As the coalition heads into its endgame, the two parties of government face challenges in governing together while positioning themselves for the next election. As the smaller partner, the Liberal Democrats face a particularly tough situation. The party must emphasise its distinct values and achievements, while defending the overall coalition record, most of which has been Conservative-led.

Since 2010, the Institute for Government has studied the challenges of making coalition government work at each point of its life cycle. We now turn to the question of how the Government will work in its final 18 months. In this short paper – prepared for distribution at the Liberal Democrat Conference 2013 – we draw on international experience of how coalitions end and how smaller parties fare. International experience shows that coalition can indeed be tough on smaller parties, who often see a drop in vote share at subsequent elections. But there are also examples of junior coalition partners who have profited from coalition in terms of both policies achieved and increased vote share. Here we explore how six small parties have coped in coalition with larger parties.

Watch our prezi outlining five international lessons on coalition government for the Liberal Democrats before 2015