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German election explained: why is it always so hard to form a government?

By Alim Baluch, Lecturer in German Politics and Society, University of Bath
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It is quite unusual for the two largest parties in a given country to form a coalition. In the UK, it took the second world war to bring such a grand coalition about.

Grand coalitions promise extreme stability, given that they provide an overwhelming majority. In parliament, it is easy to ignore the fringe voices within the governing parties, as their votes are not needed to pass legislation.

But it is not a good look for a democracy if the government is held to account by a pathetically small opposition. And yet the grand coalition of centre left and centre right has become…


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