This week Britain's Coalition Government marked 100 days in office. Why are we so preoccupied with a time span of 100 days when President Kennedy said that 1000 days was too little to achieve anything? The original Hundred Days was the period between the arrival of Napoleon in Paris after his escape from Elba to his removal after the Battle of Waterloo. The term gained political currency when President Roosevelt got the New Deal off to a good start in his first hundred days in office. As prime minister in the 1960s Harold Wilson promised 100 days of dynamic action, but the reality was more disappointing.
One test of success for the Coalition Government is that it has survived for 100 days without any major rifts appearing. Indeed, there have been fewer tensions between ministers than in many single party governments. There has been grumbling about their lack of influence from MPs the right of the Conservative Party and from Liberal Democrat backbenchers, but it has had little real effect.
The real tests for the Coalition Government are still to come. One will be when the Comprehensive Spending Review is published in October. Some cuts in public spending have already been announced, but then their full extent will hit home. Another will be getting the referendum of the alternative vote through Parliament and then, as far as the Liberal Democrats are concerned, winning it. 100 days is not a real test of five years.