A parliament of winners

The UK media is normally much better at writing about hung parliaments and government formation than is its Canadian counterpart. That being said, there are exceptions, such as this recent op ed piece by David Blair in the Telegraph, On May 8, a loser could enter No 10. Consider the following excerpts: The polls show that no party is on course for an outright majority: that much is clear. But they also suggest that the relationship between votes cast and seats won – always a pretty tenuous link – could be on the verge of breaking down. If so, this may be an election where the losers are rewarded with power and the winners consigned to opposition. (…) With Labour’s […]

Why Canadians should pay close attention to the UK election campaign

There will be a general election here in Canada in 2015, most likely in the fall. There is incessant speculation that the election may occur sooner than that, but as per our not-so-fixed election date, we will go to the polls in October. Before Canadians vote, there will be a general election in the UK, on May 7. And Canadians should be paying very close attention to the campaign and vote. Here are a few reasons why. 1. There will be debates. Probably. While leaders’ debates are old hat in Canada, the 2010 UK general election saw the first ever televised leaders’ debates. This time around, there are three debates scheduled. The first two (April 1 and 16) will feature […]

Rethinking hung parliament outcomes

With a little less than five months to go until the next UK general election in May 2015, the general consensus amongst pundits and pollsters is that there will be another hung parliament. UK Parliamentary Election Forecast has been releasing daily seat projections based on polling trends. The most recent forecasts have predicted either a tie between the Conservatives and Labour, or else one of the two major parties marginally ahead by a handful of seats or less. In every instance, however, each party is well short of the 326 seats needed for a (one-seat) single party majority government. This reality has prompted a number of news articles and opinion pieces speculating on the problem of government formation following the […]

The situation of Parliament during a prolonged period of political crisis

I have previously written about the convention of caretaker government here, and here. That convention holds that during an election campaign, the ministry continues to hold office until a new ministry is sworn in. There are, however, limitations on what a minister can do during both the election campaign and the period of government formation following a general election. For Canadians (as well as people in the UK, Australia and other countries), there normally isn’t much of a delay in forming a new government following a general election. Usually, it is known on election night which party will form the government. This isn’t always the case, however. In 2010, in the UK, it took five days of intense negotiations between […]

Keyword Post: Answers to Questions on Election Outcomes

Following the recent election in the Canadian province of Ontario, I can see that there are a lot of people searching for very basic information about how our system of government works. While I have detailed posts answering most of these questions on this blog, I will provide shorter, basic answers to some of the most common questions to which people want answers. 1. What happens in a minority government / what does a minority government mean / how does a minority government happen? A minority government simply means that the party or parties forming the government do not have a majority of the seats in the legislature. In the case of Ontario, there are 107 seats in the provincial […]

Understanding government formation

There is some confusion in Canada (and elsewhere) as to how government formation occurs following a general election, particularly when an election results in a hung parliament. This post will attempt to provide a basic overview of the process. First, there are a couple of key concepts to understand and keep in mind. 1. In Westminster parliamentary systems, voters do not elect governments You may frequently read media reports saying that recent polls show that a minority or majority government will be elected. This is false. Canadians, including at the provincial level, do not elect governments, we elect a parliament. The vote you cast is for your local MP or provincial representative only. You are not casting a vote for […]