Australia is in political limbo, as many people question how our government will function as a minority. To address the concerns, Crikey takes a look at other hung parliaments around the world — and the only previous federal one in Australia — to see exactly how everyone else coped or is coping with a hung government. While some have struggled in a political stalemate, others are proving that it’s a successful way to govern.

What is Australia’s hung parliament history?

At a federal level, there has only been one hung parliament in Australia’s history: the 1940 government formed by Robert Menzies with the help of two independents, Arthur Coles and Alex Wilson. For a time Menzies’ government was effective as it sought to lead Australia through World War II. However, Menzies eventually lost the support of the two independents, who sided with John Curtin of the rival Labor party to form government in 1941.

What’s happening  in the Netherlands?

Recently the Netherlands were forced to have an election after the breakdown of the the coalition between the Labor Party and the Christian Democratic Appeal.  The following election on June 9 resulted in a hung parliament where no major party won a majority.

What will it do now?

The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) leads narrowly with 31 seats, but that is not nearly enough to form government in the Parliament of 150 seats. Since the June 9 election the Netherlands have remained without a government as the VVD and the conservative CDA party, who jointly have 52 seats, attempt to lock in the support of the Freedom Party, whose 24 seats would be enough to give them the 76-seat majority required.

The Freedom Party refuses to agree with the VVD and CDA coalition on key policy issues, in particular immigration, which has led to the deadlock. Where Australia differs is that the two parties are trying to achieve the support of three key independents, not one minority party.

Didn’t a similar thing happen in Belgium?

As with Netherlands, Belgium is relying on the parties agreeing to form a coalition government. The major ideological split between parties is what is preventing such efforts, as they refuse to acquiesce to the demands of others.

Three separate parties in Belgium have become so hostile towards one another that the leader of the nationalist N-VA party sent his driver to spy on a press conference being held by the socialist leader Elio Di Rupo. Rupo himself has called for the Flemish Christian Democrat Party (CD and V) and the N-VA to “come to their senses” to prevent Belgium falling into “financial chaos”. Di Rupo is further hampered by a refusal of the other parties to engage in talks, with their only communication coming through the press.

How are the Brits coping with their hung parliament?

The British Parliament, which has 650 seats and requires 326 for an overall majority, was recently hung after the May elections.  The Conservative Party, led by David Cameron, made a deal to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, which gave them enough seats to form government.

So far the coalition has worked well, much like the Australia’s National/Liberal coalition has done.  However, a key agreement of the Brit coalition’s formation — electoral reform — has started to split Conservatives  from their earlier promise to back the plan by Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats.

The Conservatives are angered that Clegg effectively lied to Cameron about a rival deal that was on offer from the Labour Party, in order to gain more promises should they form a coalition. Despite this, Britain’s government has so far maintained an ability to pass bills in parliament and for now seems to be moving along smoothly.

What happens when no resolution can be found?

The Iraqi election on March 7 left the country without a clear winner and since then the Parliament has been in a deadlock.  Although there was hope that an agreement could be reached by September, there has been little progress.

Four separate parties each hold large portions of Iraq’s Parliament, which has ultimately led to the current stalemate. Britain was able to form a government with just a two-part coalition. The same can be said for the Netherlands, who only require two parties to come to agreement. However, Iraq is unique in that should two parties form a coalition, they still would not have an overall majority and would require the support of a third.

In Australia, we should know either today or tomorrow which party the independents will support.