To what extent has the Coalition changed the relationship between Government and Parliament?

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Callum Keene
To what extent has the coalition changed
the relationship between government and
Since the 2010 general election we've had a coalition government, formed from the
Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. This causes a number of changes in the
relationship between the Parliament ­ the legislative body, and government ­ the
Firstly, and perhaps most prominently, the government is far more vulnerable in
contentious House votes (divisions) ­ Parliament can defeat the government a lot
easier. This is because of the fact that a significant portion of the governing majority
in the Commons is only bound to the other by the terms laid out in the coalition
agreement. They are two different parties, with different ideologies and beliefs. If
there is a vote on an issue which divides the two governing parties ideologically, it is
far more likely for MPs from both parties (who might disagree with their own party's
view, not to mention disagreeing with the other side of the coalition) to rebel, and
vote against the government.
In a similar vein, the government has less control over MPs in the Commons, as there
are two sets of Whips for both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. As stated
above, if both parties disagree ideologically on an issue, there is a change the Whips
will be more lenient, allowing their MPs to follow their original party ideals more so
that if it was one governing party with a strong majority, for example in the last
Labour administration.
Because of the coalition, and the possible difference of opinion between parties, the
role of select committees has changed (and subsequently the weight of their rulings).
Committees usually consist of roughly the same proportion of MPs from each party as
in the overall House of Commons. Naturally, because the governing parties' MPs on
these committees are effectively divided, there is a greater change (similarly to in the
Commons, but especially because it is one individual's opinion against another) that
the two sides will disagree. Because of this, if a committee comes to a unanimous
verdict, it will carry even more weight than it might do if there is a majority ruling
when there is only one part in power/

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Callum Keene
The mere formation of a coalition, and the subsequent agreement signed, naturally
means that both parties are forced to compromise on some of their policies and
beliefs in order to reach an agreement. Because of these compromises, and each set of
leaders having to take a slightly more moderate stance in order to appease the other
side, backbenchers from both parties could become dissatisfied with the party.…read more


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