History of Fine Gael - National Coalition

After a break of sixteen years, Fine Gael returned to power in 1973, at the head of a National Coalition government with Labour, under Cosgrave's leadership, on the basis of a pre-election agreement between the two parties and active encouragement of each party's supporters to record preferences for the other party's candidates. That government has generally been regarded as a well-meaning government containing much political talent, but was hit by frequent problems. Some of these were outside its control (for example the 1970s oil crisis and escalating violence in Northern Ireland), while others were its own direct creation notably the public criticism on President Cearbhall Ó Dalaigh, by Minister for Defence, Patrick Donegan, in which the latter referred to the President as a "thundering disgrace". (Some witnesses to the speech recall the Minister as having employed a more forceful and colloquial adjective than "thundering.") President Ó Dálaigh's subsequent resignation in 1976, in response to Cosgrave's refusal to discipline his unruly subordinate, severely damaged the National Coalition's reputation.

Cosgrave, like his father before him, showed a fierce determination to defend the institutions of state and would not compromise with extremists, instead working towards reconciliation. The National Coalition is noted for its attempts to build a power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland through the Sunningdale Agreement. The Sunningdale Agreement collapsed after a loyalist general strike. However, it left a legacy of compromise that would lead to later Agreements aimed at bringing peace to the troubled region. The government's record in the area of civil liberties is more mixed, with allegations that an official blind eye was turned to the abuse in custody of republican suspects by a so-called "Heavy Gang" within the Garda Síochána, or police force. It was the Coalition's failure to address the economic problems of the day, however, with inflation, unemployment and national indebtedness all running at record levels, that led to its ultimate repudiation by the voters. In 1977 the Fine Gael/Labour government suffered a heavy defeat, with Fianna Fáil winning an unprecedented 20-seat majority in the 148-seat Dáil, a landslide under proportional representation.

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National Coalition

The National Coalition (Spanish: Concertación Nacional, CN) is a conservative political party in El Salvador. Until 2011 it was known as the Party of National Conciliation (Spanish: Partido de Conciliación Nacional, PCN). It was the most powerful political party in the country during the 1960s and 1970s, and was closely associated with the Salvadoran military. Julio Adalberto Rivera Carballo, a candidate of the National Conciliation Party, was elected president in 1962, and the next two presidents were also from the party. After the 1979 revolution the party declined in influence but continued to exist.

Today, it is considered relatively minor as compared with the two major organizations, ARENA and the FMLN.

At the legislative elections, held on 16 March 2003, the party won 13.0% of the popular vote and 16 out of 84 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Its candidate in the presidential election of 21 March 2004, José Rafael Machuca Zelaya, won 2.7%. In the 12 March 2006 legislative election, the party won 11.0% of the popular vote and 10 out of 84 seats, a major decline in representation, but the party is still the third largest political party in El Salvador. At the January 18, 2009 legislative elections the party won 11 seats.

With no party holding a majority, it can be seen as holding the balance of power. However, it usually sides with the conservative ARENA party.

While the party was technically to be disbanded after the 2004 election, in which its candidate did not gather the necessary 3% of the vote, it was allowed to hold onto its registration by decree; this decree was declared unconstitutional on 30 April 2011, and the party was thus disbanded.

The party was de facto re-established, registering with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal as the National Coalition in September 2011.

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