• hung parliament;
  • coalition government;
  • civil service;
  • multi-party governance;
  • Westminster;
  • Whitehall

Coalition government is an unfamiliar experience for Whitehall and Westminster. All actors are still adapting to the rules of this new political game. A number of governance challenges confront the United Kingdom's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. It must strike a balance between the visions of two distinct parties and blend these into a coherent strategy for government. Like any government, it will expect to resolve most differences internally and then to show a united face to the world. Effective consultation and dispute-resolution processes within the executive will therefore be at a premium. But the separate political identities of the two parties also need to be preserved, and sufficient resources must be provided to each side within the government to enable this to happen. This article assesses the response of the coalition to these challenges in its first six months and draws lessons from relevant international experience.