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By Philippe Legrain 1 COMMENT

Writing in the FT, Chris Huhne demolishes the Tories’ scaremongering about the perils of a hung parliament:

It is demonstrably wrong to argue that sound economics requires single-party government…

Of the 14 countries that enjoy the top AAA rating for creditworthiness with all three rating agencies – Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard and Poor’s – 10 have coalitions or minority governments including Germany, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands. None of those 10 has ever had to call in the IMF.

Only four of the top credit countries have one party controlling a majority in their legislature, namely France, Britain, Singapore and the US. Of all 14, only Britain has ever had to call in the IMF…

Anybody who tried to explain to a German that coalition government was bound to lead to a “national calamity” would find the conversation surreal, since the country with one of the strongest reputations for sound public finance has never had a formal single-party government since the dawn of the Federal Republic.

The only major country to lose its AAA credit rating in recent years was Japan, which had single-party rule for more than 50 years. The country with the biggest credit problems in the markets is Greece, which has always had alternating single-party governments.

Nor are multi-party democracies bad at solving problems. An analysis by the House of Commons library showed that seven of the biggest 10 fiscal consolidations in any developed country since 1970 were undertaken by coalition governments, not “decisive single party government”.

Faced with real crises, such as war, Britain’s history shows that we turn to coalitions. Perhaps the Tories need to be reminded that we won both the world wars with cross-party government.


Posted 24 Apr 2010 in Blog

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