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Opponents of a move from the FPTP system for General elections point to the stability of governments since 1945 and contrast this with the prevalence of coalition government in Continental Europe under various PR systems. Italy is often used as the example of frequent changes of government, while Germany is used as an example of where a small party (the Free Democrats) have wielded disproportionate influence by choosing which other party it should join to form a coalition government. Nonetheless, Germany has had stable government, with the CDU/CSU/FDP coalition in power for 16 years between 1982 and 1998, and the SPD and Greens for seven years thereafter. Whilst it took time to form a government following the 2005 elections this was because the two major parties received very similar shares of the vote and a number of possible coalitions were considered before the 'Grand Coalition', including the two main parties, was formed. Italy, despite frequent changes to government before it switched to AMS in 1994, was ruled mainly by Christian Democrat- led coalitions and by the Socialists for a period in the 1980s. So there can be continuity through coalition government. More detail on the experiences of Germany and Italy can be found in Chapter 7.

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