After the elections in the Netherlands on 12 September 2012 a coalition government needs to be found. According to the opinion polls this will be very difficult. No majority is possible with less than three parties. The biggest problem is the polarisation; the biggest parties will not agree to be in a coalition together. With the remaining parties it is hard to reach a majority.
Since March 2012 the parliament has given itself more freedom in forming a coalition. Within a week after the elections parliament will convene and decide how to proceed to form a government. Previously, this initiative was in the hands of the monarch. We can expect parliament to appoint someone to investigate the willingness of parties to form a coalition together. This formation is likely to take weeks if not months.
My proposal is to let parliament vote on a motion to appointment a government consisting of extra-political ministers coming from the citizenry if there is no coalition within a month. This will at least put extra pressure on the formation process. There now is a deadline, it can no longer last endlessly.
Secondly, journalists can start finding good candidates. All likely candidates can answer the question, ‘would you be a good minister?’ Usually during the formation there is no news to report. With this option open every candidate found can become news. These candidates can then explain how they would deal with parliament. Which compromises and middle ground solutions will receive a majority?
Typically, good candidates are not political figures. The required skill is to find support for a measure from a diverse, even divided, constituency. This is the position leaders of an economic sector find themselves in: education, health care, retail, production and so on. Their constituencies are often not unanimous about proposed solutions or positions. It is their skill to find the band-with they can operate in. Also managers in multinational organisations need this skill to satisfy both shareholders, employees and the legislators of the countries they produce or sell in. They often take great pleasure and pride in pragmatically advancing concrete measures within the constraints given to them. Unlike politicians who are elected for their convictions and their skill to argue that those are the best.
This post is also available in: Dutch