An end to mandatory coalition?

Alex Kane responds to Jim Allister`s letter in the News Letter on Saturday, which itself was a response to Kane`s challenge for Allister to outline a realistic and achievable alternative to mandatory coalition.

Jim Allister states:

I and TUV do not accept that we must continue to be the only part of the democratic world where by law you can neither vote a party out of government nor have an Opposition. This perversion of the basic tenets of democracy is so monstrous that no self-respecting democrat should lie down under it. TUV would not.

It is by a sufficient number of MLAs refusing to operate mandatory coalition that it will be starved of its legitimacy and all those who claim opposition to mandatory coalition will be tested. Then, we will see the durability of mandatory coalition. I believe it will flounder and the inevitable outcome will be fresh negotiations within which a sizeable section of Unionism will not be rolling over. Once mandatory coalition is made inoperative then alternatives will kick in, because the present Stormont parties’ reliance on sustaining an Assembly is such that even those who presently declare otherwise will then accept the logic of voluntary coalition.

Voluntary coalition does not ban Sinn Fein from government. Rather, it puts it on exactly the same footing as every other party that the only route into government is through the persuasion of sufficient other parties to agree a programme with them. TUV will never enter government with Sinn Fein, but if they can persuade others then we will be in Opposition, because we are democrats. If Sinn Fein are only democrats so long as they are in government, then they are not democrats at all. And we are being blackmailed as well as conned……………..

……..When the present unworkable edifice inevitably collapses it need not mean a reversion to Direct Rule, not that Direct Rule under a likely Conservative Government should worry the likes of Alex who is an enthusiastic supporter of the UUP Conservative alliance. Negotiations will follow, mandatory coalition under a Sinn Fein First Minister will be out of the question and thus the ultimate choice will be acceptable and democratic devolution or no Stormont. In these circumstances voluntary coalition will emerge as a viable alternative, more attainable now because of the demonstrable failure of the mandatory variety. All that stands in its way is the vested interest of the present Stormont parties and the resignation of some, Alex included, that special pleading or provision is required for Sinn Fein. It is this which the infusion of sufficient TUV MLAs will challenge and end.

IT Technical Manager for a CCTV company in the UK & Ireland. Christian, Orangeman, Unionist. Webmaster of Ulster-Scots Online. Occasional blogger on Slugger O’ Toole. Eurosceptic. @Kilsally