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Institutionalizing a Coalitional System and Games within Coalitions in India (1996–2014)


  • K.K. Kailash

    (K.K. Kailash, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad. E-mail:


Rather than looking at coalition formation as a single-shot game, this article attempts a more dynamic analysis by exploring the interactive processes between different experiments over time. Comparing coalition experiments since 1996, it finds that there is an inbuilt tension in the nature of the coalition formations in India. India’s federalized party system created a distinctive coalition formation pattern in which territory played a significant part. Its coalitions primarily involved the coming together of two types of parties, polity-wide and single-state parties. The organizational logic of the two categories of parties is different and consequently the incentives that drive them vary. While their coming together in a coalition does help fulfil some ‘mutual needs’ there is also an element of competition about issues including how much and whose needs are being fulfilled. While polity-wide parties would prefer to govern alone or have a system in which the role of the coalitionable is negligible, this article argues that the combined effect of both federalization of the party system and an institutionalization of a coalitional system has decreased the possibility of single-party governments in the short run. The article also notes that incongruent majorities in the two houses, the need to get policy passed and the changing composition of the Rajya Sabha during the tenure of the Lok Sabha will encourage the formation of large coalitions and/or surplus coalitions.

Suggested Citation

  • K.K. Kailash, 2014. "Institutionalizing a Coalitional System and Games within Coalitions in India (1996–2014)," Studies in Indian Politics, , vol. 2(2), pages 185-202, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:indpol:v:2:y:2014:i:2:p:185-202

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