Forming governments in Westminster parliamentary systems

“The verdict of public opinion was pretty clear. Losers don’t get to form coalitions. Winners are the ones who form governments. The coalition in Britain — it is important to point out it was formed by the party that won the election.” – Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, 3 June 2010 The formation of a government following a general election in a Westminster parliamentary system (in particular, one using First-Past-the-Post) follows certain conventions. It is important to understand that voters in countries such as the UK and Canada do not vote to elect a government, much less a prime minister. They each vote in their individual constituencies or ridings to elect a Member of Parliament (MP), who will represent them […]

The Primacy of Parliament

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker.You said earlier that for the sake of accuracy you had managed to obtain a copy of the Queen’s Speech. You need not have done any such thing, as you might just as well have bought a copy of The Sunday Telegraph. Will you confirm that this is the first time that a draft of the Queen’s Speech has ever been leaked to a national newspaper? Will you personally conduct an investigation to find out whether it was leaked from No. 10 Downing street and whether any money changed hands in connection with it? You rightly used to excoriate Labour Ministers if ever we made announcements before making them to […]

My government will…

The new Parliament in the UK opened today with Her Majesty’s Most Gracious Speech, also known as the Gracious Address or, less formally, as the Queen’s Speech. This is a parliamentary procedure common to all Commonwealth countries which still have the Queen as head of state, however it carries different names in different jurisdictions. For example, in Canada and its provinces, the speech is called the Speech from the Throne, or Throne Speech, and is usually read by the Governor General at the federal level and by the Lieutenant-Governor in the provinces. In Australia, it is simply called the “Opening Speech”, but is read by the Governor General (or Governor at the state level). In both the UK and Canada […]