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Stormont is stagnating without an Opposition

Alex Kane (Comment, August 4) is probably correct that the SDLP and UUP will only restore their electoral fortunes by quitting the Executive and co-operating in forming an Opposition in the Assembly.

Notwithstanding the fortunes of those two parties, democracy would be in a much healthier state if an active Opposition held the Executive to account.

For a while during the previous Assembly, Alliance showed some initiative in attempting constructive opposition, but this was thrown aside when their leader joined the Executive and saved the blushes of the DUP/Sinn Fein leadership over the unnecessary transfer of justice powers as a devolved function of government.

A major defect of mandatory coalition is that it tempts most parties to campaign for election on the basis that they will be included in government, regardless of electoral performance.

Parties therefore tend to promise actions and policy changes across the board, including areas of ministerial responsibility which they have no intention of assuming.

While promising to advance their policies in all areas of government parties can, nevertheless, disavow any responsibility for previous errors in ministries which were controlled by one of the other parties.

We are stagnating under mandatory coalition. Let this be the last Assembly which perpetuates this undemocratic practice.


Lisburn, Co Antrim