Friday, June 18, 2010

Coalition wobbles?

Perhaps there's trouble in paradise? A liberal and conservative party starting up a marriage of convenience and yet under the strain of a tough economic climate they've started to bicker and stopped talking to each other over breakfast.

One partner wants a laissez faire partnership where the market is free to screw who it likes, the other wants a more traditional arrangement where frugality and responsibility with the public purse is the order of the day. On the face of it they agree in cuts and budget constraints but the tensions beneath the surface start to break out with a harsh word here and an off message briefing there.

The ink is hardly dry on the German coalition government's agreements and already there have been huffy resignations, bad news at the polls and talk of early elections to sort this mess out once and for all.

The German economy may still be one of the most robust in the EU, but it is no longer in a position to simply bail out other economies or fulfill its traditional duties of Europe's banker. This is causing international tensions as well as internal ones with France's Sarkozy making pointed remarks about Merkel's government.

The left has smelt blood and is pushing the coalition to take the plunge and call a new general election. It's certainly not an option either partner would take willingly as it would be seen as a major defeat, but if the working relationship between the parties and, crucially, within them has broken down to such an extent that they can no longer run a viable government then there may well be no choice.

It couldn't happen here though. The Lib Dems and Tories have found a very comfortable working relationship with each other and have, possibly to their own surprise, found each other more than natural allies in government, particularly when the Lib Dems are such accommodating partners. No early election for us I reckon.

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