What is The Minority Government?

Recently, the term “minority government” has often been used in various professional and political frameworks in Armenia. Below we will try to understand what it is, based on examples of some countries.

The minority government presupposes that in the multi-party parliamentary system, the party which forms the government, is not an absolute majority in the parliament. At the same time, parties or one most influential party promise to support a minority government party through voting in the parliament under certain conditions.

According to professional assessments, the disadvantage of this system is that the government may often get a vote of no confidence. A possible solution to this situation is the formation of a coalition government.

It is believed that a minority government can lead to political instability and inefficient management, such as in Germany of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) and in the Fourth Republic of France (1946-1958). In the aforementioned cases, a few governments have changed in a short period of time, which ultimately led to the government’s legitimacy crisis.

However, the examples of Germany and France are not the only ones. Other countries also have minority governments, which, unlike the two countries, show quite the opposite. For example, the experience of the Scandinavian countries, especially Denmark’s minority government, is a relatively successful example that allows us to assume that the possible consequences of such a system depend on the political culture of the society.

In recent years, a minority government has been formed in a number of countries around the world, including Ireland, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Great Britain and so on.


On February 26, 2016, Ireland held nationwide elections, as a result of which the conservative “Finike Gel” of Prime Minister Enda Kenny lost the majority, barely keeping the victory. At the same time, the main rival of the latter was the Republican ”Fianna File”, the largest opposition force, which doubled its presence in the parliament.

After the election E. Kenny did not get the necessary votes to be re-elected as prime minister, thus becoming the acting Prime Minister. On April 29, 2016, the two parties reached a political agreement to form a minority government under the leadership of ”Finike Gel”. On May 6, 2016, Enda Kenny was re-elected in the post of prime minister of Ireland, thus leading the minority government.


As a result of the parliamentary elections of October 4, 2015, Portuguese People’s Party got the majority led by the Prime Minister Pedro Passucci Coelho. The president of the country, Anibal Kavaci Silva, instructed him to form a government again. However, the other three parties in the parliament managed to form a coalition. The left-wing majority in the parliament voiced a vote of no confidence in Pedro Passucci Coelho and his government. On November 23, 2015, the Portuguese President instructed the Socialist Party leader Antonio Costa to form a minority government. On November 24, Košta was appointed as prime minister.


In June 2015, the ”Venstrene” Liberal-Conservative Party in Denmark formed a minority government that had only 34 out of 179 mandates in parliament after the June 18, 2015 elections. According to the results of the 2015 elections, the Conservative bloc received a total of 90 mandates, which was enough to be the majority in the parliament and exceeded the left-wing coalition with 85 seats. Four parties – Venstrene (34 seats), Conservative People’s Party (6 seats), Liberal Alliance (13 seats) and National-Conservative Danish People’s Party (37 seats) entered the right-center bloc. Disagreements about the future government’s policy among the parties in the Conservative bloc led to the failure of an agreement to form a coalition government with other conservative parties. As a result, the minority government operated until November 2016.


The Opposition led by the Social Democratic Party won the parliamentary elections on September 14, 2014, which together with the Green and Left parties got 43.8% of the votes. On October 2, the Swedish parliament approved the candidacy of the Red Coalition candidate, President of the Social Democratic Party Stefan Lewen, as the head of government. On October 2, 2014, Lewen introduced the minority bipartisan government. In December 2014, the Swedish minority government succeeded in agreeing with the opposition parties in the right-center conservative bloc to work on the principles of cooperation in parliament, avoiding snap parliamentary elections.


In January 2006, the Conservative Party won the parliamentary elections with 122 seats out of 308, Liberals received 103 seats, Quebec’s separatist bloc, 50 seats, New Democratic Party, 31 seats. As a result, conservative Steven Harper formed a minority government. In 2008, Steven Harper re-formed a minority government.

Great Britain

During the history of Great Britain, a minority government has been formed several times. Since the First World War in England, the minority government has been in power several times, in 1924, 1929-1931, 1974 and 1976-1979 (in all cases the government was in the hands of the Labor Party).