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With ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi claiming he pulled out of the government five minister of his party, Italy demonstrates yet another time that its coalition government is fragile. Alan Johnston, BBC News correspondent in Rome, says that “this most awkward and unhappy of coalition governments is finished.”
It may be for the best, as new elections could provide a potentially new Prime Minister with a solid majority to rule the country, instead of a shaky agreement that a single - yet powerful - man can bring to its knees.

As this Italian coalition seems in trouble, we cannot miss the opportunity to compare this situation to ours. The David Cameron ministry will in fact be remembered for the alliance between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats, an union pledged in 2010 as the Conservatives failed to gain a majority. This uncommon situation is the first since the Churchill War Ministry, and involves great cooperation, for the head of the government has to be bicephalous.

Italy demonstrated these last days that such agreement can come to an end. The question now asked to its prime minister, Enrico Letta, is how to manage the following events, if his coalition actually falls apart. No doubt both David Cameron and Nick Clegg ask themselves this very same question: “could I rule alone?”

According to the Conservative Party, this question has a precise answer: David Cameron can be PM without Nick Clegg. Conservative sources told the Telegraph in June 2013 that “governing alone could work”, after they discreetly studied about the not-so-unlikely ousting of Nick Clegg as Liberal Democrat leader. David Cameron’s supports believe that some pieces of legislation could pass even though the Tory would lead a minority government.

The Liberal Democrats seem to ponder the end of the coalition very seriously. In September 2013, Business Secretary Vince Cable told the Independent that “the coalition could come to early end before 2015 general election.” As in the Italian case, Cable notes that this initiative would have “to be led by the leader.” However, he seems to reserve for himself the possibility to leave the government if the Conservatives were to be allowed by his Lib Dem colleagues “to pursue politics that crossed his personal red-lines” - refusing to tell more about these red-lines, following the example of President Barack Obama’s.

Both coalition protagonists seem ready to break the engagement, even if the game seems to work well, but to ask for compromises on both sides, or for exchanges, as illustrated by what appears to be the last give-and-take between the two parties: free meals for children against marriage tax allowance.
But we can’t take neither Tories nor Lib Dems words for granted. It is the interest of the two parties to sound proud, independent and strong in this coalition; hence the speeches about the end of the coalition.
If the Cameron-Clegg tandem were to fall, and elections be organized today, the projections made by major newspapers show that the Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband, would take Parliament with a large majority. One could ask himself it the Tories or the Lib Dem are really willing to put an early end to their couple in this situation, or if strengthening positions in the hope for better days couldn’t be a smarter idea.

Plus the last-man-standing of this duet would find himself in an uncomfortable situation: he’d have to rule without the support of the majority; he’d have to decide when surrounded by enemies; he’d have to demonstrate his strength in a position of terrible weakness.
Conservatives are right to say that some propositions could pass into law, as some interests are shared across parties.

So let us consider this situation: for some reason, Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime minister, resigns. So do the Lib Dem ministers. The coalition explodes, and David Cameron is to rule alone.
New elections are not yet an option for him, as Miliband would probably win at the moment.

Cameron can appoint other Conservative ministers and try to make his way to the 2015 general election. This solution would allow him to put on the agenda Conservative ideas without the obligation to compose with Lib Dems - he would only have to satisfy euro-skeptics from time to time. The problem is that, depending on the cause of Clegg’s resignation, Cameron could be an easy target for all sort of attacks or be seen as the one true leader.

Italy's situation is the situation of every coalition in the world - plus that Italian touch of romanesque, of course. Governments placed in such position have to play a tough chess game, comforting today's allies who will be the enemies of tomorrow. The originality of the Italian situation is that Silvio Berlusconi, despite its successive problems in courts, remains a very powerful man whose will can defeat a fragile government.
The David Cameron ministry seems to be nothing like that. The alliance with the Lib Dems requires to negotiate and to agree. But Nick Clegg is in no way comparable to M.Berlusconi in terms of influence. One can bet that David Cameron could survive without him in office.