Coalition government

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A coalition government is a cabinet of a parliamentary government in which several parties cooperate. The usual reason given for this arrangement is that no party on its own can achieve a majority in the parliament. A coalition government might also be created in a time of national difficulty or crisis, for example during wartime, to give a government the high degree of perceived political legitimacy it desires whilst also playing a role in diminishing internal political strife. In such times, parties have formed all-party coalitions (national unity governments, grand coalitions). If a coalition collapses, a confidence vote is held or a motion of no confidence is taken.

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In practice

To deal with a situation in which no clear majorities appear through general elections, parties either form coalition cabinets, supported by a parliamentary majority, or minority cabinets which may consist of one or more parties. Cabinets based on a coalition with majority in a parliament, ideally, are more stable and long-lived than minority cabinets. While the former are prone to internal struggles, they have less reason to fear votes of non-confidence. Majority governments based on a single party are typically even more stable, as long as their majority can be maintained.

Coalition cabinets are common in countries in which a parliament is proportionally representative, with several organized political parties represented. It usually does not appear in countries in which the cabinet is chosen by the executive rather than by a lower house, such as in the United States (however, coalition cabinets are common in Brazil). In semi-presidential systems such as France, where the president formally appoints a prime minister but the government itself must still maintain the confidence of parliament, coalition governments occur quite regularly.

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