The good people of New Zealand are past masters are power sharing. You can see a version of an enhanced “confidence and supply” here, where the junior partner is offered a few ministerial posts, but there are firebreaks on collective responsibility.
In Westminster there’s rightly been a lot of focus on policy. But the terms of co-operation are often as difficult to negotiate. From the NZ examples, it’s possible to sketch out some of the key elements underpinning a deal. (Warning: this is one for the legal scholars.)
1. A clause on “good faith and no surprises” These politicians trust one another. They really do.
2. Consultation arrangements How close is the co-operation? A simple C&S agreement will include consultation on the “broad budget parameters” and the Queen’s speech. Major policy decisions that don’t require legislation could be thrown in. Junior coalition partners would play an early role in policy development.
3. Meetings and access Some agreements include requirement for regular meetings between leaders. Ministers may be required to see a Lib Dem counterpart on request. Some coalitions are also given access to cabinet papers, briefings. The closer the pact, the greater the access. Makes life difficult for Whitehall.
5. Collective responsibility A full coalition requires full collective responsibility. But there is a middle way. A junior partner may be given ministerial posts and only represent the government position in these areas. On issues outside these areas, an “agree to disagree” provision would apply.
6. More resources The Lib Dems will want more “short money” given their extra responsibilities. They could ask for a special team of civil servants.
7. Running the Commons Will the Lib Dems back procedural motions? Are the Lib Dems given more parliamentary time? Some special committees?
8. Confidentiality An agreement never to leak. Easy enough. That never happens in Westminster.
9. Break clause There is also usually an agreement not to reach other agreements. It could include a clause saying that the termination of the pact would lead to a general election. Could also include some dispute resolution procedures.