Tag Archives: coalition

Coalition Politics in Ukraine

Over the past two years, Ukraine has rarely been absent from the world’s headlines. Today, yet again, the country finds itself in the midst of a political crisis, the worst since 2014. After a failed no-confidence vote to remove the Prime Minister, the governing coalition collapsed in mid-February. Ukraine has 30 days to form a new coalition and 60 to form a new government or face an election.

On 16 February 2016, the Parliament of Ukraine held a no-confidence vote to remove its Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The vote failed when only 194 MPs supported the motion, far short of the required 226. Even though the Prime Minister survived the no-confidence vote, the ruling coalition collapsed just days after. Batkivshchyna, the party of Yulia Tymoshenko, officially left the coalition the day after the vote. It was followed by Self-Reliance, the second party in two days to exit the ruling majority. Both parties took with them 45 MPs, officially depriving the coalition of its majority.

The President and the political parties are currently in the middle of the coalition negotiations in efforts to form a new majority. The current Prime Minister seems to have agreed to step down once the new coalition is formed. But his party, the People’s Front, will keep a number of important cabinet positions, including the interior and justice ministries. In addition, the party also demanded that the new coalition agreement include adoption of lustration law.

After weeks of speculations, Volodymyr Groysman, the current Speaker of the Parliament, seems to be at the top of the candidate list to replace Yatsenyuk. Although, Natalia Jeresko, the current Finance Minister, has also been discussed as a potential candidate. But Bloc Petro Poroshenko and the People’s Front party alone cannot form a majority coalition. Thus, it is the potential third coalition partner, who can make or break the new agreement. It has been announced that Batkivshchyna agreed to join the new coalition. However, the latest reports suggest that the deal is far from done. Although Batkivshchyna is the smallest party in parliament, it is still likely to use its bargaining position to press for more demands.

As we know, presidents have an entire toolbox at their disposal when it comes to forming new coalitions.[1] It is easier and cheaper to negotiate with parties as opposed to individual MPs. However, two former coalition partners, Self-Reliance and Radical Party, refused to participate in the negotiation. But the current parliament also includes 47 non-affiliated deputies, who could potentially end up in the middle of the negotiations.

The latest political infighting not only threatens much needed flow of foreign aid, including the disbursement of $1.7 billion loan from the IMF, but also can derail Ukraine’s prospects for European integration. The timing for a political crisis is never good but it is especially bad at the moment, when the Netherland is preparing to hold a referendum on Ukraine-EU Association agreement. The Netherlands is the only EU country yet to ratify the agreement. If a Dutch voter was hesitant before, she is likely to be even more cautious now after witnessing the recent political crisis in the country. Ukraine should be careful not to repeat the events of Yushchenko’s presidency, when the coalition infightings had disastrous political and economic consequences for the country.

[1] Chaisty, Paul, Nic Cheeseman, and Timothy J. Power. 2014. “Rethinking the ‘presidentialism debate’: conceptualizing coalition politics in cross-regional perspective,” Democratization 21 (1): 72-94.

Turkey – Coalition Talks Start As Political Uncertainty Continues

The June 7 general elections ended the ruling AKP’s 13 years of single party rule and created a difficult situation in the parliament. As before, there are four parties in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA), but the composition has changed dramatically (the AKP now has 258 seats, CHP 139, MHP 80, and HDP 80 of the total 550 seats). Even though the ruling AKP lost its majority, it remains the largest party and still has the capacity to rule in any future coalition. According to the Constitution any government has to attain the support of the absolute majority of the votes cast in order to survive the investiture vote. Without the AKP joining the coalition all  three remaining parties would have to come together to form a majority coalition.

It became evident shortly after the election that the three remaining parties – the social democratic CHP, the nationalist MHP, and pro-Kurdish leftist HDP – would not be able to form a coalition together, as the nationalist MHP’s leader Bahçeli declared that they would not support any coalition in which the pro-Kurdish HDP participated. That declaration meant that the AKP has to be the formateur of any future coalition.

The nationalist MHP maintained the same position during the election of the speaker of the TGNA, declaring that they would not vote for a candidate that HDP members supported. Arithmetically speaking, this meant supporting the AKP’s candidate, İsmet Yılmaz, since the Constitution requires a simple majority at the fourth and final round of voting. Here, the two candidates with the most votes at the third round stand against each other. In the end İsmet Yılmaz was elected at the fourth round when MHP members voted blank instead of supporting the CHP candidate, Deniz Baykal.

For many, this was an indication of a future coalition between the AKP and MHP. Such a coalition might be right one for President Erdoğan as he says his wish is “that a new government will be formed in line with the sensitivities of conditions for Turkey today.” The sensitive condition that he is referring to might be the Syrian crisis on which the AKP has very similar views to the MHP, especially with respect to establishing a safe zone on the Syrian board.

Such a right-wing conservative partnership would also be the easiest for electors of both parties to accept. Beşir Atalay, one of closest comrades of President Erdoğan, confirmed that the AKP’s supporters also want a coalition with the MHP.

However, the biggest problem facing an AKP coalition with MHP or indeed with any of the  three remaining parties is President Erdoğan. All the opposition parties demanded that the President should act impartially towards all parties and that he should not involve himself in daily politics in accordance with the Constitution. In response, the leader of the AKP, Prime Minister Davutoğlu, ruled out any negotiations regarding the role of the presidency.
Furthermore, opposition parties promised their electors that the corruption and graft claims regarding President Erdoğan, his son, Bilal Erdoğan, and three former AKP ministers among others that were revealed on December 17 and 25, 2013, would be taken to court. This does not seem likely. President Erdoğan responded to such demands by saying, “Today Turkey needs a coalition government that asserts its will for the solution of current problems and for building the future, instead of debating its past”, indicating that coalition talks would fail if past political debates including corruption allegations were brought up again.

There are 45 days to form a coalition. If there is no coalition at the end of that time or no chance of one being formed, President Erdoğan can call a snap election. The first day of the 45 days started on 9 July, 2015.

President Erdoğan commissioned the leader of the AKP, Davutoğlu, to form a coalition on that day. Davutoğlu will resume talks with CHP, MHP and HDP respectively on 13, 14 and 15 of July. Even though Davutoğlu has scheduled meetings with all three parties, he says their focus will be on either the CHP or MHP.

As for President Erdoğan’s future political position, there is no indication that he will resume a passive role. He is currently supervising the coalition formation process, and has warned all parties that a minority government should not be an option and that they have to either successfully form a coalition in time or face a snap election.

Cote d’Ivoire – President Ouattara and coalition backing in 2015 presidential poll

Will the coalition that brought Alassane Ouattara to victory in the presidential run-off in December 2010 hold as a pre-electoral alliance fielding a single candidate for the October 2015 presidential election? With the political geography and party constellation of Cote d’Ivoire dominated by three major parties, no single party can secure a candidate an outright majority. To be reelected, President Ouattara must enlist the support of a critical mass of the 2010 winning coalition, the Rally of the Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP), so-called after former President Félix Houphouët-Boigny who ruled Cote d’Ivoire from independence to his death in 1993.

On February 28th, Ouattara won the support of his most important ally, the Democratic Party of Cote d’Ivoire – African Democratic Rally (PDCI-RDA), in his bid for re-election. In an extraordinary PDCI-RDA party congress, an overwhelming majority of participants voted in favor of supporting Ouattara as the single RHDP candidate for the upcoming presidential race. The PDCI-RDA is the party of former President Henri Konan Bédié who came in third in the first round of the 2010 presidential poll. The PDCI-RDA is a member of the RHDP together with Ouattara’s Rally of the Republicans (RDR) and two smaller parties, the Union for Democracy and Peace in Cote d’Ivoire (UDPCI) and the Movement of the Forces for the Future (MFA).

The UDPCI already declared its support for Ouattara at its party congress in December 2013, while the MFA is still holding out on backing Ouattara as the sole RHDP candidate for the fall election.  MFA chairman Anaky Kobena recently announced the question will come up for a vote at a party congress in April. Kobena has complained of the MFA being excluded from cabinet and other government positions, contrary to the other members of the RHDP-alliance: a PDCI member has served as prime minister since March 2012, while UDPCI chairman Mabri Toikeusse is Minister of Planning and Development since June 2011.

The single candidate issue has created divisions within some RHDP-member parties. Within the PDCI-RDA, a group of party leaders, including former Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Essy Amara, former deputy speaker of parliament Jérôme Kablan Brou and member of parliament Bertin Kouadio Konan – nicknamed the “Club of Four” – oppose Bédié’s backing of Ouattara. The four boycotted the recent party congress and have declared their intent to present a joint platform. In the MFA the issue has been the opposite – a break-away faction in opposition to Kobena has since 2013 declared its support for Ouattara’s candidacy and threatens to divide the party in two. The UDPCI and the RDR are the only two parties within the alliance where the single candidature is non controversial.

The leading opposition party, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) of former President Laurent Gbagbo is also suffering from internal factionalism. While FPI chairman Affi N’Guessan wants to run, other FPI leaders insist on the freeing of Gbagbo currently on trial at The Hague as a precondition for the FPI participating in the October election.

The RDR, the PDCI-RDA and the FPI are the three major parties in Cote d’Ivoire, aligned with the country’s three political heavyweights – Ouattara, Bédié and Gbagbo, respectively. In the 2010 presidential poll, Gbagbo won 38% of votes in the first round, followed by 32% for Ouattara and 25% for Bédié. With Bédié’s backing, Ouattara went on to win the run-off with 54% against Gbagbo’s 46%. In 2015, with the support of Bédié and the UDPCI, and with the FPI divided, Ouattara seemingly stands a good chance of reelection, even if the PDCI-RDA and the MFA should split. However, should the FPI decide to boycott and Affi not run, it remains to be seen which candidate(s) would gain the support of FPI voters.

Latvia – General election results confirm ruling coalition’s mandate

On 5 October 2014, Latvia held parliamentary elections whose results will allow the ruling centre-right coalition to stay in office. Following the snap elections of 2011, the elections now followed a shortened legislative term of three years (while the legislative term generally lasts four years, the constitution prescribes regular general elections in four-year intervals) and brought two new parties into parliament.

Party % of votes Seats Change
“Harmony” Socialdemocratic Party (“Saskaņa” sociāldemokrātiskā partija) 23.13% 24 -7
Unity (“VIENOTĪBA”) 21.76% 23 +3
Union of Greens and Farmers (Zaļo un Zemnieku savienība) 19.62% 21 +8
National Alliance (Nacionālā apvienība “Visu Latvijai!”-“Tēvzemei un Brīvībai/LNNK”) 16.57% 17 +3
For Latvia from the heart! (No sirds Latvijai) 6.88% 7 new
Latvian Association of Regions (Latvijas Reģionu Apvienība) 6.55% 8 new
Others 4.83% 0
Total 100.00% 100

As in 2010 and 2011, the election winner was the socialdemocratic “Harmony Centre” party, yet as it is strongly linked to the Russian-speaking population and only left-of-centre party, it is unlikely to be included in the government. Compared to 2011, Harmony however lost 7 of its seats in the 100-seat assembly and the runner-up “Unity” of Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma only won one seat less. Unity gained three seats, however, it ran a common list together the “Reform Party” founded by former president Zatlers (both parties still gained a combined seat count of 42 in the 2011 the last elections). Unity’s coalition partners – the “National Alliance” and the “Union of Greens and Farmers” – both increased their seat share as well, so that the coalition now controls 61 seats. The Union of Greens and Farmers had only been included in the government since January 2014 following pressure from president Andris Berzins. While it would be difficult to link Berzins interference with the Union’ political success, its new status as second-largest coalition partner will most likely secure his re-election next year.

The elections also brought two new parties in to parliament. The “Latvian Association of Regions” – created through a merger of two smaller parties – and “For Latvia from the Heart” (a genuinely new party under the leader ship of former state auditor Inguna Sudraba) both gained representation. While the former party – whose candidate for Prime Minister recently suggested to introduce popular presidential elections – still has chances to enter the government, “For Latvia from the Heart”s chances are rather slim. Throughout the campaign the party tried to maintain a neutral stance towards the Harmony Centre and indirectly campaigned for the votes of the Russian-speaking minority.

It is still unclear whether president Berzins will nominate Straujuma for Prime Minister again. Her nomination in January was widely interpreted as a way to put a more uncontroversial figure at the helm of the coalition after the centre-right coalition’s approval ratings had been in constant decline (see also here). Although she was Unity’s official candidate for Prime Minister, she lacks a strong support base in the party. Outgoing EU commission Andris Piebalgs (Unity) appears to have better chances for the job. He had already been a preferred candidate of the president in January 2014 and might – given that Latvia will take over the EU presidency in January 2015 – be the better person for the job.

More information on the website of the Latvian Electoral Commission (in Latvian and English):

Indonesia – Preliminary Results of the April 2014 Legislative Elections

Indonesians went to the polls April 9, 2014, to vote in one of the largest elections in the world: 560 seats of the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR), 128 seats for the People’s Representatives Council (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah, DPD), 2112 seats in provincial elections, and 16,895 district elections. Only 12 parties – of which one is new, Nasdem – were sanctioned by the General Election Commission (KPU) to contest the national elections, with an additional three eligible to contest provincial elections in Aceh. The one new party, NasDem (National Democrat Party) was founded by media mogul Surya Paloh, a former Golkar Party member.

There is intense interest in the results of the legislative elections, given the election law that only parties who receive 25 percent of the national vote or 20 percent of the parliamentary seats will be able to field a presidential candidate for the July elections. The Constitutional Court ruled in January 2014 that the next elections in 2019 must be concurrent for both legislature and presidency but deferred to the new legislative body to specify what thresholds, if any, should apply.

Preliminary quick-count results for the legislative elections reveal that no parties achieved the level of popular support needed to run independently for the presidential election in July. Official results are expected to be announced May 9, 2014.

The results show the PDI-P, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, leading in the polls with 19 percent of the popular vote. The PDI-P has not led in the polls since 1999, but the showing is less than the 27 percent popular vote that many had expected from the widely popular Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo and the “Jokowi” factor. This means that the PDI-P will have to form a coalition with partners to run for presidential elections in July.

The results also report better-than-expected performance across the Islamic parties, contradicting expectations of significant setbacks to religion-based parties. Indeed, even the PKS (Prosperous Justice Party), which had been caught in a sex-and-corruption scandal, lost only about 1 percent of popular support from the previous election.

The preliminary quick-count outcomes are tabulated below, alongside results from the previous 2009 legislative elections. A chart of the current composition of the parties in the legislature follows.

Party, leader or presidential nominee 2014 election quick count results 2009 legislative election results
PDI-P (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, chair former President Megawai Sukarnoputri, presidential nominee Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo) 19 14.03
Golkar (leading party of the Suharto era, chair Aburizal Bakrie) 14.9 14.45
Gerindra (Party Movement Indonesia Raya, chair Prof. Dr. Ir. Suhardi, founder Prabowo Subianto in 2009) 12 4.46
Democratic Party (PD, chair President Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) 10 20.85
PKB (National Awakening Party, chair HA Muhaimin Iskandar) * 9 4.94
PAN (National Mandate Party, chair M. Hatta Rajasa) * 7.7 6.01
PKS (Prosperous Justice Party, chair Muhammad Anis Matta) * 7 7.88
Nasdem Party (National Democrat Party, chair media mogul Surya Paloh, former Golkar Party member. Only party to meet qualifications of General Elections Commission to join elections) 6.6
PPP (United Development Party, chair Dr. H. Suryadharma Ali) * 6.3 5.32
Hanura (People’s Conscience party formed in 2006 by chair former presidential candidate H. Wiranto, running mate Hary Tanoesoedibjo, media mogul) 3.2 3.77
PBB (Crescent Star Party, chair Dr. H. MS. Kaban) * 1.4
PKPI (Indonesian Justice and Unity party, Partai Keadilan dan Persatuan Indonesia, splinter party from Golkar) 1
* Denotes Islamic party

Governing coalition, 2009-2014, 426/560 total seats in the House of Representatives

Democratic Party: 148 seats

PKB (National Awakening Party): 28

PPP (United Development Party: 38

PAN (National Mandate Party): 46

PKS (Prosperous Justice Party): 57

Golkar Party: 109



PDI-P (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle): 94 seats

Hanura: 17

Gerindra: 26