Why a Three-Party Government is So Complicated?

   Apr 15, 2024     2 min read

Last week, a new government was formed by the same parties that have been working together since the elections of 2017. The Prime Minister left the government, leaving the parties without a chairperson. Therefore, a new chairperson for the ministerial meetings needed to be found, which required new negotiation talks among the parties.

Various stories circulate about these negotiations, such as that the leaders of the Progressive and Independence parties had discussions with the leader of the Reform Party before the Prime Minister formally announced her consideration of a presidential bid. There was also an attempt to hold parliamentary elections on May 11, but President Guðni firmly denied this, threatening to appoint a caretaker or non-parliamentary government until autumn if such an attempt was made.

This is all part of the negotiation process. Exploring all possibilities to find out what can possibly be done. The classic negotiation technique is to make extreme demands and then gradually concede until a resolution is reached. This negotiating technique works very well in competitions among different parties, where each party wants to achieve as many of their demands as possible and in the end, everyone is dissatisfied with the outcome. The more parties involved in the negotiations, the more difficult the negotiations are.

Allies do not offer each other impossible options, only competitors do. That is precisely the situation of the government. They are competitors, not allies, despite having a cooperation agreement. The result is that competitiveness infects the parliament where it is impossible to know whether there is consensus among the government parties on individual government issues. This results in endlessly long periods spent working on issues that are then never approved. It is a waste of time by a government too preoccupied with internal disputes to set a clear policy.

Negotiations do not have to be conducted this way; it is a choice. It is a choice to enter into cooperation where every single decision is fought over. Where all issues are taken hostage for negotiating purposes, no matter how positive they would be for the country and the people. If I get this issue through parliament, then I will let one of your issues through. In a three-party cooperation, such coercive negotiating tactics are very difficult, as it involves two opponents, not just one. This is why these parties say that multi-party cooperation is so complicated, because of the method of cooperation they use.

It is possible, if there is a will, to approach one’s partners with respect for their values and start the negotiations on that basis. Instead of demanding that partners betray their convictions, work should be done with the common convictions of the people. This is how we achieve genuine cooperation.