LET’S be friends – coalition politics, writes Rachael Bicknell.
The talking may be over but as millions of votes are cast today the jury remains out on whether we’re going to see another coalition government.
David Cameron and Ed Miliband remain neck in neck in the polls, while the power of the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Ukip, and Northern Ireland’s SDLP is more pronounced than ever.
In 2010, commentators suggested a coalition could never work in the UK, yet it did. In 2015, Labour has already ruled out doing a deal with the SNP, while the SNP is saying “no” to the Conservatives. However, it seems clear that the days of bipartisan political support for Labour and the Conservatives are long gone, and if we’re faced with another hung parliament, the chances are that a new deal can, and will, be struck.
Why? The reality of coalition government is one of collaboration and pragmatism, where politicians explore common ground and identify creative solutions to satisfy the reality of the election results.
The genesis of the last coalition was forged through negotiation, and while it might not seem obvious at first, the skilful management of competing interests has played a major role in helping politicians dissect manifesto promises to find a workable solution to deliver a stable government.
While out on the election campaign every party looked to persuade voters they could go it alone, every party leader is well aware that after the dust settles tomorrow the winning party or parties will be putting the “positional” campaigning to one side and looking to work collaboratively to best serve the interests of the UK electorate.
If we’re looking to another hung parliament then negotiation and conflict management techniques will play a major part in securing a coalition government and avoiding a re-election.
• Rachael Bicknell is an associate in dispute resolution at HBJ Gateley