The paradox of government formation

Sir, – The debate about when we will get a new government needs some context.

In 2015, research by the University of Vienna looked at how long it took to form 297 governments in 27 European countries. It varied from 90 days in the Netherlands to two days in France.

Before 2016, the average in Ireland was 20 days. The Europe average was 28 days, but this ignores major differences between east and west and between majority and coalition government formation.

Just looking at coalition government formations, the average time it took in western Europe was 40 days.


This average would give us a new government just after St Patrick’s Day.

Counterintuitively, the research found little evidence that involving more parties delayed things and ideologically opposed parties did not take longer than aligned groups.

We all enjoy a good paradox. We have little appetite for another election, yet we don’t want a new government at any cost.

The undeniable truth is that we must allow all sides the time and space to form a stable government.

That’s what modern European democracies do. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.