In most press commentary the presumption is still that Vince Cable would become Chancellor of the Exchequer under a coalition government involving the Lib Dems. It’s not quite clear why that would be the case.
In European coalitions the minority partner (still presuming the Lib Dems would be) is often given the job of foreign minister. Take Germany, where Guido Westerwelle, leader of the Free Democratic Party, is currently foreign minister in the Merkel-led coalition. Previously the role was taken by Green leader Joschka Fischer.
The advantages are clear. A Lib Dem foreign secretary would be far removed from contentious domestic affairs. By contrast, imagine having a Labour or Tory prime minister working alongside a Lib Dem chancellor.
The potential for discord would be enormous; a rerun of the Blair-Brown war of attrition between 10 and 11 Downing St without the residual glue of party loyalty. That would be ever more the case during a period of painful fiscal tightening.
This is not to say that Nick Clegg in the Foreign Office would not be without complications; Europe and Trident are just two potential areas of disagreement. But I’m still surprised that few commentators have yet raised this scenario. It should make Thursday’s TV debate – on foreign affairs – even more interesting.
I should point out that the party still says it would prefer to hold the balance of power to concocting coalitions. Let’s see how long that lasts.