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How Unusual is the United Kingdom Coalition (and What are the Chances of It Happening Again)?

Lees, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-3517-2211 (2011). How Unusual is the United Kingdom Coalition (and What are the Chances of It Happening Again)?. Political Quarterly, 82(2), pp. 279-292. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-923x.2011.02192.x


This article draws upon insights from theoretical and empirical studies of coalition behaviour in multiparty politics to examine the formation of the United Kingdom coalition following the general election of 6 May 2010. It argues that the formation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition is not unusual in historical terms or in the context of contemporary European politics; and that although it is a break from the more recent pattern of postwar British politics it nevertheless does conform to expectations in the light of the coalition literature. The article also provides a comparative analysis of the impact of Britain's ‘First-Past-The-Post’ (FPTP) electoral system on party competition and an examination of the performance of the Alternative Vote (AV) system and argues that if the United Kingdom retains FPTP then a return to single-party government in 2015 is highly likely; and it is not inevitable that the introduction of AV would significantly advantage the Liberal Democrats.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the author accepted manuscript of an article published in Political Quarterly. The definitive version is available at
Publisher Keywords: Conservative party, Liberal Democrats, coalition government, electoral systems, Alternative Vote
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs
SWORD Depositor:
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