Book Chapter

The Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government: Does Minority Government Make a Difference?



Cairney P (2011) The Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government: Does Minority Government Make a Difference?. In: Cairney P (ed.) The Scottish Political System Since Devolution: From New Politics to the New Scottish Government. Charlottesville, VA, USA: Imprint Academic, pp. 39-58.

First paragraph: This chapter explores the difference that minority government makes when compared to coalition government, focusing primarily on the relationship between the Scottish Parliament and Government. Chapter 1 demonstrates that the Parliament does not have the resources to do much more than perform a traditional parliamentary role, monitoring government departments and scrutinising legislation proposed by the Scottish Government. Chapter 2 identifies the continued importance of political parties and the government-versus-opposition culture inherited from Westminster. This chapter builds on these insights to show that the image of a ‘consensus democracy' (Lijphart, 1999) is often misleading in Scotland. The first eight years of devolution were marked by a form of majoritarian (coalition) government that would not seem out of place in the UK. Labour and the Liberal Democrats formed a governing majority able, through a strong party whip, to command a majority in plenary and all committees. They used that power to pursue a demanding legislative programme, demonstrating that the government produces the vast majority of legislation and that the Parliament struggles to do more than scrutinise policy in these circumstances. The only significant ‘brake' to that process was the negotiation required between the coalition parties within government. However, even then, the production of successive ‘partnership agreements' in 1999 and 2003 gave a good idea of the legislative programmes in each four-year term.

Publication date31/12/2011
PublisherImprint Academic
Place of publicationCharlottesville, VA, USA

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Professor Paul Cairney

Professor Paul Cairney

Professor, Politics