In Confidence, New Zealand Leads the Way; ANALYSIS

Daily Mail (London), May 9, 2007 | Go to article overview

In Confidence, New Zealand Leads the Way; ANALYSIS


Byline: SIMON JOHNSON

ALEX SALMOND may have to look to the other side of the world for inspiration on how to rule Scotland. The SNP leader has admitted it is likely he will have to form a minority government, the most stable example of which is 13,000 miles away.

Like Mr Salmond, New Zealand Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Helen Clark has a majority of just one over her closest opponents.

But to secure a majority, she has a coalition agreement with one party and confidence-and-supply support from two others.

The latter deal means the two parties agree to back Mrs Clark on an issue-by-issue basis and also in any confidence vote which, if lost, could lead to new elections.

Using this system, she has ruled a stable minority government for eight years and won three successive terms.

After last week's Holyrood election, the closest in UK political history, the SNP emerged with 47 seats - one more than Labour, but 18 short of an outright majority.

The Liberal Democrats have so far refused to help form a coalition with the Nationalists but could be offered a confidence-and-supply deal instead.

The parallels with the New Zealand parliament are striking.

In September 2005, Mrs Clark's Labour Party won 50 seats, one more than the main opposition National Party but 11 short of a majority.

In the aftermath, she said: 'You are looking at Labour working with a small range of parties to get something that is sustainable, durable and can keep New Zealand growing.

'I've run a stable minority government for the last six years and I hope to form one again. …

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