coalition won the election owing to public discontent with the controversial state of emergency declared by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The Janata Dal won elections in 1989, but its government managed to hold on to power for only two years. Between 1996 and 1998, there was a period of political flux with the government being formed first by the right-wing nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) followed by a left-leaning United Front coalition. In 1998, the BJP formed the National Democratic Alliance with smaller regional parties, and became the first non-INC and coalition government to complete a full five-year term. The 2004 Indian elections saw the INC winning the largest number of seats to form a government leading the United Progressive Alliance, and supported by left-parties and those opposed to the BJP. On 22 May 2004, Manmohan Singh was appointed the Prime Minister of India following the victory of the INC & the left front in the 2004 Lok Sabha election. The UPA now rules India without the support of the left front. Previously, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had taken office in October 1999 after a general election in which a BJP-led coalition of 13 parties called the National Democratic Alliance emerged with a majority. Formation of coalition governments reflects the transition in Indian politics away from the national parties toward smaller, more narrowly-based regional parties. Some regional parties, especially in South India, are deeply aligned to the ideologies of the region unlike the national parties and thus the relationship between the central government and the state government in various states has not always been free of rancor. Disparity between the ideologies of the political parties ruling the ce...