A “law” of political science–Gamson’s law–states that parties in (post-election) coalitions divide the cabinet posts in proportion to each party’s contribution to the coalition’s legislative basis.
In most cases, these proportions would closely match their proportions of the vote, because most cases where coalitions are formed following elections use proportional-representation electoral systems. But what about the current three-way UK campaign, where we could see a coalition including a party that was badly punished by the electoral system?
In today’s Times:
Senior Lib Dem sources have revealed that if the party secures a high share of the vote in the election, it will demand equal status in any coalition.
Most current projections have Liberal Democrats in second place in votes, with around 26-29%, yet only 90-100 seats (i.e. 15% or so). Thus a revision of Gamson, based on voting shares (if not parity), would be sensible. But could Clegg bargain successfully for it?
A later Times item has Clegg suggesting he might even be PM if the coalition is with Labour. Various other indications in recent days have Clegg tilting ever so slightly towards the Tories in a post-election deal, which is a concession to polling reality–Conservatives inching ahead, Labour lagging, LibDems holding their own.
If the bargain is between Conservative and LibDem, on something like current polling, a “confidence and supply” agreement is probably more likely than a formal coalition. In that case, Clegg’s party has none of the cabinet seats (and maybe no pledge on electoral reform), but some policy influence.
It all remains fluid!