Confidence and supply

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In a parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster system, confidence and supply are required for a minority government to retain power in the lower house.

Parliamentary system form of government

A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic governance of a state where the executive derives its democratic legitimacy from its ability to command the confidence of the legislature, typically a parliament, and is also held accountable to that parliament. In a parliamentary system, the head of state is usually a person distinct from the head of government. This is in contrast to a presidential system, where the head of state often is also the head of government and, most importantly, the executive does not derive its democratic legitimacy from the legislature.

Westminster system democratic parliamentary system of government

The Westminster system is a parliamentary system of government developed in England, now a constituent country within the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the British Parliament. The system is a series of procedures for operating a legislature. It is used, or was once used, in the national and subnational legislatures of most former British Empire colonies upon gaining responsible government, beginning with the first of the Canadian provinces in 1848 and the six Australian colonies between 1855 and 1890. However, some former colonies have since adopted either the presidential system or a hybrid system as their form of government.

A minority government, or minority cabinet or minority parliament, is a cabinet formed in a parliamentary system when a political party or coalition of parties does not have a majority of overall seats in the parliament. It is sworn into office, with or without the formal support of other parties, to enable a government to be formed. Under such a government, legislation can only be passed with the support of enough other members of the legislature to provide a majority, encouraging multi-partisanship. In bicameral parliaments, the term relates to the situation in chamber whose confidence is considered most crucial to the continuance in office of the government.

Contents

A confidence-and-supply agreement is one whereby a party or independent members of parliament will support the government in motions of confidence and appropriation or budget (supply) votes, by either voting in favour or abstaining. However, parties and independent members normally retain the right to otherwise vote in favour of their own policies or on conscience on legislative bills. [1] [2] [3]

A motion of no-confidence, alternatively vote of no confidence, or confidence motion, is a statement or vote about whether a person in a position of responsibility is no longer deemed fit to hold that position, perhaps because they are inadequate in some respect, are failing to carry out obligations, or are making decisions that other members feel detrimental. As a parliamentary motion, it demonstrates to the head of state that the elected parliament no longer has confidence in the appointed government. In some countries, if a no confidence motion is passed against an individual minister they have to resign along with the entire council of ministers.

An appropriation bill, also known as supply bill or spending bill, is a proposed law that authorizes the expenditure of government funds. It is a bill that sets money aside for specific spending. In most democracies, approval of the legislature is necessary for the government to spend money.

A conscience vote or free vote is a type of vote in a legislative body where legislators are allowed to vote according to their own personal conscience rather than according to an official line set down by their political party. In a parliamentary system, especially within the Westminster system, it can also be used to indicate crossbench members of a hung parliament where confidence and supply is provided to allow formation of a minority government but the right to vote on conscience is retained. Free votes are found in Canadian and some British legislative bodies; conscience votes are used in Australian and New Zealand legislative bodies.

A coalition government is a more formal arrangement than a confidence-and-supply agreement, in that members from junior parties (i.e. parties other than the largest) gain positions in the cabinet, ministerial roles and may be expected to hold the government whip on passing legislation.

A coalition government in a parliamentary system is a government in which multiple political parties cooperate, reducing the dominance of any one party within that "coalition". The usual reason for this arrangement is that no party on its own can achieve a majority in the parliament. A coalition government might also be created in a time of national difficulty or crisis to give a government the high degree of perceived political legitimacy or collective identity it desires while also playing a role in diminishing internal political strife. In such times, parties have formed all-party coalitions. If a coalition collapses, a confidence vote is held or a motion of no confidence is taken.

Cabinet (government) Group of high ranking officials, usually representing the executive branch of government

A Cabinet is a body of high-ranking state officials, typically consisting of the top leaders of the executive branch. Members of a cabinet are usually called Cabinet ministers or secretaries. The function of a Cabinet varies: in some countries it is a collegiate decision-making body with collective responsibility, while in others it may function either as a purely advisory body or an assisting institution to a decision making head of state or head of government. Cabinets are typically the body responsible for the day-to-day management of the government and response to sudden events, whereas the legislative and judicial branches work in a measured pace, in sessions according to lengthy procedures.

A minister is a politician who heads a government department, making and implementing decisions on policies in conjunction with the other ministers. In some jurisdictions the head of government is also a minister and is designated the ’prime minister’, ‘premier’, ’chief minister’, ’Chancellor’ or other title.

Confidence

In most parliamentary democracies, members of a parliament can propose a motion of confidence [4] or of no confidence in the government or executive. The results of such motions show how much support the government currently has in parliament. Should a motion of confidence fail, or a motion of no confidence pass, the government will usually either resign and allow other politicians to form a new government, or call an election.

Supply

Most parliamentary democracies require an annual state budget, an appropriation bill, or occasional financial measures to be passed by parliament in order for a government to pay its way and enact its policies. The failure of a supply bill is in effect the same as the failure of a confidence motion. In early modern England, the withholding of funds was one of Parliament's few ways of controlling the monarch.

Parliament of England historic legislature of the Kingdom of England

The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England, existing from the early 13th century until 1707, when it united with the Parliament of Scotland to become the Parliament of Great Britain after the political union of England and Scotland created the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Examples of confidence-and-supply deals

Australia

The Australian Labor Party Gillard Government formed a minority government in the hung parliament elected at the 2010 federal election resulting from a confidence-and-supply agreement with three independent MPs and one Green MP. [5]

Australian Labor Party Political party in Australia

The Australian Labor Party is a major centre-left political party in Australia. The party has been in opposition at the federal level since the 2013 election. The party is a federal party with branches in each state and territory. Labor is in government in the states of Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, and in both the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. The party competes against the Liberal/National Coalition for political office at the federal and state levels. It is the oldest political party in Australia.

Gillard Government

The Gillard Government was the Government of Australia led by the 27th Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, of the Australian Labor Party. The Gillard Government succeeded the First Rudd Government by way of the Labor Party leadership spill, and began on 24 June 2010, with Gillard sworn in as Prime Minister by the Governor-General of Australia, Quentin Bryce. The Gillard Government ended when Kevin Rudd won back the leadership of the Australian Labor Party on 26 June 2013 and commenced the Second Rudd Government.

A hung parliament is a term used in legislatures under the Westminster system to describe a situation in which no particular political party or pre-existing coalition has an absolute majority of legislators in a parliament or other legislature. This situation is also known, albeit less commonly, as a balanced parliament, or as a legislature under no overall control, and can result in a minority government. The term is not relevant in multi-party systems where it is rare for a single party to hold a majority.

Canada

British Columbia

After the 2017 British Columbia provincial election, the Green Party of British Columbia agreed to a confidence-and-supply agreement in support of the British Columbia New Democratic Party. [6] The incumbent British Columbia Liberal Party briefly tried to form a government, but was immediately defeated in a confidence vote by the NDP and Greens. [7]

New Brunswick

On 2 November 2018 (less than two months after the 2018 New Brunswick general election) the legislative assembly voted 25-23 for a motion, introduced by the Progressive Conservatives, to amend the throne speech to declare no confidence in the government. Subsequently, Premier Brian Gallant indicated his intention to resign the premiership and recommend to the lieutenant governor that PC leader Blaine Higgs be given the mandate to form a minority government: "I will go see the lieutenant governor at her earliest convenience to inform her that I will be resigning as premier, and I will humbly suggest to her honour to allow the leader of the Conservative Party to attempt to form a government and attempt to gain the confidence of the house." People's Alliance leader Kris Austin said he would work with the new government "in the areas we agree on," and reiterated his promise to support the Progressive Conservatives on confidence votes for a period of 18 months. Green Party leader David Coon said he would start working with the Tories in an attempt to ensure his party's issues were on the government's agenda. [8]

Ontario

Twenty-two days after the 1985 Ontario provincial election, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario government resigned after a vote of no confidence, and the Ontario Liberal Party formed a government with the support of the Ontario New Democratic Party. [9] The agreement between the two parties was referred to as "The Accord". [10]

India

Third Front national governments were formed in 1989 and 1996 with outside support of one of the two major parties, BJP or Congress.

The CPI-M gave outside support to the Congress Party from 2004–2008, but later withdrew support after the India–United States Civil Nuclear Agreement.

Ireland

After the 2016 general election, a minority government was formed by Fine Gael and some independents, with confidence-and-supply (Irish : muinín agus soláthar [11] ) support from Fianna Fáil in return for a published set of policy commitments from the government. [12] Fianna Fáil abstains on confidence and supply votes, but reserves the right to vote for or against any bill proposed in the Dáil or Seanad. The deal was to last until the end of 2018, with the possibility of renewal before then to extend it to the five-year maximum term of a Dáil. [13]

New Zealand

In New Zealand, confidence and supply arrangements are common due to the MMP system used in the country. The parties providing confidence and supply have a more prominent role than in other countries, with MPs from the support parties often being appointed to ministerial portfolios outside of Cabinet. [14] New Zealand codified the procedures it used to form these Governments in its Cabinet Manual. [15]

John Key's National Party administration formed a minority government in 2008 thanks to a confidence-and-supply agreement with the ACT, United Future and the Māori Party. [16] A similar arrangement in 2005 had led to Helen Clark's Labour Party forming a coalition government with the Progressive Party, with support on confidence and supply from New Zealand First and United Future. After the 2014 election, National re-entered confidence-and-supply agreements with United Future, the ACT Party, and the Māori Party. In 2017, despite National winning more votes than Labour in the election, New Zealand First chose to enter coalition with Labour to help them change the government, with support on confidence and supply from the left-wing Green Party. [15]

United Kingdom

Between 1977 and 1978, Jim Callaghan's Labour Party stayed in power thanks to a confidence-and-supply agreement with the Liberal Party, in a deal which became known as the Lib-Lab Pact. In return, the Labour Party agreed to modest policy concessions for the Liberal Party. [17] [18]

In the aftermath of the 2017 general election which left Theresa May's Conservative Party without a majority, a confidence-and-supply agreement was agreed with the Democratic Unionist Party. [19]

Devolved government

Confidence and supply deals are more frequent in the devolved legislatures of Scotland and Wales due to the use of proportional representation.

Scottish Parliament: The Scottish National Party and Scottish Green Party have a confidence and supply deal. [20]

Welsh Assembly: The Welsh Labour Party and Plaid Cymru had a similar co-operation deal until October 2017. [21]

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References

  1. James Cook, Governments, coalitions and border politics, BBC News , 7 May 2010
  2. Why the PM is safe in No 10 for the moment, The Independent , 8 May 2010
  3. https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/IfG%20Insight%20Confidence%20and%20Supply%20final.pdf
  4. Otherwise, when it is proposed by the Government itself upon a piece of legislation, "the Chambers are enslaved in the exercise of their principal function just because it was thought that their being master of the fiduciary relationship were to be reaffirmed on each bill": Argondizzo, Domenico; Buonomo, Giampiero (April 2014). "Spigolature intorno all'attuale bicameralismo e proposte per quello futuro". Mondoperaio.net.  via  Questia (subscription required)
  5. Rodgers, Emma (7 September 2010). "Labor clings to power". ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  6. Kines, Lindsay (29 June 2017). "Lieutenant-governor invites Horgan to take over, rejects another election". Times Colonist . Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  7. Keller, James; Hunter, Justine; Hager, Mike (29 June 2017). "B.C. NDP to take power following confidence vote, ending 16 years of Liberal rule". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  8. "Brian Gallant's minority New Brunswick government defeated after losing confidence vote | CBC News". CBC.
  9. Stephens, Robert (8 June 1985). "NDP, Liberals move non-confidence". The Globe and Mail. ISSN   0319-0714.
  10. Peterson, David (20 December 1986). "Minority is working". The Toronto Star. ISSN   0319-0781.
  11. "Muinín agus soláthar?". comhar.ie.
  12. "Confidence and Supply Arrangement". Fianna Fáil. 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  13. Gallagher, Páraic (3 May 2016). "Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil parliamentary parties unanimously adopt Government deal". Newstalk . Archived from the original on 25 November 2017. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  14. "What is confidence and supply… and how does it differ from a coalition?". Newshub. 10 April 2017. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  15. 1 2 "CO (17) 10: Labour-New Zealand First Coalition, with Confidence and Supply from the Green Party: Consultation and Operating Arrangements". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  16. Bryant, Nick (7 May 2010). "Lessons from New Zealand in art of coalition building". BBC News .
  17. Weaver, Matthew (16 March 2015). "Politics: what is confidence and supply?". The Guardian . Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  18. "Election 2017: DUP agrees 'confidence' deal with Tories". BBC News.
  19. Peck, Tom (10 June 2017). "Theresa May to enter into 'confidence and supply' arrangement with the Democratic Unionists". The Independent. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  20. "Scots budget vote passed after Green deal". 2 February 2017 via www.bbc.com.
  21. "Plaid to end Labour co-operation deal". 6 October 2017 via www.bbc.com.