WESTERN EUROPE: The Trouble with Coalitions

In most Western European nations these days, no party commands an absolute majority, and most must rule by coalition. The net effect of coalitions is usually to dull debates, to narrow ambitions and to blunt the cutting edge of bold politics. Rivalries that would otherwise be threshed out in the open, are fought out instead inside Cabinet meetings. Cabinets fall unexpectedly and new ones must be formed. Examples of these processes at work last week:

Finland. A coalition of five non-Communist parties—the 19th government since World War II—was forced out by internal bickering...

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