Thoughts on the monarchy

While campaigning during the course of a general election campaign in Australia, Prime Minister and Labor Party leader Julia Gillard stated: I obviously am a Republican. I believe that this nation should be a republic. I also believe that this nation has got a deep affection for Queen Elizabeth. What I would like to see, as Prime Minister, is that we work our way through to an agreement on a model for the republic but I think the appropriate time for the nation to move to being a republic is when we see the monarch change. Obviously I’m hoping for Queen Elizabeth that she lives a long and happy life and having watched her mother I think there’s every chance […]

The only good reform is no reform

Opposition to the various political reforms announced earlier this week in the United Kingdom is quite varied. Most of it focuses on the proposal for the referendum on the Alternative Vote to replace First-Past-the-Post, as I discussed in an earlier post. Others are looking at the issue of fixed-term parliaments. I confess that I remain unconvinced that fixed-term parliaments are really necessary in parliamentary systems. The federal government in Canada as well as several provinces have adopted such legislation. In all instances, they’ve fixed the term limit at four years, as I explained in some detail in one of my first posts on this blog. However, while I’m not convinced by the necessity of fixed-term parliaments, I don’t see it […]

Yes Deputy Prime Minister, Part 2

In an earlier post, I looked at the position of Deputy Prime Minister, specifically in Canada and the UK, contrasting the tradtional role of DPM with the very high profile role assigned to Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, in the coalition government. This post simply updates the previous. On 3 June 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron issued a written ministerial statement detailing departmental reorganisation. When the coalition was formed, Clegg was put in charge of political and constitutional reform. The ministerial statement outlines what that means in practice. The Deputy Prime Minister will be responsible for introducing fixed-term Parliaments and legislating for a referendum on changing the voting system; legislating to create fewer and more equal-sized constituencies, […]

Yes Deputy Prime Minister

The position of deputy prime minister in Westminster parliamentary systems varies from one jurisdiction to another. For example, in both Australia and New Zealand, the position has become an official ministerial portfolio, since 1949 in New Zealand and since 1968 in Australia. In Australia, the duties of the Deputy Prime Minister are to act on behalf of the Prime Minister in his or her absence overseas or on leave. The Deputy Prime Minister has always been a member of the Cabinet, and has always held at least one substantive portfolio. It would be possible for a minister to hold only the portfolio of Deputy Prime Minister, but this has never happened. If the Prime Minister were to die, become incapacitated […]

Fixing election terms and political stability

While fixed term elections are commonplace in some countries, such as the United States, one of the vagaries of Westminster systems is that it remains the prerogative of the Crown to dissolve parliament. A parliament may not last more than 5 years from the date it was first elected, but there is nothing that prevents an election from occurring any time before that date. And while it is the Crown’s prerogative to dissolve parliament and force a new election, we all know that in reality, the decision belongs to the Prime Minister. A longstanding criticism of this process is that countless PMs have called elections early, sometimes to take advantage of their party’s surge in the polls, or to exploit […]