Political coalition – What is it, definition and concept

In other words, a political coalition is a pact between two or more parties with the aim of forming a government to administer a country or geographical area.

A political coalition is executed when a party, by itself, is not capable of gaining control of the institutions after an election. Thus, the lack of popular support to reach the government alone, forces the most voted parties to seek alliances that allow them to obtain the necessary majority.

Since these parties have to establish a deep relationship with each other, they tend to be ideologically similar. If it is already very difficult for two similar parties to understand each other, due to small substantial differences, it would be even more difficult if the parties were ideologically distant.

Although, depending on the political tradition of the country, the coalition can be carried out by the largest parties of the center left and center right. And why can this happen if they are opposed programmatically? Because what unites them can be deeper than what separates them. For example, the model of the State, the prevailing Constitution or the political system. Instead, they may disagree on these points with parties from their own ideological bloc.

Differences between political, electoral and government coalition

It is necessary to point out the differences between these three terms, since they can mislead between them due to their similarity. Electoral coalition is one carried out by two or more parties before the elections, that is, they present themselves to them already united, in order to unite all their voters in a single force and that the vote is not dispersed, thus passing all of them the electoral barrier.

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On the other hand, a government coalition, better known as a coalition government, is the one that takes place after the elections in order to govern a certain administration. This, since the party with the most votes in the coalition does not have the strength on its own to govern alone. When we speak of a political coalition, it is usually done in this sense.

Finally, it can be said that political coalition is a general concept, and the other two terms (electoral and government) are two of its types. But, to refer to the union of parties before the elections, the term electoral coalition is usually used to a greater extent.

Va por México, made up of the PAN, the PRI and the PRD, would be an example of an electoral coalition. In contrast, the Spanish government of PSOE and Podemos is an example of a coalition government.

How is a political coalition formed?

A political coalition goes through a series of stages, and we are going to describe them briefly:

  1. Elections: The electoral celebration is always the basis on which the coalition is founded. This, since the need for its existence will come from the results obtained.
  2. Lack of support: If a party does not reach an absolute majority, or support without notable demands from the rest of the parties, contacts begin to establish the agreement.
  3. Contact: In this phase, the party with the most votes, or the one that believes that it can be invested, begins to sound out its possible allies. These may be from the same ideological bloc or, if the party belongs to the center, it may be the other major opposition party.
  4. Negotiation: The parties carry out the political negotiation, in order to maximize profits and reduce losses. This, always within what they can negotiate due to the electoral weight of each one of them. The concessions to the small (party) will be great if their support is indispensable.
  5. Agreements: The negotiations lead to the final agreements, that is, to the coalition agreement. It is about the formal materialization of the agreement. The parties undertake to execute their compliance.
  6. Implementation: It is about carrying out what is reflected in the agreements.
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It is necessary to highlight, although they are not phases as such, the existence of tensions, power struggles, betrayals, non-compliance with the agreements and an eventual final rupture of the coalition.

Due to the nature of political parties, and their constant search for vote maximization, all of the above can occur throughout the coalition.

Although the coalition flows throughout the legislature, in the months before another new election, the parties immersed in the alliance will usually destabilize it in order to get an increase in their votes.

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