Government formation

Government formation

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Government formation is the process in a parliamentary system of selecting a prime minister and cabinet members. If no party controls a majority of seats, it can also involve deciding which parties will be part of a coalition government. It usually occurs after an election, but can also occur after a vote of no confidence in an existing government.[1]

The equivalent phenomenon in presidential republics is a presidential transition.

Delays or failures in forming a government

A failure to form a government is a type of cabinet crisis where a coalition controlling a majority of seats cannot be agreed upon.[1]

The process of government formation can sometimes be lengthy. For example, following the 2013 German federal election, Germany engaged in 85 days of government formation negotiations, the longest in the nation's post-war history. The outcome was the third Merkel cabinet, another grand coalition led by Angela Merkel.[2]

If the formation of a government leads to a change of administration, the ministers remain in their posts until a new government is appointed.[3]


Belgian governments are typically coalition governments due to the split between the Flemish and French parts of the country.[4][5] On occasion, this has led to a situation where no party is able to form a government but the Parliament does not vote to return to the polls. This occurred most notably in 2010–11, when Belgium operated without a government for 541 days. Though there were calls for drastic measures to resolve the issue, including via a partition of Belgium,[6] government services were not disrupted due to the implementation of a caretaker government and the devolution of most key functions.[7]

See also


  1. "Formation of Government". ACE Electoral Knowledge Network. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  2. Steffen Ganghof & Christian Stecker, "Investiture Rules in Germany: Stacking the Deck Against Minority Governments" in Parliaments and Government Formation: Unpacking Investiture Rules (eds. Bjørn Erik Rasch, Shane Martin & José Antonio Cheibub: Ocford University Press, 2015), pp. 76-77.
  3. "Government formation | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC)". 2023-04-19. Retrieved 2023-09-20.
  4. "Belgium country profile". BBC. 21 May 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  5. Morris, Chris (29 September 2014). "Belgium's complex web of democracy". BBC. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  6. "Unity at stake in Belgium vote". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  7. Smith, Raymond A. (9 October 2013). "How Belgium Survived 20 Months Without a Government". Washington Monthly. Retrieved 22 January 2019.

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