What is a Coalition?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Coalitions are organized groups of people who have come together for the purpose of accomplishing a goal that is common to all parties involved. Due to the fluid nature of coalitions, it is possible for individuals, businesses, and other types of organizations to participate within a coalition, while still maintaining their own separate identity. Here are some facts about the coalition, how alliances of this type are formed, and what being part of a coalition means to an individual or group.

Providing food or shelter for homeless is people is one example of a coalition an organization may undertake.
Providing food or shelter for homeless is people is one example of a coalition an organization may undertake.

A coalition or alliance may be formed to address matters of common concern to some sector of the community. A local, state or national coalition may focus on improvements within the community, such assisting homeless persons in finding work, or providing transportation for senior citizens. Politics may also be grounds for the formation of a coalition, as individuals, human rights organizations and other entities combine their efforts to help bring about the passing of new legislation that they believe will make the community a better place to live. In most instances, a coalition will disband once the goal that drew everyone together has been attained. In other situations, the coalition may evolve into a permanent structure in its own right, establishing a new association that continues the work begun by the coalition.

A coalition may try to provide transportation support for senior citizens.
A coalition may try to provide transportation support for senior citizens.

While a coalition is essentially an alliance of like-minded persons and organizations, it is important to remember that not everyone will operate with the same motivation when it comes to achieving the common goal. For instance, one participant may be a part of the coalition out of desire to bring about a change that will improve conditions for loved ones. Another participant may be thinking in terms of getting valuable publicity from the connection with the coalition. A third ally may be thinking in terms of what the realization of the goal will mean in the way of increased social prominence within a given clique. The reasons behind the joining of factions from a variety of backgrounds can vary, and may often be somewhat selfish in nature.

The coalition is a great way for allies from many different backgrounds to come together and work toward the realization of a common cause. Once the goal is met, the parties may choose to maintain some communication as a result of the rapport established during their work together. This keeps the door open for the formation of another coalition at some future date, in the event another matter of common interest should arise.

An education coalition may partner children with the elderly for mutual beneficial programs.
An education coalition may partner children with the elderly for mutual beneficial programs.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@SkyWhisperer - I believe that political coalitions are created for convenience, and ultimately their authenticity can be questioned on a number of fronts.

Take the Christian Coalition, for example, founded in the late 1980’s by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson. While its stated goal is voter education, there is no doubt that the group has a right leaning bias.

As a result it had a scuffle with the IRS which denied it a tax-exempt status for awhile, until the group agreed to sanitize its so-called voter education guides so as not to express any particular preference for one candidate over another.

These guides were distributed in churches too, which made the group’s claims to neutrality to be somewhat suspect. They now have their tax-exempt status back as a result of agreeing to IRS regulations, but I think the group still walks a fine when claiming neutrality.


@SkyWhisperer - I disagree. I believe that many of the member nations, especially England and Australia, wholeheartedly participated in the invasion of Iraq, because they believed that the terrorist threat posed by chemical and potentially nuclear weapons was a real one.

We should not forget too that the United States still bore the brunt of the responsibility in terms of numbers of troops deployed and assets on the ground.

What you call cajoling I call leadership, and I think we acted responsibly by assuming most of the burden.


@Charred - Political coalitions can be good, but that does not always mean that they represent deeply held convictions among member parties.

For example, the Iraq coalition that was assembled as part of America’s invasion of Iraq is often held up as proof that we had international cooperation.

I personally don’t believe, however, that many of these member nations would have chosen the war on their own. The United Nations certainly had some reservations about going into Iraq, and for that they received a rebuke from the United States.

Building an aggressive case for doing something, and then cajoling your partners to tag along, ever so reluctantly, is not my idea of building a coalition. It’s not consensus, in the truest sense of the term.


I think in an age where we sometimes see an increase in political rancor and divisiveness, coalitions can be useful organizations for people who may not agree eye to eye on every issue, but can at least focus on some shared, important concerns.

One of the most noted yet loosely knit groups in this regard is the blue dog coalition of Democrats in Congress. They banded together in the late 1990’s after a Republican sweep of Congress, mainly because the blue dogs shared a common belief with the Republicans in fiscal responsibility.

They don’t agree on all the social issues, but tend to come together in the conviction that unrestrained government spending is not good for America.

I believe we need more of these kinds of coalitions, which will put party affiliation and partisanship aside and focus on the big issues besetting the American people.

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