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In this Policy Ideas briefing paper we explore the steps necessary after an election, especially if there is an uncertain election outcome, or hung parliament. By looking at case studies from 3 mature constitutional democracies – United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Sweden – we argue that there is need for clear policies concerning the scope of a caretaker government, negotiations over government formation, and the role of the Rulers and Council of Rulers in the democratic process.

IDEAS recommends that:
1. The boundaries and limitations of the post-election government have to be made clear. The power should be limited to decisions of national security and the continued execution of already approved policies. In addition, no new policy decisions should be made, nor should any announcements of new projects launched.
2. Clearly defined practises needs to be put in place in order to prevent stalemate in the case of an un¬certain election result. These guidelines should include who has the prerogative to start the negotiation and which body should oversee the negotiation to ensure due process.
3. Finally, the roles of the Rulers and Council of Rulers have to be defined. The Rulers have an important role to play as a guarantor of due process and as a unifier of the people. However, the role of the Rulers should not include an arbitration role during the coalition negotiations, or indeed afterwards. This will safeguard the institution from accusations of being partisan.

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