Tuesday's Maharashtra curtain raiser diverted the attention from the opportunistic coming together of ideological adversaries, Shiv Sena and NCP-Congress to the machinations of BJP. However, as Devendra Fadnavis stepped up to be the BJP's fall guy for an unsuccessful and rather forced attempt at government formation, the discourse has shifted back to the stability and tenability of a government resulting in a marriage between not just political rivals, but those who rest on the opposite ends of ideological spectrum.
If the recent history of such alliances is anything to go by, the prospects aren't extremely promising. From BJP-PDP's failed attempt to rule Jammu and Kashmir together, to the United Kingdom's Liberal Democratic Party's poll rout after they betrayed voters and supported Tories (whom they fought tooth and nail), the prospects of ideological enemies enjoying a stable friendship is rare. Here are a few more example of how such alliances fared in the past.
BJP-PDP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir
Hailed at the time as the coming together of Jammu and Kashmir region, the BJP and PDP's political alliance was markedly poor and faced several roadblocks before finally disintegrating in June 2018. The alliance took as many as three months to shape up, and was again renegotiated after the demise of PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, when his daughter Mehbooba took over the reins of the party.
The tenure was marked by prolonged spells of curfew and civil unrest following the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani. The government also struggled after the brutal rape and murder of a eight-year-old child in Kathua, which deepened the Hindu-Muslim and Jammu-Kashmir divide.
The two parties were widely criticised for coming together when PDP was seen as a soft-separatist force — as it propagated self-rule for Jammu and Kashmir "sharing sovereignty", without commitment to political merging with India — while one of BJP's founding principles was complete integration of the state and abrogation of its special status — which it did after the coalition government fell. They had fundamentally opposite ideas on the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Liberal Democrats and Tories (UK)
In 2010, when Britain's election results threw up a hung Parliament, with the Conservatives having the most seats but 20 short of a majority. The Liberal Democrats found themselves in a rare position of being a kingmaker, even though they had not won the polls. It was the first coalition government in the UK since the World War II.
However, the voters who did support the Centrist Lib Dems hoping for a change felt cheated when after a campaign of populist ideas like the notorious pledge to abolish university tuition fees, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg abandoned his core electorate: by choosing to enter a coalition with the Tories.
At a time when Britain was facing the danger of national bankruptcy, the Tories (or the Conservatives) entered the fray saying they will deliver a robust economy, with better taxation, austerity and a robust "plan for economic recovery and growth", Lib Dems main call to action was based on promises like "four steps to a fairer Britain", a promise to provide cheaper (or free) college education and fair taxation.
The biggest compromise on Lib Dem's part was to give up their demand for electoral reform, or of any wider constitutional reform. This had for years seemed to be the Liberal Democrats’ main raison d’être and had long been expected to be the party’s chief and undroppable goal in any coalition agreement, according to Financial Times.
The result, after five years, was an economy which ground to a halt and almost experienced a double dip recession; "pointlessly cruel" policies like Benefit Sanctions; the slowest recovery since the South Sea Bubble; the national debt doubling, and ultimately a rout for Lib Dems in next elections.
Centre-Left Democratic party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (Italy)
When the populist Left Democratic party failed to win the election on its own, at a time when Italy is grappling with a huge debt mountain, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and a sworn political enemy of the forner, agreed to lend support to prevent a re-election and to keep Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right League out of power.
The Five Star joined an ill-fated coalition with Salvini's League 18 months ago, but anti-migrant Salvini hoped for new elections that would make him premier when he tried to bring down the government last month, Al Jazeera reported.
After this Five Star sought an online vote from its over 1,00000 activists on whether or not to ally with Democrats. The party, neither right nor left wing, was rather created as an alternative to "establishment" parties. Dignity, hope, transparency were the watchwords in their campaign but once in government the movement was confronted with the reality of power and had to change its political line on a raft of subjects, which disconcerted its own voters, South China Morning Post reported. For years M5S had a highly Eurosceptic position, which went as far as calling for a consultative referendum on keeping the single currency. Now, it is part of a coalition that Brussels prefers the most.
Other policies include 'drastic' cuts to corporate taxes, slashing red tape, and guaranteeing a minimum monthly income of up to €780 (£695) for the poor; all of which now seems difficult given Italy's debt problem.
On the other hand, Democratic Party is staunchly pro-European and positions itself towards the centre-left. While Five Star's solution to immigration is signing bilateral treaties with parent countries to facilitate repatriation, Democrats have said they will push to change EU rules that oblige countries where migrants land to process their applications to stay. The party also wants to withhold EU funding from member states that refuse to take in migrants. Separately, it plans to pursue its stalled plan to create an earlier path to citizenship for children of foreign parents born and schooled in Italy.
Left-Greens, Independence Party, and Progressive Party (Iceland)
The Centre-Left Left-Green Movement and Centre-Right Independence party, the biggest groups in Iceland, and the centrist Progressives are running a coalition government in the Nordic country after a fractured mandate in elections held amid a financial crisis. The two biggest parties that have historically considered each other as their main opponent when it comes to policy making.
The Left-Greens, the second largest party functions on the principles of socialism, feminism, and environmentalism, as well as increased democracy and direct involvement of the people in the administration of the country.
One of Iceland’s oldest political parties, the Independence Party is the largest party in the coalition. It runs on a platform of liberal conservatism, economic liberalism and Euroscepticism. Electorally, it often benefits from being a united force encompassing the entire right-wing ground, unlike the much more fragmented Icelandic left, according to Iceland Monitor.
The Progressive Party was founded back in 1916 to represent Iceland’s agricultural class and agrarianism is still part of the party’s ideology today. The party often takes a centrist libertarian line and has formed coalitions with left and right over the years. This is one the reasons people expect the Iceland coalition, formed in 2017 to function a full five-year term.
Furthermore, the fact that the parties relented the prime minister's post to the Left shows that all parties are willing to compromise. Also, Iceland's economy has now cooled of and is in a stable position. So the partners are only required to maintain the flux and carry out welfare as opposed to getting into any path breaking reforms. Yet, the parties suffer a huge pressure since the last two government coalitions have broken up.
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Updated Date: Nov 27, 2019 17:56:09 IST